Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Quail (really chicken) in Rose Petal Sauce (Hailee and Ross)

photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan
       After watching the movie Like Water for Chocolate, Ross and I got a good grasp on what type of dish we wanted to make. In the movie, Tita’s cooking was made from pure love and whoever ate her creations felt the same emotions as she did. This was something that we wanted to try for ourselves. We wanted this dish to be challenging and creative so we could try new things and learn something new. It did not take us that long to decide that we wanted to prepare a dish called quail in rose petal sauce. This dish was in the movie and in a way set the mood to the main theme of the movie. This dish was the most powerful of all foods in the movie and without it true love would never be the same. There were other scenes in the movie that were extremely romantic, which contributed to what we wanted to create. Sparks of romance filled the air, even though sometimes it was unseen.
Magic realism played a huge role in this movie, especially for Tita and Pedro. The main theme of the movie dealt with two lovers who could not be together. The main woman in the movie, Tita, was the youngest in the family. Tradition in their family was very precise and since Tita was the youngest, she was the one who had to take care of her mother. As Tita began to take care of her mother, she cooked many dishes with each one having their own significance.
            There are many different historical myths about roses but there was one that struck our eyes. In Greek Mythology the goddess of flowers, Chloris, created the roses while Aphrodite gave the rose its unique name. One day while Chloris was cleaning in the forest she found the lifeless body of a beautiful nymph. To right this wrong Chloris enlisted the help of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gave her beauty; then called upon Dionysus, the god of wine, who added nectar to give her a sweet scent. When it was their turn the three Graces gave Chloris charm, brightness and joy. Then Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds so that Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom.
 In a Teutonic myth, fairies and dwarves protected the roses. If someone wanted to pick up roses they would have the ask permission from the fairies and dwarves. Another interesting thing we found is that in the Middle Ages they brewed the roses into a drink. When people took a sip of the drink they had illusions of fairies and believed that they could really see them.
Both these myths relate to the movie in many ways. They both relate to Tita and her mother. Like the Teutonic myth, Tita had to ask permission to do anything she wanted. Also, there is a scene in the movie when Tita sees her dead mother’s spirit, which creates an illusion. In the myth of Greek Mythology Tita used roses and honey (nectar) to create her romantic dish. The dish also showed the true beauty of Tita and how her dishes can tap into people’s emotions.
Roses were the main topic in our research and there were a lot of things that neither of us knew about. There are many types of roses that range in color and each color is symbolic. In some countries roses symbolized the transition of life and death. Many roses were placed on graves for the sake of loved ones and helped them balance the effects of losing a loved one. For our dish we chose red roses, which symbolize respect and love. It poses an image of romance and how the true meaning of the word love still exists in the body and mind.  The rose originated in Persia and was used mainly for medicine and for cooking. In medicine, the rose was used somewhat as a vitamin capturing Vitamin C which had more of an effect than eating an orange. As for food, all the different parts of the rose were used for soups, teas, deserts, etc. There was an interesting folktale we found that said people were placed under magic spells and turned into animals. But once they ate some roses they turned back into their human form. There is a lot of significance about roses and their sense of magical mystery.
We took our ingredients and split them in half so we could each make our own recipe.  For Hailee, she first started to prepare the recipe at her home. She took the rose petals, almonds, and garlic cloves and put them into the blender. At first Hailee and her mom tried to cut the rose petals into small pieces but that did not work. Then they tried putting the rose petals into a cutter and that also did not work. So then Hailee and her mom decided to just throw everything into the blender and hope that it would work. Even putting it in the blender was a struggle. We had to put little amounts of the mixture and let the blender do the work. Once that was done we had to keep on adding the mixture until everything was blended.  It was a long process and the roses were the hardest part of the recipe.  After the roses, garlic, and almonds were mixed and grinded Hailee went to her older sister Ashley’s house to finish the rest of the dish. It was Ashley’s birthday so all of her family went to Ashley’s house.  Hailee decided to make the dish there so everyone could try it and give feedback on it.
            The rest of the process was a breeze. There were some minor adjustments for both our recipes. Instead of using quail like in the movie, we used chicken. Not that many like quail so we decided that mostly everyone likes chicken and that is what we should use. Another ingredient we did not use was the chestnuts. Somehow the ingredient list told us to use them but in the actual directions it never told us to incorporate the chestnuts into the recipe. Other than that we used everything else. No adjustments were made in the directions of the recipe and we followed it step by step. The only complication was that the chicken had to be cooked for an hour and a half instead of what the directions said: twenty minutes. The prep time for this dish was about an hour long while the cooking took an hour and a half.
            As for Ross, Ross’s grandmother did all the cooking. He knows how good of a cook his grandmother was and he didn’t want to mess that up. Ross’s process was very similar to Hailee’s. The only difference was that his grandmother is an experienced cook so she did not have all the trouble of grinding the roses, garlic, and almonds. The process for his grandmother was quick and easy. They both had a fun time making this dish and so did Hailee and her family. This dish brought both the families closer drawing in the love. Personally we think the roses had an impact on the way we cooked and how it brought the families together.
            The actual tasting of the food was our favorite part. Even though Ross and I divided our part of the dish, we both enjoyed the tasting part. At first we were both scared and did not know what to expect. We did not know how roses were going to taste and how roses would actually infuse the chicken with flavor. We expected it to taste bad and crunchy. We never knew that the roses would have such a significant impact on the chicken. At this moment, we were both very anxious to try our new and unique creations.
            As we tasted our creations, our faces were loaded with emotions.Ross thought it was really good and felt a sense of the love his grandmother put into the cooking. As for Hailee this was a new experience because she never really cooked an actual meal before.  Hailee thought the taste was new and exciting with flavor just like Ross did. The only thing different was Hailee thought the sauce on top of the chicken was a little too crunchy partly because the roses never literally infused into the chicken.
Overall, the dish was exquisite and even looked romantic. We both had an amazing experience with this project and we cannot wait until everybody tries our creation. Maybe you will also feel the sense of romance and passion while coming together as a big happy family.

