jueves, 31 de julio de 2008

Read your labels...

Taurine, now a popular name thanks to the energy drink fad, is still under the microscope in some places because its consumption might have some unhealthy consecuences. It's got such a rep that it's been banned in France. Red Bull even went as far as searching for an alternative ingredient in order to sell their drinks in land of Asterix...

One of the habits that have come with the increased use of hydrocolloids in restaurant kitchens is reading labels in the supermarket. If you've never done it, you'll be surprised to find "new" ingredients as Xanthan, Gellan, Alginates and others in your everyday diet (Unless you eat really healthy and natural, that is).

On a recent visit to a friends house, I picked up the can of Baby Formula and was pretty impressed to run into Taurine in one of the ingredients. No wonder mothers complain kids these days are so active...

I know that I should have written to the people over at Mead Johnson to ask about this, but I haven't made the time for this...

miércoles, 23 de julio de 2008

Best taco in ages

Being from Mexico, it's sometimes ridiculous to see a taco fad across other countries. Specially since it seemed to my untrained eye that the early international versions of the taco had absolutely nothing to do with the real deal. The incredibly simple and delicious taco. I've seen this trend spring around with a bunch of other foodstuffs I grew up taking for granted. But I guess this is just part of the process of food becoming global. You can't expect all of the ingredients to make the trip along with the idea.

Celebrating our anniversary with a recent trip, my wife and I visited the beautiful city of Querétaro. One of Mexico's UNESCO protected cities. In the Cinco de Mayo walkway, we came across a sign that grabbed my attention so hard, it practically pulled me in: Tacos de Chapulines (yes, that's grasshopper tacos).

It had been a while since I last had chapulines, so the Oaxaca-inspired taqueria/cantina was a nice place for a meal. The place was quite eye-catching, but then again, in a city where most buildings are considered cultural heritage, that's not the hard part.

We started off immediately with a couple of the tacos de chapulines and while we drank our beers, the waiters brouught our treats. It was a beautiful, simple thing: one tortilla laid on the plate with chunks of avocado, pieces of pork rind and a good handful of the little critters. Add a good spoonful of salsa and we were ready to dig in.

If you've never had the little buggers. Let me give you a very poor description of what it's like: Crunchy, salty with a hint of acid and spice. That's because they're so deeply fried that crunchy's all that's left and they are later seasoned with chili and lime juice. Still, it was a very good taste along with the pork rind and avocado chunks. How good, well, well enough to rate as one of the best tacos I've ever eaten. I've even gone to get me some chapulines at an artisan fair to reproduce these sometime this week...


Just this Monday, I receive what's to be my "new" book for our new First Semester concept: 'La Cuisine de Reference', now in Spanish. As I started browsing the book, I came upon a foreword from one of my former teachers in France: Chef Franck Petagna.

Meilleur Ouvrier de France since 2000, Chef Petagna worked in the Hotel Martinez, in Cannes, the Hotel du Palais in Biarritz. In 2001 Chef Petagna joined the staff of the Institut Paul Bocuse, and was later appointed Coordinator of Culinary Programs.

About a year ago, I received an e-mail informing me of the passing of Chef Franck Petagna. It was shocking to receive such news as he seemed in such good health. I was wrong, Chef Petagna had lost his battle against Leukemia.

Wherever you are Chef: Thanks.

Photo Credit: Thuries Magazine