Ay, Mamacita!

Ay, Mamacita!

My mother says she has Spanish in her heart. Actually, what she really says is, “Soy Latina de corazón.” About ten years ago she started learning how to speak Spanish. She traveled regularly to Mexico for immersion classes. She started volunteering at the migrant farms helping translate for doctors from the University of Michigan. She listens only to Spanish music. Solo.

She has bonded with the Spanish-speaking community in the little town where I grew up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Columbian, Ecuadorian, Mexican, no importa, if you are within twenty miles of here, you are going to meet my mother. And if you’ve met my mother, you’ve probably eaten at her house.

Yesterday we invited some of our favorite latinos over and we put together an unorthodox taco buffet. Jaime brought his famous sangria and we sat down together, gringos y latinos, and as we tried to understand each other’s native tongues, we crossed the border with our taste buds, too.

THE MEAL
Choice of corn or four tortilla
Cheese, sour cream and lettuce
Mom’s amazing black beans
Cilantro rice
Plum salsa
Choice of steak or chicken, marinated and cooked on the grill
Pickled red onions

Easy-peasy Chipotle Salsa

Tomatoes
Red onion
Salt
Can chipotle in adobo
Garlic (optional)

Take about two pounds of tomatoes and roast them on the grill or put them on a comal. You can roast about half of one of those super-big red onions at the same time. I didn’t add it, but you could also roast garlic. When the skins on the tomatoes have cracked and browned, take them off the grill or comal. When the onion slices are browned, remove them, too. Set aside to cool.

Take the skins off the tomatoes and put them in a food processor or blender with the onions. Take one can of chipotle peppers in adobo. You’re going to want to use everything in the can except the seeds from the peppers, so reserve all that yummy sauce and the onions in there and after seeding the chilies, put it all in the blender. Blend until smooth. Salt to taste.

Warning: if you aren’t a spice-a-holic, add the adobo sauce first, and the chilies one by one, tasting as you add for heat. Remember, the sauce will taste less spicy on top of your dish that it does plain, so if you think it’s reached your spice threshold, add one more chili.