Works Cited

Andrews, Tamra. Nectar & Ambrosia: an Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology.

      Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2000. Print.

"Flowers, edible." The New Food Lover's Companion, Barron's. Hauppauge: Barron's

        Educational Series, 2007. Credo Reference. Web. 08 November 2011.

Like Water for Chocolate Como Agua Para Chocolate. Dir. Alfonso Arau. Perf. Marco

        Leonardi, Lumi Cavazos and Regina Torné. Miramax, 1992. Videocassette.

"Like Water for Chocolate Rose Quail Recipe." TheRomantic.com: 1000s of Creative

        Romantic Ideas and Free Expert Advice on Love, Relationships, Sex, Kissing,

         Dating and Romance. Web. 17 Nov. 2011.

"The Cultural Meanings of Different Rose Colors." Home & Garden Ideas. Web. 08 Nov.



Monday, December 5, 2011

Torrijas (Rob and Josh)

photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan

 Torrejas are a traditional Spanish dessert that is usually eaten during the Easter season. It is prepared all during the lent season leading up to Easter. The American version of this desert would be French bread. "The story behind Torrejas is a true Easter tale. Since Christian customs restrict eating meat during Lent, bread, always plentiful, often became the meal itself. Original Torrejas were soaked in milk or wine (perhaps as a parallel to the Eucharist.) The very sweet version with milk is most commonly prepared" (www.mylatinovoice.com). Guatemalans eat this pastry during Holy Week, also known as Semana Santa, the week before Easter.

The recipe is in the film "Like Water for Chocolate" when Tita and Gertudis are preparing Torrejas for the holiday season. Meanwhile, Pedro is on his way into the house and Gertudis wants to break the news to him that Tita is pregnant with his child. Just as he is stepping over the threshold Gertudis says "I think you should tell Pedro you’re expecting his child". A direct hit Pedro drops the sack of beans he is carrying. Then Gertudis says "I think Tita has something to tell you. Why don’t you go outside and talk". Tita didn’t know if she should thank Gertudis or scold her. Gertudis continues on making torrejas, she has no idea how to make them without the recipe. She doesn’t even know what a pint is. She has to ask her sergeant, Chencha, what a pint was.

Recipe Torrejas (Fritters)
El ingredient: ½ un pieza pan duro, 1 pinta de leche entera, 1 cucharada vainilla Mexicana, 3 huevos, ½ taza de azúcar, 2 cucharada canela picada, 1 cucharada picada clavos, ¼ palo de mantequilla, 3 tazas de agua, 1/3 taza de pasas, 1/3 taza plata almond.
½ a loaf of bread ( leave out crusty French or Spanish bread for a day), 1 pint of whole milk, 1 tablespoon of Mexican vanilla, 3 eggs, ½ cup of sugar, 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon, 1 tablespoon of ground cloves, ¼ stick of salted butter, 3 cups of water, 1/3 cup of raisins, and 1/3 cup of slivered almonds.

Preparation Slice day-old bread into inch or inch and a half slices Add vanilla to milk Add 1 Tablespoon of sugar to eggs and then beat Place bread in milk and vanilla mixture and then in egg and sugar Melt butter at medium temperature Fry pieces of bread dipped in egg and milk in butter, over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side Place paper towel on plate and and place pieces of bread here to drain While bread is draining....... In a heavy saucepan or skillet (non stick) melt the sugar over medium heat until uniformly golden brown and smooth Move the sugar around the pan by tilting it rather than using a spoon to stir Carefully add the water, cinnamon (canola) and cloves, bring to a full boil

Reduce the heat to a slow boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has thickened to a syrup consistency Remove from heat, add raisins and almonds Dip each slice of bread in the syrup and place on the serving platter. Pour the remaining syrup, raisins and almonds over the bread slices. Cover and leave overnight Serve with whipped cream strawberries or Kahlúa.

