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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mexican Barbecue anyone???

I absolutely love barbecues in Mexico now, but you know, it took me a few times to get used to them.  They are not the typical Canadian/American barbecue, with a propane or briquette barbecue unit;  here they are called 'carbon' barbecues. Carbon meaning with wood, not charcoal.  The wood flavor is what everyone seems to like.

A typical Mexican barbecue pit is made out of bricks or concrete blocks.  Ours is located on a cement bench built next to my landlords 15 foot rock wall.  It consists of 4 concrete blocks, two on each side, with a metal grill placed on top.  The back of the barbecue is the wall, and the front is open so that wood can be easily placed inside on the fire.  The concrete blocks are loose so the barbecue can be moved easily.

Wood for the fire can be difficult to find, and fortunately there are two empty lots next door with trees and brush on them.  This gives us a readily available supply of wood, and with my recent purchase of a small Swiss saw (for 115 pesos), we can easily cut dead branches and fallen trees to obtain our fuel.

Food items required always consist of Chorizo (wrapped in aluminum foil before cooking), Cactus (which is also great for reducing cholesterol), Onions (the smaller kind about the size of a golf ball with the greens still attached) and lastly the beef (thinly sliced the Mexican way).  OMG, did I forget the hundred or so tortillas.  We get ours from the Mega Store.  They are corn tortillas, but not hand made unfortunately.

Raul, my landlord, always makes a marinate for the meat that is made using one bottle of beer, salt and pepper and a few dashes of Maggi Jugo.  The meat should marinate for at least an hour if possible.  The cactus leaves are sliced starting about an inch below the slightly pointed end, all the way down the leaf to the rounded end, into about 1/2 inch strips so that the leaf remains in one piece.  The cactus, onions and chorizo are placed on the grill first - usually near the back of the grill.

Usually one person does the barbecuing while the rest of the guests cheer them on; drinking beer or tequila or other similar beverages.  A few tortillas are placed on one front corner to warm, and the meat is then added to the other front corner.  This meat cooks relatively fast because it is very thin.  Darn, I almost forgot, we also need homemade salsa.  This consists of green Mexican tomatoes (tomatillo's) and cilantro and avocado - all blended together with a little chile, onion and garlic - I hope I didn't miss anything.

Men typically do the barbecuing just like in Canada and the USA, and women are served first.  Chorizo and the onions are usually eaten separately, but in many cases, the cactus, meat and chorizo can be placed in a tortilla with a little salsa, and eaten like a taco.  If a few kilo's of meat have been purchased you can feed a lot of people, and the eating experience can go on for hours.  Well, as long as the tequila and beer don't run out, that is.

Oh one last thing, if you have your barbecue on the lawn in the evening, be sure to wear long pants.  Mosquitoes here love to hover under the table and eat your legs and ankles while you are eating barbecue.  I guess they gotta eat too.