I am grateful for Grilled Vegetables. They are a joy to watch and an absolute delight to devour. It’s so easy to prepare, that I feel I could have them everyday. I came home on Sunday and our entire house smelled like “Yummy!”. My mom had the biggest smile on her face when she stepped out of the way so I could take a look at the oven. The picture shows what I got to see: Red bell pepper, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, broccoli and fennel sprinkled with olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. That simple, that luscious, that brilliant. Once she got the dish out of the oven and onto the table, we all jumped on it and feasted. What a joy to have a plate filled with Grilled Vegetables. And it’s obviously right-in-your-face-(or-should-I-say-mouth)-healthy! It’s as if vitamins were literally throwing a party right in front of my eyes! It made my heart and stomach smile. And what better way than to share it with the people you love. It’s definitely the only way to make Grilled Vegetables taste even better. Thank you, mom.
I am grateful for a Homemade Meal. It means so much to me. My mom has instilled this in me. She always wanted to make sure she could provide us with a fresh, healthy, Homemade Meal. We barely ever go pick up food somewhere. We sometimes go out to dinner – say like once a week – which she used to consider as her day off from cooking. But now I’m back home, I take over cooking, which gives her a great breather and a chance for her to enjoy dinner, without having to spend hours in the kitchen for it. And I absolutely love cooking, so it’s definitely a win-win situation. As I said it means so much to me to have a Homemade Meal, because I love the time you spend on it, knowing that you create something for the people you care about. Cooking is a great way to express your love to someone. The fact that it’s Homemade, makes that you know exactly what’s in it and that you can decide just how (un)healthy you want to make it. Like today, I went to the store and made up this dish. A turkey schnitzel (in my case obviously a soy one) on a bed of tagliatelle tossed with broccoli, onion and red bell pepper and all of this topped with some yummy ceps. Delicious! I love Homemade Meals. Love cooking them, love eating them. They just make me so happy!
I am extremely grateful for My Mexican Mom’s Cooking Skills. She is the reason why for the last two months half of my blog posts have been about food. The dishes she creates make everything else fade away. It is ridiculous. She has the incredible talent to turn the most simple dishes into a culinary festival and let me tell you this: My taste buds have been partying a lot lately. It is amazing and so beautiful to watch her cook with all the passion she has. How she caresses every tomato, worships every pepper and gives a single onion so much more meaning, attention and respect. It’s admirable and inspiring. I love helping her out with preparing food and during one of our encounters in the kitchen we naturally combined our talents, which led to our concept of the ‘Cucina Cantante’ (Translation: “The Singing Kitchen”). I don’t want to go into too much detail, but let me tell you that cooking can get even more fun if you do it while singing. Thank you Mamá for all the wonderful moments together, that I truly cherish. Spending time with you, talking, cooking, listening to music, watching a movie, getting groceries,… it is something I deeply enjoy and something I am eternally grateful for. Te amo.
I am grateful for Tomato. I absolutely love the flavor and the versatility of it. There are so many ways of preparing and eating it. So far, I don’t think I have encountered one I do not like. Whether I just eat them raw, cut into slices or cubes with some sea salt and pepper or I use them to create a tomato sauce or I make them part of a vegetable dish, it always does the job. Even though it is widely used a vegetable, a tomato is actually categorized as a piece of fruit. I am very amused by all the stories of its origin, but as linguist I was mostly fascinated by the Italian story. You see, in Italian Tomato is “Pomodoro”, which comes from Pomo d’Oro, literally translated as “Apple of Gold”. When the Tomato was brought from Central and South America to Europe, it was introduced into Italy as a golden yellow piece of fruit. When people started cultivating the Tomato in Sicily and the South of Italy the favorable warm climate gave the Tomato its beautifully soft and deep warm red color. However, people still nowadays keep on calling a Tomato “Pomodoro” even though it is not really yellow anymore. A fun fact related to that is that the first cookbook containing Tomato recipes was published in Naples in the 17th Century. Anyway, there are obviously many varieties of tomatoes – about 7500 of them – and you find them in all kinds of colors, including green, yellow, orange, pink, black, brown, ivory, white, and purple. I love all of them and I am excited to discover new ways of cooking or eating them.
I am so grateful for Guacamole! I just love everything about it. And I am so lucky to be right here in Mexico City right now, because Mamá Laura makes the best Guacamole. There are obviously a lot of different recipes and she even uses several different ones on different occasions. For today she decided to make one including avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro, sea salt and habanero. Mostly the habanero made the difference. It brings that particular flavor and that unavoidable spiciness, which makes it all the better. I honestly think I could eat Guacamole everyday. Maybe I should.
I am grateful for Papaya. It’s such a great, delicious and beautiful piece of fruit! It’s also so culturally connected. In Belgium it is hard to get fresh Papaya and it’s usually very expensive. Here in Mexico I eat Papaya almost on a daily basis. It’s so great to start your day with a plate of fresh watermelon, pineapple, melon or Papaya. It makes me feel great and healthy. But besides all of that, as I said, I just think it is such a beautiful piece of fruit. It’s nature’s work of art.
I am grateful for Chilaquiles Verdes. I don’t exactly know why, but I always considered them my favorite Mexican dish. I just absolutely love them. Ask any of my Mexican host moms and they know this. This picture is taken during breakfast here in Mexico City and thus an example of my Mexican Mamá Laura’s amazing recipe. I’ve mentioned before how great a cook she is, but I am amazed how she can even turn the most simple dishes into a festival of flavors. Chilaquiles basically are fried corn tortillas, cut into triangles – often called totopos – simmered in a green or red salsa. My favorite variant are the green ones. I think mostly because there’s just no way for me to make them in Belgium. It’s so hard to find the green tomatoes, while here you find them in any grocery store or supermarket. As I mentioned this picture was taken during breakfast, because Chilaquiles are considered a typical breakfast dish. However, you could also have them as a light lunch or I even enjoyed them tonight as part of my dinner. You can find them in many regional or even personal variants and they are most commonly topped with onion, cheese and cream. Some people also combine them with shredded chicken and they often come with a side of refried beans. A perfect example of how Mexico has some amazingly simple but absolutely delicious dishes. And I am not kidding when I state that I totally love Chilaquiles Verdes. Only writing this blog entry makes me want to sneak back into the kitchen to have some more.