Fine, fresh Mexican food and a peasant dish with no name

Nelson shares his most favoured recipes along with favourite life experiences.

I got the urge for refried beans this morning and that brought back some memories of Southern Mexico.

On my first trip to Mexico, I tried to do all the touristy things most visitors do, and I also tried to sample all the authentic foods I could find. As I got further south I found the Native Indian influence more prevalent and the food better and better. For example, good refried beans were simply not possible to find in the first two weeks of my trip. But in the South, the Indians did them very well indeed.

At the end of the third week I was lucky enough to join up with a small band of Americans and Native Indians headed south to Belize. That is where I got some good food, both Mexican and American.

One morning as I got ready for the trail (we were traveling in a small caravan of Indians and whites on horseback) the cook got breakfast ready. I could see she knew what she was doing so I observed from a distance.

When she realized I was interested she was happy to let me watch and ask questions, I’ll pass on her recipes, but first let me tell you about my rather ungrateful entry into Belize.

As we crossed the border—a wide spot in the trail and a machete mark on a palm tree—the cook, who had become my friend by now, gave my horse a whack on the rump and let out a whoop. It was meant as a friendly salutation as we crossed the border. But my horse had other ideas.

He plunged into the jungle and I got a vine across my throat that peeled me off my stupid horse and dropped me in a heap on the ground. It took some doing to play cool after that dump.

But it was worth it. I got some great recipes from that lady cook. The one I’ll share with you today is for a peasant dish that has no name. But its good.

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked red beans with juice

1 cup cooked black beans with juice

1/2 onion, sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

2 fresh tomatoes, chopped

1 cup fibre root, cooked (substitute cooked potatoes)

2-3 pinches cayenne pepper

1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced

Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste

Method:

Sauté the onions, garlic cloves, red pepper and mushrooms in a bit of hot oil and turn into saucepan. Add the tomatoes and the cooked potatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans. (I use the pop top black beans which are available locally and canned red beans.) Any of the commercial tortillas are great on the side with this dish.

Want an easy-to-make dessert?

Cut one or two grapefruits in half, sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Add a dollop of butter and place under the broiler until the butter is melted and the top is well-browned. Easy, fast and tasty.

See Ya Next Week!