October 1, 2022

Cooking a Mexican Breakfast with Pati Jinich

Welcome to Eater in the Embassy, ​​where we interview ambassadors, diplomats and chefs behind DC diplomatic receptions and events about their local cuisine, working in an embassy kitchen, and their favorite places to eat around town. . In this latest edition, we visit the Mexican Cultural Institute, a branch of the Mexican Embassy, ​​and meet its leader Pati Jinich. Tune Connection to the metro of UMOA 88.5 at 1 p.m. for their side of the story.

When performing the cooking program for the Mexican Cultural Institute, part of the Mexican Embassy, Pati Jinich teaches courses on a variety of themes, concocting elaborate dinners around a particular region of the country. But sometimes, she is happier when she prepares a hearty breakfast for the meal of the staff of the Institute.

“In Mexico, breakfast is an important meal; breakfast and lunch are plentiful and dinner is very light, ”says Jinich, originally from Mexico and a familiar face to those familiar with his cookbooks and his PBS series,“Pati’s Mexican table. “She makes such a breakfast today, peeling and sautéing cactus paddles (nopales), in which she will bathe green salsa then poach the eggs in the sauce, serving the dish with refried beans, queso fresco and warmed tortillas. Cactus is no different from okra – it tends to be slimy and oozing, but the sautéing step helps eliminate this problem. When the salsa reaches the hot pan, it sizzles and splashes.

Jinich always tells his students at the Institute, “If you go to Mexican cuisine … and you don’t see smoke, and you don’t hear sizzling and you don’t see bubbles, don’t eat the food. “

The meal is an example of “drowned egg” plate (huevos ahogados), as Jinich says, and it’s a popular form of breakfast in Mexico. Eggs can be covered with any type of salsa – it can be spicy, it can be large, it can be made with poblano peppers or guajillo peppers. A visit to a typical Mexican market, or cazuela, will likely find vendors making ten different types of these stews, Jinich said. Eggs are found in the majority of common Mexican breakfast dishes, be it Chilaquiles or “drunken eggs” (huevos borrachos). Another typical element of Mexican breakfast: sweet conch buns, which Jinich loves stuffed with black beans (combining salty and sweet is not uncommon in a country known for its Mole dishes). Freshly squeezed Orange juice is obligatory.

mexico1% 20% 281% 29.jpgJinich found his way to the Institute by 2007. The former political analyst changed careers when she realized that writing about food and food was her real passion, graduating from The Gaithersburg Academy of Cooking. As part of his work here, Jinich has the opportunity to dispel common myths about Mexican cuisine. “It’s such a long list,” she said. The food is not always spicy. There isn’t always a chili in it, and even if it is, some chili peppers are sweet. And that’s not unhealthy either. “We love salads; we just don’t call them that, ”Jinich said. She enjoyed watching the evolution of Tex-Mex cuisine in America, a style of cooking that people often confuse with traditional Mexican cuisine. She was also interested in the rise of Mexican chefs as Enrique Olvera and Jorge Vallejo, which honor traditional Mexican dishes while incorporating Modernist cooking techniques.

Authentic Mexican food can be hard to find in the DC area – Jinich respects the hard work and research done at Oyamel (not to mention food) and ate meals in places such as El Chucho. Fuego de Cocina y Tequileria and the Taco Bar hole in the wall in Gaithersburg are on his bucket list to eat. Most of the restaurants she falls into don’t make their own tortillas, although it is common to do so in Mexico. “I always ask,” Jinich said, “and I’m generally disappointed. “But even knowing how heat well a tortilla – on a hotplate or in a saucepan, not in the microwave – can make a big difference in taste, she says.

But to really appreciate Mexican food here, Jinich says, “Cook it at home. “Her favorite sources of ingredients are Panama grocery store on 14th street and La Flor de Puebla in the Riverdale neighborhood. Mexican ingredients are increasingly easy to find in farmers’ markets, and even in mega-grocery stores like Shoppers Food Warehouse or Giant. “They can be hard to find, just ask.” It won’t be quite the same – in America, cooks can usually find about a dozen fresh chillies and maybe 10 more dried varieties, while in Mexico there are hundreds. But it’s worth it, says Jinich. Cooks can always consult his latest cookbook, which came out in March, for inspiration.

Season 3 of “Pati’s Mexican Table” starts in January. Those interested in learning more about Mexican cuisine can visit the Institute 24 october, when Jinich will lead a course on the evolution of Mexican cuisine in the United States
· Eating at the embassy: Pati Jinich debunks stereotypes about Mexican cuisine [WAMU]
· Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington [Official Site]
· Pati’s Mexican table [Official Site]
All previous editions of Eater in the Embassy [-EDC-]

[Photo of Jinch by Michael Ventura]