Monday, June 13, 2011

Mexican Food in Europe

We had more friends from France stop by Amsterdam to visit us. That is one of the things I love about Europe. Want to visit a different country/culture? Just hop in your car. Frankly, it still amazes me that people wouldn't jump at an opportunity to live here. Not only is the lifestyle more focused on living than working (hello, five weeks vacation!), but the history and breadth of experience here is breathtaking. In fact, one of the few things missing here is Tex-Mex cooking.

Friends from France
More friends from France visiting us

We had a BBQ to welcome them and I decided to give them a taste of what it would have been like in Texas. I made a potato salad with bacon (something I'm not used to seeing outside of the southern US, though that could be coincidence), but I really went all out in making fajitas. They take a bit of work to make properly, so I marinated some meat overnight in lime juice, tequila, cumin, cilantro and a few other things. It came out fairly well (my wife says they were better than any she's made), but I already have ideas on how to improve them more. Still, serving the fajitas on tortillas with pico de gallo, grilled onions and sour cream was a pleasant treat.

Perhaps it should be my mission to convince Europeans that Mexican/Tex-Mex food isn't the awful crap that you get in restaurants over here. I've had "salsa" which tastes like peppered ketchup and I've had waitresses in "Mexican" restaurants tell me they didn't know what tacos were. And that time I had enchiladas wrapped in cold, unsteamed corn tortillas. Yuck!

No wonder Mexican food isn't popular over here. And you can't imagine what a pain the rear it is finding ingredients. You have to know that "cilantro" is "koriander" and even if the butcher understands English, there's a good chance he/she won't understand the names for cuts of meat. Skirt steak? What's that? You can also make fajitas with flank steak and apparently the term is flankensteak, but I didn't know that. Sigh. And where can I find the delicious green chiles which are ubiquitous in the US? There are American stores here, so I'm going to have to go hunting, but I don't hold out much hope.

And let's not talk about how I walked into a halal butcher looking for bacon.