Friday, April 13, 2012

THE QUESADILLA PARADOX - A GUEST POST BY BEN HERRERA AT "WHAT'S COOKING MEXICO?"


market
I've always appreciated what captures my attention and is different, characterful, inspirational as well as a little unconventional. Those are the qualities I search in blogs and the people who are behind them. Because I constantly need to cultivate my knowledge, feed my curiosity and satiate my hunger for novelty, I totally dislike being bored, not challenged intellectually and anything that is déjà vu. If I don't get entertained by the things I see or read, then I'll easily lose my interest in them and will try to fullfill my cravings by searching elsewhere...

Ben Herrera's wonderfully exotic and captivating site is far from being insipid or ordinary and the same can be said about its buoyant author. As a matter of fact, both stand out of the crowd and have their own personality. That is the reason why I have been following What's Cooking Mexico? religiously for about 4 years and have not missed a single post since 2008.

This Mexico City native is passionate about food and his country's versatile cuisine. He knows how to fascinate you with his detailed and informative articles that combine history and anthopology, delightfully colorful pictures, traditional recipes and mouthwaterringly fresh, refined, spicy and vibrant dishes. A blog that deserves much recognition.

Being a big fan of Ben's extraordinary work, it is with much pleasure that I am hosting one of his posts today on Rosa's Yummy Yums. Thanks for having given me the opportunity to showcase your talents and to share your "Quesadilla" wisdom with my readers. That is so kind of you!

I’m almost certain that the majority of people around the world who have internet access and some kind of food curiosity know what a quesadilla is.

The word quesadilla comes from the combination of the Spanish words queso (cheese) and tortilla, Mexican flat bread made with nixtamalized corn (if you’d like to know more about this process please visit this link). The quesadilla can contain different kinds of fillings other than cheese. In Mexico the variety is endless. There are meat and vegetarian quesadillas. Some are small and others so large that they can be considered a full meal. Some are cooked on a griddle and some are deep fried until they’re crispy.

quesadilla2
In those parts of the world that have adopted the quesadilla, even more different variations are prepared. For example, in the American Southwest, a quesadilla is a very popular food made with flour tortillas and filled with cheese, chicken, salsa and other ingredients.

However, all quesadillas from all over the world have something in common. No matter what kind of tortilla or filling is used to make them, they all have cheese. All, that is, except Mexico City quesadillas. But didn’t the word quesadilla mean tortilla AND cheese, you may ask? Yes, but in the valley of Mexico City and surrounding areas your quesadillas may or may not come with cheese.

I love street food and I find myself eating quesadillas, tlacoyos or gorditas very often from vendors that look like the lady from the picture above. For some reason only women sell this kind of food and most of the time they cook them right in front of you from fresh masa (corn dough).  White and yellow corns are the most popular varieties, but blue corn quesadillas are easy to find in the streets of the city, too.

However, I have to remember to order cheese with my quesadillas every time.  This is the quesadilla paradox. Why is it this way in Mexico City? Nobody seems to know, and the rest of the country (and I’m pretty sure the world, too) finds it silly and makes fun of our way of eating quesadillas.

quesadilla3
Many people argue that quesadillas without queso are only tacos. But chilangos (people from Mexico City) strongly defend their position with arguments that this is the way quesadillas have been eaten since pre-Columbian times when cattle, and therefore cheese, didn’t exist in the Americas.

I’m not going to defend either position. For me a quesadilla is more than cheese and a tortilla. The filling and the sauce inside the quesadilla is really what makes them so delicious. However, I’ll try to answer the question that is on everyone’s mind: What makes Mexico City quesadillas different from tacos? The answer, after some research that involved eating a lot of them on the streets of the city, is not easy or clear, but this is how I would describe them:

A Mexico City quesadilla is a paddy of corn masa that is filled with different ingredients. The masa is ALWAYS fresh and it can be cooked on a griddle or deep fried in vegetable oil.

If cooked on a griddle the corn paddies are USUALLY oval and thin. The corn masa is cooked first and then filled and folded with the ingredient of choice.

If deep fried, the corn masa is filled with the ingredient of choice and folded BEFORE going into the deep fryer.

In both cases salsa is added at the end, usually by the customer. Other ingredients such as chopped cactus paddies, onion, cilantro or cream may be added to the quesadilla.

