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Eating like viva la vida

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Foods from south of the border are perennial favorites. Bold, spicy flavors ignite our palates, like fireworks lighting up the inky sky. All poetry set aside, Cinco de Mayo is a stellar excuse, to get in touch with our zesty food selves. This fiesta was established to commemorate Mexico’s defeat of the French at the battle of Puebla; a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the States we go all out celebrating the rich heritage of our southern neighbors.

There are several restaurants and food carts in town that dish up muy bueno eats. One such taqueria is Azteca Burrito in North Portland with burritos, tacos and tortas oh my, to eat in or take out. Thirsty? Step through the door to the over 21 area for an awesome margarita or icy cold Pacifico with a wedge of lime.

Eating like viva la vida is easy to do at home. Try your hand at a batch of red chile which is fabulous as a condiment with grilled meat, the enlivening sauce for enchiladas or for drizzling over huevos rancheros for a sure-to-wake-you-up breakfast.

Red Chile
(Makes approximately 2 cups)

You will need:

  • 1 – 3oz. package of dried New Mexican Chilies
  • Boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Place dried chilies in a large heat-proof bowl. Cover the chilies with boiling water. Weight them down and rehydrate for approximately 30 minutes.
  • Remove chilies from liquid and place in the container of a blender, add garlic and top with 1 to 1 ½ cups of the liquid. Process until smooth.
  • In a small sauce pan set over a medium-low heat melt butter, stir in flour and whisk, forming a roux. Add the pureed chile mixture to the pan. Simmer over low heat 5 to 7 minutes to thicken slightly, melding the flavors. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Store in the refrigerator for one week or freeze left-overs for up to three months.
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