IMG_4677Some of my fondest childhood and family dining memories have been around Mexican food. Growing up in California, I ate out frequently with my mom. She always ordered Chile Relleno and a Margarita.  I always  filled up on chips and salsa, as well as soda with cherries.  I can still recall the aroma of handmade tortillas at one of our favorite restaurants. The simple pleasure of a warm tortilla, spread generously with butter, and salty warm chips with spicy salsa still make me smile. My first job was even at a Mexican restaurant, so I honed my palette with taste treats like tamales, enchiladas, tacos, camarones, and my personal favorite, fajitas.  Of course when I turned 21, I quickly learned to love a good Top Shelf Margarita on the rocks!

My kids love Mexican food too. So it was natural and lots of fun for me to experiment with and learn about classic Mexican dishes we could all enjoy together at home. Mexican Dishes typically feature ingredients with heat and spice like:

IMG_9748– Chipotle is actually just a jalapeno that’s been dried and smoked. Chipotle has a distinctive flavor that goes well in many sauces and salsas. It’s also the primary flavor in Adobo.

– Chile powder is a blend of dried, powdered chiles, cumin and oregano.

– Oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and anise are also used to add unique flavor dimensions to Mexican dishes.

IMG_9774– Cocoa is used in several dishes to add a rich warm flavor. Chiles, spices, cocoa, and peanut butter are used to make Mole. Mole is a smokey, spicy, sweet concoction often served over chicken. Raisins can be used to flavor certain dishes too. You’ll find them all in our Mexican Mole Sauce!

Of course, Mexican food goes great with Tequila! The first licensed Tequila manufacturer was a gentleman by the familiar name of José Antonio Cuervo. Tequila gained national importance during the Mexican Revolution. Prohibition in the USA boosted tequila’s popularity when it was smuggled across the border. Then during World War II, the demand for the Mexican sprit rose again in the USA after spirits from Europe became hard to get. So what’s with the worm??

IMG_8985The worm is purely urban legend. Although some American-bottled brands put one in their bottle to impress the gringos and boost sales, it’s simply a marketing ploy developed in the 1940s, not a Mexican tradition.

Sometimes however, there is a worm, typically a butterfly caterpillar. Yes, you’re supposed to eat the worm. But don’t worry. It’s well pickled and free of pesticides (they’re often raised just for use in mezcal, cooked, and pickled in alcohol for a year). But dispel the notion it has any magical properties, or that it’s an aphrodisiac. It’s merely protein and alcohol—but it’s fun to pretend!

For more Mexican Fiesta ideas and recipes check out our Cinco de Mayo Menu!