The list of fillings is endless, but my personal favorites are: chicken, quelites (wild greens), mushrooms and squash blossom. And here is where I finally come to the delicious part. The following is my recipe to prepare a quesadilla (with cheese) with mushrooms and squash blossom. It’s a very easy recipe, but what makes this quesadilla delicious is fresh and quality ingredients.

blossoms
Mushroom and Squash Blossom Quesadillas

The ingredients:
  • 100g Mushrooms, sliced
  • 100g Squash blossom, without the stems and washed
  • 1 Tbs Butter
  • 1/4 White onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 to 6 Corn tortillas
  • 1/2 Cup Oaxaca cheese, or any other kind of melting Mexican cheese
  • Guacamole, salsa or any other topping of your choice
The how-to:
  1. In a skillet melt butter and add onion to sauté.
  2. Add mushrooms and stir constantly until they’re cooked, around 5 minutes.
  3. Add squash blossom and season to taste. Stir for a couple of minutes until the blossoms are cooked. They don’t take long so be very careful not to overcook them.
  4. On a griddle or comalover low heat, heat up one tortilla. After about 45 seconds turn it over and put some of the mushrooms and squash blossom with a little bit of cheese.
  5. Fold in half and heat each side for about two minutes.
  6. Serve with salsa, avocado or any other topping of your choice.
 ¡Buen provecho!

Bio:
Ben grew up in a restaurant in Mexico City and also lived a big part of his life in the United States. He is now back to his native country where he writes and photographs his culinary adventures with Mexican food to share them with the world.

70 comments:

  1. I feel like I was there! I can almost smell the corn tortillas on the wood stove!

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  2. Thank you Rosa for introducing Ben! These look like delicious quesadillas! I've never tried Oaxaca cheese or any Mexican cheese. I should find one and try this quesadillas!

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  3. That is awesome! I enjoyed this post very much Rosa thank you for having Ben as your guest.

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  4. J'adore la bouffe mexicaine. J'ai vraiment adoré ce post. Bon week-end Rosa!

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  5. It is an honor to be feature on your blog. Thank you Rosa for this great opportunity and for your kind words!

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  6. Rosa, thank you so much for introducing us to Ben! I loved this post...I am a huge lover of street food too! :)

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  7. I've been a follower of Ben for years. He inspires me to try new recipes from his lovely blog. Also he always have great pictures.

    Have a great week-end!

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  8. Blue corn tortillas ... mmmmm! I'm so jealous. I seriously love blue corn anything. Its ethereal and exotic in an ugly-ish sort of way.

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  9. Good advice Rosa, I didn't know Ben's site, I joined it as I am an enthusiast of mexican cooking.

    Tlaz

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  10. I'll have to remember to ask for cheese when ordering quesadillas in Mexico City. The blue corn quesadillas look great! Love the squash blossoms too.

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  11. I really love quesadillas !! and these look amazing Rosa!
    I love Ben recipes!

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  12. Ah yes, we must have discovered Ben at roughly the same time as I have also been a fan of his site for so long now. Love this little insight into quesadilla as I love all (well most) things Mexican!

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  13. Merci Rosa ! plein d'enseignements et de belles photos ! Merci et bon weekend...
    bises

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  14. Ben, it's a pleasure to meet you! What a wonderful guest post, I think I know what I'm going to have for dinner now. :-)

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  15. Un joli voyage de saveurs
    Je te souhaite une excellente soirée
    Valérie.

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  16. I love quesadillas and those pictures are so tempting!!!
    Cheers,
    Lia.

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  17. Je n’ai pas tout compris, mais tes belles photos sont un langage qui me va bien ;)

    Bisous

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  18. A wonderful post, featuring one of my favourite food bloggers and friend. Love your recipes and photography Ben.

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  19. That is the most original, fabulous looking quesadilla I've ever seen! I want to hang out on the street eating with you.

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  20. What a grand posting - I love the variety, the history and all the food. And I am gearing up for zucchini season and will be using the blossoms in a new, non-Italian way!

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  21. Lovely feature and recipe. I love cooking with squash blossoms.

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  22. I've never seen a black quesadilla before. :D

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  23. How I miss all the delicious foods of Mexico! Thanks, Rosa, for allowing us to savor the tastes and smells of Ben's chilango kitchen:)

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  24. Hi Rosa,
    This is what an authentic quesadilla should be like. I would love to try this. It looks so cheesy and delicious.
    Thanks for the lovely introduction to Ben. As always it's a visual treat to be on your blog. The food looks beautiful!!!

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  25. I too enjoy Ben's blog too. He is an excellent photographer too.
    I love those authentic quesadillas!

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  26. Wow, I have never tried quesadillas with mexican cheese. Wish I can sample it. They look so delicious. Hopping over to Ben's blog.

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  27. the quesadilla looks absolutely fantastic, never seen a blue tortilla before its so pretty

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  28. Hi, Ben. Thank you for this wonderful culinary trip to Mexico! I have greatly enjoyed the quesadilla lesson and am totally amazed by the blue corn quesadillas. I feel a bit less ignorant about the Mexican cuisine.
    Rosa, thank you for introducing Ben's blog. I feel I'm going to love it!