Josh's Experience
The Torrejas were fun to make; the smell of them filled the kitchen with the aroma of fried butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. I tasted one of the Torrejas when I finished cooking them, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It tasted similar to French Toast but with a hint of vanilla. The only thing that I deviated from on the recipe was instead of using Mexican vanilla I used regular vanilla extract and I didn’t use almonds because of fear of nut allergies. The Torrejas came out very well, they smell and taste terrific.

Rob's Experience
I followed the recipe to the letter. It took approximately an hour and a half to prepare. Everything worked out well except making the syrup, I think I burnt the sugar when I tried to caramelize it. The sugar burnt the pan. I should have just used the maple syrup it would have been a lot easier and saved around forty-five minutes cooking time. Other than that I had no problems making the torrejas. When starting the bread seemed hard as a rock but, when I soaked it in the eggs, milk, and vanilla it soften up immediately. I didn’t leave the bread out overnight because I thought they meant leave out a fresh out of the oven bread overnight.

Works Cited

Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. New York: Random House, 1992. 187-203. Print.

"Food in Guatemala - Guatemalan Food, Guatemalan Cuisine - Traditional, Popular, Dishes,

       Diet, History, Common, Meals, Staple, Rice, Main, People, Types, Customs, Fruits,
       Country,Bread,Vegetables,Bread,Drink." Food in Every Country. Web. 07 Nov. 2011.

Like Water for Chocolate. Prod. Alfonso Arau. Dir. Alfonso Arau. 1992.

"Torrejas: Latino Easter Dessert." My Latino Voice Home. Web. 07 Nov. 2011.

Salsa (Shawna and Matt)

photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan

       Onions, peppers, cilantro, tomatos, lime all sound like a yummy combination. Well it is called salsa. It is a very well known Mexican appetizer that is served with many different dishes. From all of the Mexican recipes that are out there we decided to go basic and we chose to make salsa. Many of the main Mexican dishes are made of corn or have a corn base in it. When ever you go to a Mexican restaurant the first dish that is served to you is a dish of chips and a bowl of Salsa. Every person or restaurant makes salsa in different ways. It comes in many different spices. Some are very hot and some are very soothing. In Like Water For Chocolate they include many of these ingredient in a lot of their food. For example in the beginning she is chopping up onions before she goes into labor. The taste all depends upon how the person likes it.  Salsa is one of the easier recipes to make out of all of the Mexican dishes that are out there. It contains a lot of basic ingredients such as your hots and spices.
            Making the Salsa was the easiest part. The salsa consists of onions, peppers, tomato, cilantro, beans and jalapeños. When making the salsa it consisted of measuring out all of the ingredients and stirring them together. But, when you are making the salsa you are in control of how hot you want to make it. If you want it hotter you can just add some more of the hot peppers. Another thing that the cook can control is how chunky or how watery they want the salsa to be. If the audience or the people who are eating the food want it to be more watery all the cook has to do is just let the peppers and tomatos juice sit in the salsa instead of draining it out. After stirring everything together then you can add the salt and pepper. Once we added the salt and pepper we added the cilantro into it to determine how strong of a scent we want in the salsa.
2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed, finely diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 jalapeño chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
1 serano chili pepper (stems, ribs, seeds removed), finely diced
Juice of one lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 medianas tomates frescos de tamaño (de 1 libra a 1 1 / 2 lb), los tallos y finamente picado
1 / 2 cebolla roja, finamente picada
1 chile jalapeño pimienta (tallos, las costillas, sin semillas), finamente picada
1 chile serrano (tallos, las costillas, sin semillas), finamente picada
Jugo de un limón
1 / 2 taza de cilantro picado
Sal y pimienta al gusto
            After trying the salsa we realized that we had to make a few minor adjustments with the spices because we would have a little too much of one thing in there versus the rest. We wanted everything to be proportional to each other so not one ingredient was too strong. When it came to adding the salt and pepper we had to be careful because too much salt or pepper was going to throw it off. We would put a little in and then we would taste it until we realized that it was perfect that it didn’t make it too strong. Before we added the cilantro to it, it had a very strong smell of onion. That was all you could really smell before we added the cilantro. Once the final product came out it tasted very good. It had just enough spice to it the make it noticeable.
            Salsa was recorded back into the early 1500’s. The Spaniard’s had gotten a hold of the recipe after the war with Mexico. The condiments were mostly served over meat such as lobster or turkey and served at dinner. The recipe had originated with the Aztecs. The word salsa in Spanish is directly connected to the word sauce in English. In America the word salsa was recorded in books in 1962. It was always around but never in writing. Everyone made it his or her own way and different forms that it was never trademarked. (History of Salsa) salsa is a condiment that is served at every meal either before or during the meal. It is used as dipping sauce or it is used to cook with. Salsa is one of the many added spices to Mexican dishes(Parker).
            Not only do they use peppers in Salsa but also Mexican cuisine involves many kinds of peppers. Peppers date back to 1493 in Peru. Once they were found they were cultivated into the millions. The pepper that was used in the recipe was the jalapeño pepper. This pepper is very highly cultivated in Mexico. Not only is it big in Mexico but has recently became a big pepper in America. The jalapeno pepper is used in many other types of cooking for a hot kick to the meal. (Food Gardening Guide)
            Through all of the research that we have done it shows that food is very scared to the Mexican Culture. Not only does the Mexican culture love to eat the food, they cherish the food that they eat every day. After making the salsa you don’t realize how many different ways you can make one type of food. The cook can choose how chunky or how watery they want to make something or how spicy or sweet they want to make a dip. Also that Salsa is used as a tradition before meals. It’s interesting that it all started out but someone making a creation of things thrown together that it would make a huge production line. From the experience of us cooking the salsa it made us realize that food is way more than just something you put in your mouth, that it is also something that is a culture in its own and that people in Mexico dedicate hours and hours of their day spent around food.
Works Cited
Elise. "Fresh Tomato Salsa Recipe | Simply Recipes." Simply Recipes Food and Cooking
      Blog. 25 Aug. 2005. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
"Food Gardening Guide :National Gardening Association." Gardening Resources :
      National Gardening Association. National Gardening Association Editors.
      Web. 08 Nov. 2011.
"History Of Salsa." GourmetSleuth.com The Gourmet Food and Cooking Resource.
       Web. 08 Nov. 2011.
Parker, Margaret. "History of Mexican Cuisine." Inner City Conservative Journal.
       Web. 08 Nov.2011.

