The Most Mexican Dish is not a Taco. What?
Tacos are synonymous with Mexican cuisine, right? We will go with a strong maybe.....while tacos are certainly the best known of the Mexican dishes, as the sophisticated connoisseur we know you are, we want to introduce you to another dish that is extremely popular in Mexico and incredibly delicious, but largely kept a secret outside of Mexico. What is this incognito? It is known as Chile en Nogada and it is traditionally served as the main course at special occasions and always a fan favorite.
Chiles en Nogada is a Baroque dish originally from the state of Puebla and one of the most representative of Mexican cuisine. It is prepared during the months of August and September when most of its ingredients are in season. It is also a Mestizo dish, in which poblano peppers are used as a main ingredient.
To know if they are ready to cook, they must be dark green and large enough to be able top place abundant filling. The picadillo is the filling of the pepper and has an Arab influence. It is made mainly from Old World products that have been available in Mexico since the 16th century. The filling includes apples, pears, peaches, and other crystalized fruits, such as biznaga (acitron), pine nuts, almonds, and walnuts, all chopped and mixed with the minced meat -both pork and beef. Spices are also added.
The Nogada is a sauce based on walnuts from Castilla (the name of the walnut is nuez de Castilla) which came from Spain but can currently be found in Puebla. It is also made with goat cheese, sherry wine and a bit of sugar. When serving for presentation, they must carry the national colors: the green of poblano chiliand parsley, the white of the Nogada, and the red of the pomegranate.
A bit of delicious history never hurt anyone.
After Agustinde Iturbide, (commander of the Trigarante Army) and Juan O’Donoju (superior political leader of the Province of New Spain) signed the Treaty of Córdoba in Veracruz, on August 24,1821, Mexican Independence from Spain was declared. General Don Agustín de Iturbide triumphant entered Puebla with his Trigarante Army, on August 28, 1821, which was his saint's day.
The nuns of the Convent of Our Mother of Santa Monica, of the Order of Recoletas of San Agustín, were preparing the feast of their Holy founder, who was named after the general. They were trying to flatter the new ruler and future emperor of Mexico. They prepared some poblano peppers stuffed with meat and fruits, which they decorated with the white of the Nogada, the red of the pomegranate and since the green of the pepper was hidden by the Nogada, they decided to add some sprigs of parsley, thus forming the flag of the Three Guarantees. These Guarantees represent: religion, union, and independence.
There are other legends, such as the one that says Don Artemio de Valle Arizpe, a Mexican writer, attributes its creation to three young ladies of the Puebla society who wanted to entertain their boyfriends and cook this delicious, laborious and complex dish to win their love. But the one of the biggest debates about this dish, among most cooks in Mexico, is if the pepper should be served with or without the egg batter. Common knowledge is that families previously used the egg batter on the chile as a way of showing the wealth of the hostess. Who knew eggs were sign of wealth back then?