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  29. I adore squash blossoms! What an inventive use.

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  30. Wow....looks great Rosa. makes me crave for some:)

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  31. delicious inviting dish rosa.
    maha

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  32. Gorgeous looking blue corn tortillas. Wish I could bite into one right now.

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  33. Great to see Ben here...love zucchini blossoms...in tacos too!

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  34. These looks amazing. Love Mexican food!

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  35. Nothing better than zucchini blossoms! Fabulous guest post....I'm drooling. We're doing Diana Kennedy in our Game Changers in a couple weeks. She's famous for her Mexican cooking.

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  36. Wow I would love to try some of those blue corn tortillas! Thanks Ben for an informative and very tasty looking post on quesadillas - the mushrooms and squash blossoms sound wonderful!

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  37. I love Mexican food and this post makes me miss Texas, although I do know that Mexican food and Tex-Mex are different. I would love to go to Mexico and take a cooking class someday.
    Sam

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  38. Yeah, quesadillas must go with a cheese :) cool recipe. I've made tortillas with chicken and nectarines, but yours sound so interesting.

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  39. awesome post and learnt from it thanks to both of you

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  40. Thanks Rosa for this great post. I love Mexican Food! That is awesome!
    Gros bisous and have a lovely day,
    Cheers
    Mamatkamal

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  41. I love quesedillas, these look so perfect!! I loved the squash blosson and mushroom quesedillas. Such a wonderful post Rosa!

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  42. I have a craving for Mexican food, especially for those great quesedillas which I've never made before! And thank you for introducing Ben :)

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  43. Como siempre un mensaje impresionante Rosa ,me gusta mucho la comida mexicana cuando estuve comí mucho ají,estupendas tortillas,abrazos y buen domingo.

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  44. Thanks for introducing Ben ... Gorgeous photos n great post

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  45. What a interesting guest post -- thanks for introducing Ben, Rosa :)

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  46. I have never tried quesadillas and the blue corn is intriguing me even more! Mushroom and cheese- yummm! It sounds delicious!!

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  47. So glad to find this post! We get lots of squash blossoms here and I love quesadillas and all of Mexican cuisine, unfortunately lacking in Lebanon are the wonderful fresh corn tortillas that I can find in Texas!

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  48. wow, those quesadillas are gorgeous and look totally deliciouso!

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  49. Delicious quesadillas! And thank you for introducing Ben to us!

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  50. I'm a huge fan of Ben and of course your blog too! Love that you are sharing Mexican food with your fans! Viva Mexico!!!

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  51. What a fantastic guest post and recipe! Interesting that they do not use cheese...really looks delicious!

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  52. I would love to explore Mexican cuisine more-the quesadillas look delicious :)

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  53. I absolutely adore Mexican food is one of our favorites. Thank you for the reintroduction to Ben and his site. It's been awhile since I connected.

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  54. Beautiful guest post by Ben. I love Mexican food, it looks and taste sexy.

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  55. Great guest post Rosa! Thanks for the introduction. :)

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  56. Tout simplement Wow!!

    Bonne journée ma belle Rosa XX

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  57. just nw i crossed d ben` space..really i liked it..n this one such a nice guest post..loved it..nice pics.
    maha

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  58. One of my fav blog, happy to see him featured in you space!! lovely pics,

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  59. Oh Rosa, I love this recipe of zucchini blossom in quesadilla...looks delicious and thank you so much for introducing us to Ben.
    Hope you are having a wonderful week :)

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  60. i love seeing squash blossoms in recipes--they're something special indeed! great post!

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  61. Very informative post on Mexican Street foods. I didn't realize how diverse their cuisine is and how fresh!

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  62. What a awesome guest post Rosa...
    I adore mexican cuisine and this looks fabulous!!!
    Fresh n Healthy!!
    You have great rest of the week...

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  63. A place I want to visit and hang around the local market and eat street food! This is a great guest post Rosa :)

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  64. wow! I would like to try that blue quesadilla!

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  65. What a wonderful post - love the blue corn tortillas! And quesadillas are particular favourite of mine, together with tacos as pastor!!

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  66. I have just bought anew Mexican cook book and look forward to enjoying more of this food, fresh and spicy

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  67. What a lovely post - the food looks so delicious and pretty!

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  68. Quel billet Rosa. Les photos m'ouvrent sérieusement l'appétit. On adore déguster la cuisine mexicain devant les match de rugby.

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  69. What a great guest post! I am a huge fan of Ben and his blog!

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  70. AMAZING! I love mexican food!

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