Chabela Wedding Cake (Hannah and Kate)

photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan

In the movie Like Water for Chocolate, Tita and Nancha make a traditional wedding cake for Pedro and Rosaura’s wedding. People still use this recipe today to make the traditional Chabela Wedding Cake for the extravagant traditional Mexican wedding. Although 40% of Mexicans are catholic (Pearce), Mexican’s still have their own specific traditions for and during the wedding. Mexican weddings traditions are still encouraged for Mexicans. Kate and used the following ingredients to bake our Chabela Wedding Cake:

English- Ingredients
Español - ingrediente
1. Flour (3 Cups)
1. Harina
2. Baking Powder (1 Tablespoon)
2. Polvo de hornear
3.Baking Soda (1/2 Teaspoon)
3. Bicarbonato de sosa o de soda
4.Salt (1/2 Teaspoon)
4. La Sal
5. Unsalted Butter, softened (2.5 Cups)
5. La Mantequilla
6. Milk (1 Cup)
6. La Leche
7. Vinegar (add to milk as needed)
7. Vinagre
8. Eggs (11)
8. El Huevo
9. White Sugar (2 cups)
9. el azúcar
10.Vanilla extract  (1 Tablespoon)
10. El extracto be Vainilla
11. Lime Juice (zest 6 limes)
11. El jugo de lima

            When we got the recipe we did substitute one thing. Instead of using the original buttermilk, we mixed milk and vinegar together, and let it sit for 5 minutes, but other than that, we followed the instructions to prepare our cake.
            After we preheated oven to 350°, we lined the bottom on the round pan with parchment paper, and greased the bottom and the sides. Next, we mixed the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. In another bowl, we mixed the sugar and the butter together until it looked fluffy. After mixing for a while, we added in the eggs and the vanilla extract. After that, we slowly added in the other bowl with the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the bowl with the butter and sugar. Lastly, we separated the batter in three separate pans. Onc the batter was distributed, we baked them for 25 minutes. Once the cakes were in the oven, we made the curd (which didn’t come out right) by following these instructions:

