Written by Anita
March 25, 2009Mexico is a country rich with culture, character, and cuisine. Chef Patricia Jinich introduced us to all its flavors at the first of a six-event series, Mexican Table 2009, held at the Mexican Cultural Institute (and featured on GregsListDC!) The evening highlighted the chic nightlife food of Mexico City. Chef Jinich, a vivacious and charming culinary guide, explained how modern Mexican cuisine has evolved over time, bringing together traditional, Spanish, and French influences. Each dish presented showcased this fusion. Special guest chef Joe Raffa of Oyamel first demonstrated how to make Cerviche Atún Pacifico—a fresh, delicate dish made with several non-traditional ingredients, like Maggi sauce (who doesn’t love this stuff?), pumpkin seed oil, and amaranth. Chef Jinich then prepared a fragrant, brothy mushroom and roasted tomato soup—the perfect counterpoint to a chilly Spring evening. Other demonstrations included a succulent seared duck breast laced with a sweet, dense Hibiscus flower and orange sauce, flash-sautéed spinach topped with pine nuts, and decadent cajeta crêpes sprinkled with crunchy toasted pecans. Guests then adjourned to Mexican tables, beautifully set in each of the Institute’s grand rooms, where we dined on these and other modern Mexican dishes (including delicious black bean and goat cheese tamales) while serenaded by a live (and lively!) Mariachi band. Mexican beers, wines, lemongrass iced tea, and sweet, cinanamon-y “coffee from the pot” perfectly complemented the fare. A brightly colored woven gift tote, chock full of ingredients key to several of the evening’s dishes—including corn husks, coffee, piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar), and Arbol chilies—made parting at evening’s end a bit less sorrowful. Late to dinner? Then mark your calendar for one of the remaining events, including demos and dinners celebrating walking fiesta fare, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s Independence Day table, the Day of the Dead in Veracruz, and Las Posadas in Yucátan Haciendas. Chef Jinich (who has three little ones of her own) also will be hosting a kids’ workshop for kids age 6-12 that will highlight corn’s culinary history and diverse uses. Register now to reserve your place at the Mexican Table!
We got a chance to chat with chef Patricia Jinich about her love of Mexican cuisine. Q: Where was your introduction to cooking? A: It was mostly at home—everyone in my family is in the food world. I have three sisters: one is a pastry chef, one is a caterer, and one is a vegan recipe chef. I was a political analyst before, but my passion is in food. I love it. Q: Is there a Mexican dish that seems complicated to make but is really quite easy? A: All of Mexican food! People think that Mexican food is burritos and quesadillas and that anything more than that is too complicated. But once you get close to it, you realize how basic and simple the techniques are. Like Mexican people, the food is very accommodating. Q: What’s your favorite Mexican ingredient? A: That’s a very hard question! If I think about what I use the most, I would say chipotles. I use them in adobo sauce at home—they are very versatile!