January 15, 2012
I am in the Sierra Madre of Mexico in central Chiapas in San Cristobal de las Casas for the next few weeks doing recipe testing to veganize my friend Kippy Nigh’s vegetarian cookbook, A Taste of Mexico. This book features recipes from her restaurants, La Casa del Pan. Beyond removing and replacing all the eggs, cream, and cheese in the recipes, which are from Spanish influence, we are adding more traditional recipes from all regions, looking back to what was the cuisine here in pre-Columbian times. Although the original people of what is now Mexico were not strictly vegan, the protein basis of their diet was corn, beans, chia, and amaranth, foods that are indigenous to the area. Fruits and vegetables abound here with impressive diversity. We are collecting simple family recipes from the local people.
While shopping at the local organic market we had picked up a kilo of blue corn masa and were pondering what to do with it. Rosie, who works in the family kitchen here, suggested her family recipe for Memélas, a traditional recipe combining a corn tortilla folded over with mashed beans as a filling, cooked on a comal over a fire, and served with a salsa de chile. This is an example of original, simple, humble food, that is portable, nutritious, filling, delicious, and absolutely vegan.
Below is a view overlooking San Cristobal at sunrise, living above the clouds at over 7000 feet.