Written by Margarita Morgan
August 5, 2014
An unlikely pairing of foods for some people may be an every day meal routine for others. I was born into a culture that adds lemon and hot chili peppers to everything we eat, from main dishes to snacks and even sweet fruits. The comments I’ve heard from foreign people that have lived in Mexico for as little as a few weeks are usually a collection of amazed expressions combined with a bunch of expletives that at times support and others condemn what they think is a most unusual way of eating food.
I now live in Southern California where Mexican food has a strong presence. Salsa, whether fresh or in a bottle is always present at restaurant tables. We add lime juice and salsa to everything from Carne Asada (grilled beef) to fish and even Chinese food. Although hot and spicy foods are part of most every menu around the LA area, the addition of lemon or limes as they are known here is mostly reserved for those of us that were born and raised south of the border and our immediate family. This acquired taste tends to diminish its hold on later generations, for example, my kids are no strangers to my customs, but they can live with out salsas and lime, whereas I would rather starve than miss adding lime juice to the dishes in my plate.
Our candy has a mixture between tangy and sour plus hot chili pepper in powder form. Tamarind has a big share of the candy market where it is featured in many different forms. Its tangy flavor adds a vigorous salivating effect to the sour touch of limes; add a bit of salt and sugar and you have a combination of mouth watering tastes that can be sprinkled, dipped, pasted and mixed with virtually any candy flavor you can imagine.
Just about in every major corner around Los Angeles there are vendors that sell mixed fresh fruit cut in bite size portions. In a serving, which is can easily feed two people there is mango, orange, coconut, jicama, cucumber and watermelon. They add lime juice, salt and powder chili pepper, yum! Or at home, as a snack, you can choose any fruit and add Tajin which already has this last ingredients mixed in.
However unusual people think this combination may be, adding lime and chili peppers to every day meals and treats is a granted way of eating for people of Mexican descent, but the combination of flavors keeps growing. In recent years I’ve come across combinations that feature lime and chili peppers with a horde of new companions. What used to be simple snack such as cacahuates japoneses (crunchy peanuts) or cueritos (trust me, you don’t want to know) are now combined with so many other ingredients that could qualify them as a complete meal. Whatever the combination, lime and chili peppers are ever present at my house adding a familiar taste to whatever meals grace my table.
It may not look that inviting for many, but trust me, if you grew up the way I did, your mouth would have no trouble recognizing what your eyes are seeing, By the time you realize all the ingredients mixed in, your mouth will be watering like there’s no tomorrow.
Bacon and chocolate, caramel and cheddar… Is there an unorthodox food pairing you really enjoy? Share with us the weirdest combo you’re willing to admit that you like — and how you discovered it.
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