Nov 11, 2013
November 11, 2013 by BOB KARISNY
On my Mexico culinary trip, I was instructed by Chef Martha Ortiz Chapa, chef/owner of Dulce Patria in Mexico City. Chef Ortiz Chapa approaches her food in a very vibrant way. Her passion for Mexico and the culture of her country is expressed not only in the flavors of her food, but also in the way her dishes look and are named.
As she made her dishes, she would talk to us about how the Mexican culture is exciting and alive in all aspects of life, from music and fashion to the flavors of food and bright colors. Her menu offerings are designed to excite all of your senses in the vibrancy only Mexico can deliver. She taught us several recipes, but instead of telling us ingredients and methods of preparation for each dish, she painted a mental picture that continued to grow until it rewarded your senses and your mind. A simple dish like guacamole became "Nationalistic Guacamole with Requesón and Pomegranate". Designed to honor Mexico, the dish (see picture below) carries the colors of the Mexican flag (red, white and green). The tortilla garnish is designed to mimic the Mayan Ring of Life, the chile pepper symbolizes the spicy nature of the Mexican soul, and the dark stone dish and blue corn tortillas are the earth and foundation from which they came.
While at Taco John’s we may not take our menu items to this level of expression, this lesson is an important reminder that Mexican food comes from a very bold, vibrant, exciting culture. And even if the food is not served so beautifully, it should still carry that sensory excitement to the guest. As I considered this, I thought of our new Santa Fe Bowls: the contrast of the white rice and the black beans, the rich red of our Chipotle or Chile de Arbol Salsas and the roasted yellow of our Roasted Corn Salsa, the flecks of fresh cilantro, yellow cheese, white sour cream – that is an inviting and exciting dish that expresses the characteristics of Mexico. I am sure Chef Martha Ortiz Chapa does not have to worry about Taco John’s stealing her business, but I am sure glad I had the chance to learn from her and remember that Mexican food is much more than food; it is a representation of a very alive culture.
I have included some more pictures of dishes from Chef Ortiz Chapa’s class so you can see the thought she puts into every menu item she makes. You can also find a variety of pictures of her food by searching “Dulce Patria” in Google and checking out images.
Filed under: Food