            To prepare the glaze, we whisked 8 eggs together in a heatproof bowl and then added the sugar and the lime juice. The only problem was that the kitchen we were using did not have a double boiler. We tried to create a double boiler with two different sized saucepans but our little invention failed and the glaze ended up all over the counters in the kitchen. After that incident, we gave up on the icing all together because we had run out of ingredients. We went to Roche Bros. and picked up a bottle of microwaveable glaze and put that on the cake instead. We layered the cakes and put glaze in between each one and lime zest. We added the glaze to the top of the cake as well and then topped it off with the zest from 3 limes. We tried as best we could to poke holes into the cake to let the glaze drip down into the middle, but we did not have a dowel and the glaze was not hot enough to make its way down the smaller holes we created with the end of a spoon. Since we were not able to use the dowel method we did not have to let our cake soak for 10-15 minutes like it said to in the directions. Making this cake was overall an interesting experience for the both of us. It was hard not being in a familiar kitchen and that was definitely a major setback. But we persevered and were able to make a cake that was presentable and edible.
            There are many different traditions that go hand in hand with Mexican weddings. One tradition is giving the woman you want to marry a ring of promise. It can be given to the bride a year before the actual engagement ring is given and shows a sense of long term commitment to one another. If a woman accepts the promise ring, they are accepting the idea of becoming engaged to whoever gave it to them (Pearce). While researching the tradition of the Mexican Wedding Cake, we found that it is actually a very old tradition and this “cake” is actually baked in the form of a cookie. These cakes that are actually cookies became popular in 1950’s and 1960’s in Mexico. They were not only made for weddings but for other special holidays like Christmas. These cakes come in many different varieties, depending on where it is made. It first started out as an Arab tradition and then spread throughout Europe. These cookies are usually round or oval in shape and take very simple ingredients to make. Sometimes fruit or chocolate is added to the cookies to make them more flavorful and less plain looking (Williams). We did not find any information regarding the cake that was made in the movie, but we are sure that it is or was a tradition in Mexico at some point. As time goes on new traditions are developed and that is where the Wedding Cookies came into play.
            This recipe relates to the movie because it is the first recipe made in Like Water for chocolate. It is the first recipe Tita makes that shows her true emotions and how she really feels about her sister marrying the man she loves. When they make the cake for Rosaura’s wedding, Tita cannot help but cry because she is so heartbroken about the whole event, and she longed for the love of her life. Tita’s crying causes tears to fall into the batter of the cake and then causes something almost unrealistic to happen. When the ceremony was over, the guests proceeded to the area where the dinner and the cake that Tita made, were being served. Since Tita had cried into the cake batter, everyone who ate it felt heartbroken as well and they all longed for the loved ones they had lost. This was one example of magic realism in the movie. Tita’s mother of course thinks that Tita has purposely poisoned the cake so that everyone would be sick. Little did her mother know it was pure magic from her daughter, Tita’s tears.
            This movie was a love story that showed how much it takes to win back a loved one that you have temporarily lost. It also shows how traditional Mexican families were back in the day because Tita was not allowed to be married, all because she was the youngest in her family. We are sure that some families probably still pass down similar traditions but things are a lot more modern these days, and not many people would do what Pedro did to Tita anymore. It just goes to show how close a family can be and how willing some families are to hurt ones they love, all because they want someone to take care of them when they are dying.

Works Cited
Carrasco, David. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures the Civilizations of Mexico
       and Central America. Oxford: Oxford University, 2000. Print.
Like Water for Chocolate [Como agua para chocolate]. Screenplay by Laura Esquivel.
       Dir. Alfonso Arau. Perf. Lumi Cavazos, Marco Leonardi, Regina Torne.1992.
       Burbank, Calif.: Miramax Home Entertainment, 2000. DVD.
Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate: a Novel in Monthly Installments, with 
      Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies. New York: Doubleday, 1992. Print.
N.LN, Meagan. "Chabela Wedding Cake: Baking Like Water For Chocolate." Scarletta 
       Bakes | Bake. Laugh. Eat. Repeat. Web. 16 Nov. 2011. <http://scarlettabakes.com/>.
Pearce, Lois. "Mexican Wedding Traditions." Wedding Planning and Free Wedding Checklists,
       Bridal Information, WeddingDetails.com - Plan Your Wedding Ceremony and Reception
       with Checklists and Planning Guides. 2010. Web. 08 Nov. 2011. <http://www.wedding
Williams, Martha. "History of Mexican Wedding Cakes and Ideas." Free Articles Inc.      
        Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.freearticlesinc.com>.details.com>.

Mexican Hot Chocolate (Adam and Shawn)

