Several weeks ago I received by mail a present from my lovely friend Tere of Mexican-American Border Cooking. It was the cookbook Aprovecho, A Mexican-American Border Cookbook, that she and her husband, Robert Cordell wrote about the foods and life in El Paso, Texas.
What is Border food? Tere and Bob have two different stories. Tere’s family moved to El Paso from Chihuahua in 1915 and her abuelita, Annie, had to find substitutes for some of the ingredients she couldn’t find in her new home. Maybe, Tere wonders, that’s how Border food really began, with Mexicans coming to the U.S. and adapting theri traditional dishes to the foods and spices available here.
Bob’s family, in the other hand, moved to El Paso (which population is 75% Hispanic) from New Jersey when he was 1o years old. He remembers very well his first encounter with Border food at a Mexican buffet where all the colorful food looked weird to them. His mom, originally from Boston, didn’t prepare much Border food, but he would go over to a friend’s house for dinner he would try whatever was put on the table and wouldn’t ask what it was until after he had eaten it. Needless to say, he fell in love with border cooking.
Their cookbook is full of delicious Border recipes, from breakfasts to dinners and beverages. It also contains a section of submitted recipes by fellow Pasoans, a glossary for chiles, a list of items in a Border pantry, Mexican cooking terms and guides to making tamales and even cascarones (egg shells filled with confetti) and star piñatas.
You can find interesting facts about Border culture and folklore between sections. Do you know what a Mariachi band is or what kind of music is popular in Border culture? Have you heard the myth of the chupacabras or La Llorona? What about some Mexican Christmas traditions? You can read about them, and more, in Tere and Bob’s book.
When it came to Border food (and Tex-Mex food in general), I used to be very resistant. I used to think that it wasn’t really Mexican food and not American food, either. That’s because I didn’t understand the dynamics of Border life and how food has changed and adapted to the needs and vibrancy of the inhabitants of the region. Food (all types) evolves with society and it becomes something that might or might not resemble its origins, but that most of the time, if not always, is delicious and vibrant like in the case of Border food.
Without that veil of prejudice clouding my sight anymore I was able to enjoy immensely this cookbook. I sat down and read it like I’d read a novel from beginning to end and bookmarked the recipes (a lot of them) I wanted to try. There was one that really caught my attention because of the sauce main ingredient, avocado. I here share with you this delicious recipe that I just made for breakfast this morning.
- •2 TBSP butter or margarine
- •2 TBSP minced onion
- •1 4oz can chopped green chile (I used 2 chopped jalapenos)
- •1 TBSP flour
- •1/2 cup milk
- •8 hot hard-cooked eggs
- •2 avocados, pitted, peeled and cut into chunks
- Melt the butter in a medium pan over low to medium heat. Cook the onion in the butter until soft.
- Add the chile, flour, and milk and cook until thick.
- Peel the eggs and keep them warm in hot water.
- Whirl the avocados in blender until smooth (I used a manual food processor so my sauce was not smooth, but chunky). Stir into the hot milk sauce, season with salt and pour over the hot sliced eggs.