Mexicans love to party. We joke about turning any event, good or bad, into a celebration, even death. Mexican celebrations are not complete without food, but not just any kind of food. There must be a rule somewhere that stipulates that if the food doesn’t take at least three days to prepare then it isn’t worth for important celebrations.
That’s why when Foodbuzz decided to celebrate the launch of its new Featured Publisher Community with the 24, 24, 24 event I knew I wanted to be part of it. My proposal for this amazing celebration was the traditional Mexican dish Chiles en Nogada, which are stuffed poblano peppers in walnut sauce. The presentation, the richness of the sauce and the combination of sweet, savory and spicy flavors are a celebration by itself. No wonder this is the preferred dish for our most important celebration, Independence Day.
Every September 15th and 16th Mexicans gather together to celebrate the Independence from the Spanish Crown. This movement started in the city of Dolores, in the state now known as Hidalgo, the night of September 15th, 1810 when Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla gave the Cry of Dolores that ignited the war of Independence. This war lasted until 1821 when Agustin de Iturbide, who later became the first Mexican Emperor, signed the treaty of Cordoba that granted Mexico its Independence.
On his way to Mexico City, Agustin de Iturbide stopped in the city of Puebla where the townspeople decided to hold a feast to celebrate the Independence from Spain and Iturbide’s saint’s day, August 28th. The Augustinian nuns of Santa Monica convent were in charge of creating a special dish for the occasion. Using local ingredients that were in season they came up with a dish that proudly bore the colors of the triumphant army, green, white and red. That’s how chiles en nogada were born 187 years ago.
Chiles en nogada is my parents’ favorite dish. My mom tells us that her mom used to make at least one hundred of them every year for my grandfather’s saint’s day. Coincidentally, his name was also Agustin so they celebrated the same day than Agustin de Iturbide. When they acquired the restaurant they included them in the menu every Friday from July to October. When my dad took over the operation of the restaurant, the tradition didn’t stop.
When I was a kid I wasn’t too thrilled about chiles en nogada season because we had to help in the preparation. Cracking walnuts open and peeling off the skin was my worst nightmare. The only part that I really enjoyed was going to Amecameca, a small town close to the volcano Popocatepetl, where my dad used to buy big sacks of fresh walnuts. The quality and freshness of the ingredients are the most important aspect in the preparation of the dish.
What’s so special about this dish? You really have to try it to find out. All the hard work and long hours that are involved in its preparation are worth when you take the first bite. That’s exactly what I realized last night when, after a long week, I sat down to enjoy dinner with a group of friends. The delicious food, but especially the great company, made me forget all about the hard work and long hours I spent preparing this special dinner. Is there anything better than to enjoy a good meal with your best friends?
Chiles en nogada were the main course for last night’s dinner, but the rest of the courses were also a celebration to the variety and richness of Mexican cuisine. This was the menu:
First course: Black bean salsa in mini tortilla cups.
Second course: Guacamole in mini tortilla cups.
Third course: Spicy pumpkin soup in pumpkin bowls.
Fourth course: Chiles en nogada.
The real stars of the night were my friends. I had a great time with them and this picture shows that they did too. Thank you guys and thank you foodbuzz for this great opportunity.
Making this dinner brought so many childhood memories back, which is a very good thing, and taught me some new lessons. Next time I will get some help for the preparation and cleaning because now I am exhausted. I will also appoint somebody to take pictures. I was so busy that I missed so many great shots. And I will never order wine from cellarbrokers.com again. I was planning to serve a Mexican Petite Sirah that got very good reviews, but I never got it from cellarbrokers.com, even though I ordered it 3 weeks ago. But at least we could enjoy my second favorite Mexican beer, Negra Modelo.
Please stay tuned for the recipes that I will be posting this week and more stories of this amazing night.
For more 24, 24, 24 participatns please visit the official foodbuzz website.