            Chocolate is always a delicious dessert that always seems to please the person eating it. You can go into any supermarket or convenience store and purchase chocolate. Chocolate has become very abundant in the United States and people seem to take chocolate for granted. Many years ago, chocolate was enjoyed only by the upper-class and was viewed as a royal dessert. Now people can eat chocolate whenever they want. 
Adam and I decided to meet up on Sunday afternoon to try and make our Mexican hot chocolate drink. Going into this recipe we knew nothing about the essential aspect of the chocolate in Mexican culture. As we will explain later, chocolate was very important to Mexican culture. Adam and I looked at the recipe for the hot chocolate and concluded that since we both have zero cooking knowledge or skill that we would try to accomplish this drink. The recipe seemed very self explanatory and easy to comprehend. The recipe called for very little ingredients and little preparation and cooking time. The ingredients for the hot chocolate were vanilla/ la vainilla, eggs/ huevos, salt/ la sal, cinnamon/ canela, sugar/ el azúcar, milk/ la leche, and chocolate/ el chocolate (preferably Mexican chocolate).
photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan
            The recipe started by saying to get all of these ingredients ready for cooking. It then instructed us to combine the salt, cinnamon, chocolate, milk, and sugar into a big pan. Adam and I completed these steps without any problems or issues. The next step was to place the pan with all these ingredients onto the stove and begin to heat. I was planning on bringing the milk to a boil but Adam promptly pointed out in the recipe that it says not to bring the milk to a boil. If Adam didn’t point that step out to me then the recipe would have been ruined. So I let the milk heat up and come to a nice steady heat. The recipe said to let the milk heat up until all of the chocolate was melted in the pan. The chocolate came in 3 ounce circular pieces. They needed to be broken up into smaller chunks. It wasn’t like the chocolate packets that come in the stores. It took only a couple minutes for all of the chocolate to melt in the pan. I had to continue stirring all of the ingredients in the pot while the milk was heating up. While the milk was getting warm, Adam took the two eggs and cracked them into a separate bowl and was beginning to whisk them separately. While he was mixing the eggs I poured a cup of the warm milk into his bowl so the eggs and milk could combine. Once the eggs were completely mixed with the warm milk we poured the bowl back into the pan of hot milk. We had to do this step so that the eggs would not scramble in the milk. If this had happened then the recipe would be ruined and we would need to have started all over again. Up to this point Adam and I had no issues and were very impressed with our performance as chefs. Once the eggs were back in the pan, we read that we needed to let the milk heat up even more but not to let it come to a boil again. We needed to let the milk warm up for 3-4 minutes. Once the four minutes were up Adam poured in two teaspoons of the vanilla extract to the milk and I stirred the hot milk for one minute extra. After all of these steps were completed we each garnished our mugs with a cinnamon stick, and poured a cup of Mexican hot chocolate into it. We both tried the hot chocolate at the same time and to our amazement it actually tasted better than we thought it was going too. I could really taste the flavor of the cinnamon and the chocolate.

Adam and I didn’t really deviate from the instructions. We were able to follow the recipe and didn’t honestly come to any problems or issues with the steps. Adam and I would definitely make this drink again and look forward to presenting our research at the Mid-Year Symposium.
            Chocolate has a very deep background in Mexico. Chocolate is “the name applied to the variety of products manufactured from the seeds of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao L.” A man named Carl Von Linne, known as Linnaeus, called the tree “food of the gods” (Ziegler, 400). No one is exactly sure of where the cacao originated but it is assumed to be from somewhere in the Amazon or Mesoamerica. According to the Cambridge World History of Food, it seems that the cacao has been scattered all over the earth and even scientifically modified to produce different varieties. “Experts tend to identify cacaos and their various differences and desired qualities by regions, soils, and kinds of processing, so that Guayaquil cacaos, Brazilian cacaos, and varieties from the Ivory Coast or Malaysia, for example, are all characterized according to aroma, sweetness, the shape and size of the bean, oil or “butter” content, and other attributes” (Origins, Varieties, and Cultivation).
            For a long time, chocolate was considered to be a drink for the elite, and a symbol of status in the Maya and Aztec cultures. Chocolate was the drink of choice for warriors and nobles and it was key in rituals, where it symbolized human blood. Another reason why chocolate was so exotic was because it could not grow in the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, so it had to be imported from conquered lands, or traded for from the Maya. All the elite people drank chocolate, even Montezuma, who drank up to 50 flagons per day. (A flagon was just another name for a glass.) (Ziegler, 400)
            “The composition of the edible cotyledon or ‘nib’ is by weight approximately 55 percent fat; 30 percent carbohydrates, half of which is dietary fiber; 10 percent protein; and a host of minor nutrients. This breakdown provides a key to the basis for chocolate’s status as a luxury food.” (Ziegler, 400).
            There were various ways that people would drink their chocolate, the most basic being a mixture of ground cacao and other flavorings added to water, but the one thing everyone agreed was the most important was the foam. They would transfer the liquid from one container to another to produce the foam. It was considered to be a sign of quality (Ziegler, 402).
            Over time, chocolate became more and more common, and was no longer a status symbol. “Cocoa became a breakfast drink for women and children; what formerly symbolized power was now in the hands of the disenfranchised in middle-class society” (Ziegler, 402). Another huge movement for chocolate was in the 1820’s when chocolate started to be produced not only for drinking, but for eating. “The development of solid eating chocolate was evolutionary” (Ziegler, 402). For class we watched a movie called Like Water for Chocolate which followed a girl by the name of Tita through her life as a young adult. The movie showed how many Mexican dishes were made and how a little bit of magic could completely change the whole meal. The secret ingredients put into each meal could totally change how a person acted or felt. It was a very interesting movie and really opened up our eyes to a whole new world of culture food and drink.  
            There is something about chocolate that is magical, as shown by its history in the Maya and Aztec cultures, and even still today. It is used in the fanciest desserts, people give it to each other to show their love, kids go crazy about it on Halloween, and it is just enjoyable to eat or drink whenever you feel like it.
photograh by James Hayes-Bohanan

Rob and Josh enjoy the chocolate.

