A few months ago, I took a gastronomy class at the university from which I graduated. I learned about wines, beer, tried the food of traditional cooks and also taught me the importance of corn. Today La Lupita Taco & Mezcal reminded me of what that ingredient means to Mexico.
As Mexicans, when we talk about tacos, corn is their faithful companion. When we talk about the tortilla, we think of the taco. One cannot live without the other, and the Mexican cannot live without his taco.
But what I learned that semester was not to eat in the most iconic restaurants in the City of Roses, what I learned was about how we don’t realize what we put in our mouths; the ignorance because we don’t know the food we eat.
The cooking classes of La Lupita Taco & Mezcal in Cabo San Lucas made us question us, where does the food we have in front of me come from? How is it processed? How is that dish created?
When we arrived at the restaurant, we were greeted with a cold tejuino. The four and a half years I lived in Guadalajara taught me this is a fermented corn drink, consumed for centuries by ethnic groups. Now, not only do they enjoy it, we did it too!
It was a welcome drink that in a matter of seconds made me feel that I was at home. With a tejuino in my hand frosted with chili powder, I remember that as well as the taco and tortilla and fermented corn, we also have a valuable ingredient: the chili.
Chef Javier Galindo and David Camhi open the doors of their kitchen to show us step by step the process of nixtamalizing the corn. We discover different types of corn — in Mexico, there are 64 varieties of which 59 are native — and we saw how “limestone” made erosion with water, corn changed color, and we even experienced what it is like to crush the grain with a rock roller pin seated on a handwoven matt.
You don’t value the amount of work it means until you sit on the floor to crush the corn! Some of us may not have to go through this process in the present, but someone, somewhere in our country, do it every day. I think it is very valuable to understand and really analyze the work behind every ingredient. Many times, we forget that everything has a process!
We arrive at the comal where we had a station next to experienced cooks who knew perfectly how to make a tortilla. We made Yucatan panuchos and tortillas! I tried very hard to make my tortilla inflated to fill it with fried beans… For this assignment, I will pause and try to do a better job next time.
At the end of the class, Chef Galindo took a beautiful fish, fresh from the sea. He showed us that tiger’s milk — for me one of the best-kept secrets in the world because I had always wanted to know how it was made — was simply lemon, integrated with the fish. When these ingredients make contact, it takes a creamy white salsa with a touch of yellow. In front of me was the tiger’s milk.
The Peruvian ceviche consisted of:
- Fresh fish cut into pieces
- Serrano chili for some spice
- Lemon and a pinch of salt
- Sweet potato to give a sweet note
- A purple onion that is less aggressive than the white one
- Coriander, to add that punch of aromatic herbs
In 5 minutes, we had a healthy and fresh dish for these hot days, but also an explosion of flavor.
At the end of the warm experience, the newly graduated group of the class sat next to Chef Galindo and David to enjoy what was prepared, adding an exquisite scallop a la diabla, cornbread with horchata ice cream and, of course, to accompany the food, a colimita beer.
Visit La Lupita Taco & Mezcal and go back to the origins.