It’s no secret we’re a couple of foodies. But beyond loving great food, we both LOVE to cook.
Mark is a classically trained chef who worked in the industry for several decades. However, he openly admits that he enjoys cooking more now that it’s not his life’s work. On the other hand, Chuck grew up as a pretty picky eater but has become way more adventurous. And, he is really a great cook!
When we plan a trip, one of the first things we research online is the local food. We learn so much about a countries culture through their local foods and also the local markets.
We love checking out YouTube videos about street food tours as they almost always include a trip to the local market.
We’re fortunate that the Tampa / St Pete area has a reasonably diverse population. We’re able to get a wide range of global ingredients at small ethnic stores within a reasonably short drive.
Here in Saint Petersburg and just across the bridge in Palmetto and Bradenton, we’ve got several Mexican grocery stores. We actually stumbled on a local place with a fantastic bakery too!
We LOVE Pati and Her Mexican Cooking
We started out Mexican cooking adventures watching the amazing Pati Jinich on Pati’s Mexican Table, a PBS series that we found on Amazon Prime! It’s also a great way to add to our Mexican vocabulary.
Pati is a Mexico City-born cook who lives with her family in Washington DC. We LOVE her show because it’s a great mix of culture, eating, and cooking. We got an excellent education on Mexican ingredients and how things change from region to region.
The recipes from the show are all cataloged and shared on Pati’s website. We’ve tried making quite a few at home. If you had told Chuck’s family he’d be cleaning and cooking with fresh cactus paddles, they’d think you were crazy! He made a delicious cactus, corn, and guajillo chili side dish to go with a Pibil Chicken Taco recipe we tried.
Pati’s Salsa Callejera, a red street taco salsa, is one of our favorites. We now make it in double batches and freeze some. We do kick up the heat a little from what is in the recipe.
Santa Was Very Good To Us
Our cooking adventures continued after we returned from Merida- and Santa Clause was very good to us.
Chuck selected two highly-rated Mexican cookbooks for our Santa gifts.
Nopalito – A Mexican Kitchen by Gonzalo Guzman with Stacy Adimando.
The book is based on regional Mexican recipes that Chef Gonzalo prepares in his San Francisco restaurant.
The recipes are fantastic. The book is well organized, and recipes are broken into chapters that teach you about pantry staples and tools to small plates to things like pastries and salsas.
The photos by Eva Kolenko are outstanding! They really made us want to try more and more of the recipes.
Mark was craving Queso Fundido, so the rich, gooey Queso Fameado Con Chorizo y Nopales was the perfect fix. It combines chorizo, Oaxaca cheese, and cactus paddles into a yummy snack we ate with warm corn tortillas.
Oaxaca –Home Cooking From The Heart of Mexico by Bricia Lopez and the family behind LA’s Guelaguetza with Javier Cabral
This was our second gift and equally impressive.
This book also has fantastic photos and really focuses on Oaxaca, known for its incredible foods. The Amarillo de Pollo, a chicken dish in yellow mole with potatoes and green beans, was delicious and not what people might expect when you hear mole.
We’re loving exploring Mexico’s flavors through several significant points of view and experiences in regional cooking.
Be sure to follow our Instagram feed – if you watch closely, you might figure out where we’re headed next!