Works Cited

Katz, Solomon H., and William Woys Weaver. "Chocolate." Encyclopedia of Food and

        Culture. Vol. 1.  New York: Scribner, 2003. 400-03. Print.

Like Water for Chocolate, Miramax, 1992, Film/Movie

"Origins, Varieties, and Cultivation." Cambridge World History of Food. Cambridge:

        Cambridge University Press, 2000. Credo Reference. Web. 08 November 2011.

Stradley, Linda. "Hot Chocolate, Hot Chocolate Recipes, Rediscover True Hot Chocolate,

          Mayan Hot Chocolate, History of Hot Chocolate." What's Cooking America.

          Web. 08 Nov. 2011. <http://whatscookingamerica.net/Beverage/HotChocolate.htm>.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mole and Chompadongo (Sullivan and Lauren)

photograph by James Hayes-Bohanan

       Champandongo may have a silly-sounding name, but it contains some serious and culturally significant ingredients.  A recipe introduced to us by the book and film Like Water for Chocolate, champandongo is a hearty meat dish, layered with tortillas (similar to the structure of lasagna), and brought together with a rich molé poblano sauce.  Although not given any attention in the movie, the champandongo, and the molé in particular, make a small appearance in the book.  Tita had the responsibility of preparing a dinner worthy of a special occasion—another character, John, had plans to propose to her.  Knowing well the importance of this dish, Tita wanted to begin preparations early on, but anxiety kicked in and frustrations ensued.  The initial cause for frustration was her niece, to whom Tita become sort of a mother.  With time spent attending to her niece, Tita could not focus properly on cooking.  This lead to shaky and jerky movements, initially resulting in an easy-to-remedy cut, but then attributed to the spillage of the entirety of the molé—molé that had taken four hours to prepare.  Finally, she had to accept aid from another character, who helped Tita put together a passable entrée (Esquivel).

       Having now experienced what making champandongo from scratch entails, it is easy to see how life’s frustrations could further complicate and already intricate dish.  Fortunately, though, we did not encounter any frustrations and successfully completed the dish.  Below is the recipe we used, followed by a few notes about the slight deviations we made from the recipe.

Mole is made with:
2 teaspoons vegetable oil                                    2 cucharaditas de aceite vegetal
1/4 cup finely chopped onion                             1 / 4 taza de cebolla picada finamente
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder           1 cucharada de cacao en polvo sin azúcar
1 teaspoon ground cumin                                    1 cucharadita de comino molido
1 teaspoon dried cilantro                                    1 cucharadita de cilantro
1/8 tablespoon dried minced garlic                     1 / 8 cucharada de ajo picado seco
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed tomato soup      1 (10.75 onzas) de sopa de tomate condensada
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chili peppers          1 lata de chiles verdes en cubitos
To prepare Mole:
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until tender. Mix in cocoa powder, cumin, cilantro, and garlic. Stir in the tomato soup and green chili peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. Transfer to a gravy boat or pour directly over food to serve (“Mexican Mole Sauce Recipe”).

Champandongo is made with:1 lb. ground beef                                          1 libra carne molida de res
1 lb. ground pork                                         1 libra carne molida de cerdo
7 oz. walnuts, chopped in small pieces          7 oz nueces picadas en trozos pequeños
7 oz. almonds, chopped in small pieces         7 oz almendras, picadas en trozos pequeños
1 yellow onion, chopped                               1 cebolla amarilla, picada
1 orange                                                       1 naranja
2 tomatoes, chopped                                   2 tomates picados
1 cup chicken broth                                      1 taza de caldo de pollo  
¼ cup molé                                                   ¼ de taza de mole
 1-2 tablespoons cumin                                  1-2 cucharadas de comino 
1 tablespoon sugar                                         1 cucharada de azucar
1 lb. tortillas                                                   1 libra de tortillas
¼ cup cream                                                  ¼ taza de crema
8 oz. Manchengo cheese                                 8 oz queso Manchengo

Oil                                                                  aceite     

To Prepare Champandongo:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté onion in several tablespoons of oil. Once onion is translucent, add beef and pork. Sprinkle meat and onion mixture with cumin and sugar. Once beef and pork are golden brown, add tomatoes and nuts and squeeze the juice of the orange on top.  While the meat is browning, add molé to chicken stock and stir constantly until molé has a thick, soupy consistency. Heat tortillas in 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan. Spread a thin layer of the cream on the bottom of a large, glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of tortillas, then a layer of the meat mixture, then a coating of molé, and finally the manchengo cheese. Repeat. Place the dish in the oven and bake for no more than 15 minutes. Slice into pieces and serve immediately (Menkedick).

