Monday, December 21, 2009

Cheese of the Week: Cheese Traditions

The Christian high holidays are here, and like most other religions the preferred way to celebrate them is with a big meal. Traditions are both easy to start and easy to forget, especially those that you only have to perform once a year. But traditions that come with food are always easy to remember even if recipes change a little every year.

In Mexico, most people cook a turkey for the dinner of the 24th. When growing up we were no exception, but it was the other dishes that I remember most.

The more Spanish side of my family used to make two turkeys. One had sweet stuffing (prunes, apples and raisins) and the other had a savory stuffing (pork and almonds). But, the highlight of the meal at my uncle's house was a dish called: Bacalao de Castilla. This dish is made with six ingredients (and I should say a lot of them). First is the salted cod, which needs to be soaked for three nights to get rid of the extra salt out and loosen the fish meat off the skin. Then there are tons of garlics, olive oil, tomatoes and almonds. The cod is cooked for over six hours until most of the oil and tomato sauce has cooked off. The final touch is jalapeƱo peppers and the dish is a bomb of flavor, spicy, fishy, oily, garlicky and above all full of memories.

The other side of my family, the more “Mexican” not indigenous but certainly earlier settlement in the country is known for Romeritos con tortitas de camaron.

This dish is made with a plan that resembles a young rosemary, but it is less aromatic and the leaves have more cellulose therefore they are more substantial. The plant is carefully cleaned and then cooked in a rich Mole sauce. Shrimp croquettes are made too and added to the final dish as garnish. Unfortunately, neither one of my Mexican families has a cheese dish.

However, at my boyfriend’s house, the tradition includes cheese straws. But these are no regular cheese straws they are serious-cheddar-cayenne-chilly-fluffy straws. They are just amazing! For that reason this week’s recommendation are cheese traditions. If your family has one, pass it along and help me and Will start a new cheese tradition of our own.

Happy holiday.

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