      The above recipe is fairly straightforward and easy to follow, however, we did deviate from it slightly; we used fresh cilantro (rather than dried) in hopes that the juices from the freshly-minced leaves would help bring out the cilantro flavor in a dish with so many other powerful ingredients.  We also replaced the canned chili peppers with fresh poblano peppers, in order to create a more authentic molé poblano.
 The final product of both chompodongo and molé came out very different than we expected. First, we tried the molé, which was a deep red color and very thick, much like a thinner version of pasta sauce. We had originally expected the chocolate and the poblano to be the key flavors of the molé, however, the first flavor to reach our taste buds reminded us of peanuts. As for the champandongo, we did not at all get the flavors we expected.  But, then again, we did not fully know what to expect, as we had a veritable smorgasbord of ingredients. Not to mention, the dish is not pretty; from certain angles, it can be downright unappealing.  For a hearty meat-eater, who does not care about the asthestics of a dish, this meal is a definite must to try.  It is protein-rich and filling!

History of Ingredients:
      Being a traditional Latin American dish, champandongo has a rich cultural history, particularly with regard to the molé and the ingredients present in it.  Among the ingredients are two staples of Latin American cooking: the poblano and cocoa.
Cocoa has a subtle performance in this dish, but has a very strong presence in the history of Latin America.  Because of this, as well as the disputed origin of the cacao plant (Kiples), it would be impossible to give a full overview of the history of cocoa in Latin American cooking.  Instead, cocoa as it pertains to molé will be briefly examined.
      Early Mesoamerica peoples had numerous concoctions that involved cocoa beans.  Often times, the beans were ground up, and mixed with maize and hot or cold water.  This acted as a soup-like food to which many other ingredients could be added, such as ground chilies, vanilla, annatto, and even seeds, flowers and roots.  Often added to this soup-like product was liquid chocolate, which can be considered an early, more basic ancestor of modern molé sauces.  This early form of molé was usually consumed by only the upper classes and pochteca (an official merchant class), and was most often served at public banquets and festivals (Kiple). Now, it is a dish common to less affluent families, as demonstrated in Like Water for Chocolate. 
      The other staple, the poblano pepper, is a member of the genus Capsicum, a large family of peppers that includes everything from mild bell peppers, to some of the hottest peppers in the world, such as habaneros and jolokias.  The poblano, in particular, is a relatively mild (slightly spicier than a bell pepper) capsicum, said to be one of the most popular used in Mexican cooking due to its versatility.  Again, as with cocoa, the poblano has a rich history rooted in the traditions of Latin American cooking, so more of a focus will be put on how it pertains to molé (Kiple).
       Mole Poblano was created by Sister Andrea de la Asuncion.  Betsy Reynolds Bateson in her article “Mexico's Regal Sauce” states: “The word mole actually has broader meaning. It comes from mulli in the language of the pre-Colombian Nahuatl Indians in Mexico, and loosely translates as sauce.  The Pueblans named their mole for themselves; poblano means the people of Puebla. In addition to mole poblano, the area is known for several other moles with chocolate, all characteristically thick and complex” (Bateson). Sister Andrea de la Asuncion was chosen to create a special dish for the visiting dignitaries who were expected to arrive on a Sunday between 1657 and 1688. Legend says that she was chosen last minute and had to scramble to come up with something special and new. From the supplies that she had in her kitchen, chili paste, herbs, seeds and vegetables, she then added chocolate which became a mixture uniquely called Mole. Later Sister Andrea found that in Aztec culture chocolate was reserved for regal gentlemen, which made it a perfect dish for the dignitaries (Bateson).

Works Cited
Bateson, Betsy Reynolds. "Mexico's Regal Sauce." Sunset Mar. 1992: 100+. Culinary Arts Collection. Web. 1 Nov. 2011.
Esquivel, Laura. Like Water for Chocolate. London: Black Swan, 1993. Print.
Kiple, Kenneth F., and Kriemhild Coneè. Ornelas. The Cambridge World History of Food. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2000. Print.
Like Water for Chocolate (Como Agua Para Chocolate). Dir. Alfonso Arau. Perf. Marco Leonardi and Lumi Cavazos. Miramax, 1992. DVD.
"Mexican Mole Sauce Recipe - Allrecipes.com." Allrecipes.com - Recipes, Menus, Meal Ideas, Food, and Cooking Tips. All Recipes. Web. 18 Nov. 2011. <http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/mexican-mole-sauce/detail.aspx>.
Menkedick, Sarah. "Champandongo: The Little-Known Wonder from "Like Water for Chocolate" - Hispanic Kitchen." Welcome - Hispanic Kitchen. Hispanic Kitchen, 20 Nov. 2009. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://www.hispanickitchen.com/profiles/blogs/champandongo-the-littleknown>.