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  #51  
Old 10-12-2017, 08:38 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
Of course there are spice mixes for certain specific dishes here but they aren't so broad as what taco seasoning implies. And you know what I am talking about when I say trying to narrow tacos down to a certain flavor or recipe is unbelievable to Mexicans. There is no such thing.
Before Mexican food became mainstream in the US, the main familiarity most Americans had with Mexican food was stuff like Ortega tacos and, of course, Taco Bell. And also taco salads. And taco casseroles. A "taco night" at home or tacos served in hot lunches in school were pretty much invariably of this kind of taco. Hard, preformed, corn shell stuffed with seasoned ground beef (or other ground meat, if you prefer), topped with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Sometimes sour cream.

That is (or at least "was") pretty much the "generic taco" for many Americans. And, while here in Chicago things have changed much over the last 40 years such that I can get everything from pork tacos al pastor to tacos al vapor/tacos de canasta to cochinita pibil to even goat eyeball tacos, I am comforted by the American riff on picadillo tacos for which taco seasoning was made for. Every once in awhile, I just want an 80s-style "taco night" (except I do soft tortillas--don't like those hard shells) with gringo toppings and McCormick's taco seasoning.

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-12-2017 at 08:39 AM.
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  #52  
Old 10-12-2017, 08:47 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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We also have taco pizza.

Here's a taco casserole, a dish my Wisconsin mother-in-law makes at least once whenever she visits. It's tasty.

Here's the taco salad I mentioned. Seemed to be a staple of parties back in the 80s, even 90s. I haven't had one in ages, but they're still around. Probably most famous recently for the Trump comment on Cinco de Mayo and taco bowls.

And, of course, the original taco flavored Doritos.

What they all have in common is that ground beef + cumin + chili pepper + onions/garlic powder flavor to them. (And usually lettuce, cheese, tomato.)
  #53  
Old 10-12-2017, 09:44 AM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
Before Mexican food became mainstream in the US, the main familiarity most Americans had with Mexican food was stuff like Ortega tacos and, of course, Taco Bell. And also taco salads. And taco casseroles. A "taco night" at home or tacos served in hot lunches in school were pretty much invariably of this kind of taco. Hard, preformed, corn shell stuffed with seasoned ground beef (or other ground meat, if you prefer), topped with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Sometimes sour cream.

That is (or at least "was") pretty much the "generic taco" for many Americans. And, while here in Chicago things have changed much over the last 40 years such that I can get everything from pork tacos al pastor to tacos al vapor/tacos de canasta to cochinita pibil to even goat eyeball tacos, I am comforted by the American riff on picadillo tacos for which taco seasoning was made for. Every once in awhile, I just want an 80s-style "taco night" (except I do soft tortillas--don't like those hard shells) with gringo toppings and McCormick's taco seasoning.
Soon after NAFTA went into effect in the 1990s, someone opened a Tex-Mex style restaurant in Guadalajara. They spent a lot of money building a large building and on decoration, etc. It looked like the typical American chain restaurant. They sold the typical "taco" you mention and other dishes like you would find in a Tex-Mex place in the US, everything covered in a brown sauce with lettuce and yellow cheese. It went out of business in less than a year. Last time I drove by there was an insurance company occupying the building.
  #54  
Old 10-12-2017, 10:14 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
Soon after NAFTA went into effect in the 1990s, someone opened a Tex-Mex style restaurant in Guadalajara. They spent a lot of money building a large building and on decoration, etc. It looked like the typical American chain restaurant. They sold the typical "taco" you mention and other dishes like you would find in a Tex-Mex place in the US, everything covered in a brown sauce with lettuce and yellow cheese. It went out of business in less than a year. Last time I drove by there was an insurance company occupying the building.
I don't find that surprising at all. I have a friend here from the Yucatan who opened up a critically acclaimed Yucatecan restaurant here in Chicago, and was complaining about how difficult it was for him to get his neighborhood Mexican population to eat his food (they tended to be from Jalisco and Michoacan.) He eventually had to add more more "safe" choices like arrachera and your usual assortment of steak and tongue tacos to get more of the local Mexican population through his doors. He explained to me, at least, that they were stubbornly regional in their eating habits. Eventually, the place moved, and then closed down. Too bad, since it was some of the best food I've ever eaten. The cochinita was to die for, their xni-pec salsa simply incredible, hearty sopa de lima, and chiles en nogada is perhaps the best Mexican dish I've ever eaten (OK, I know the last one is Pueblan, but this place had the best version I've ever eaten.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-12-2017 at 10:18 AM.
  #55  
Old 10-12-2017, 10:17 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is online now
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
Soon after NAFTA went into effect in the 1990s, someone opened a Tex-Mex style restaurant in Guadalajara. They spent a lot of money building a large building and on decoration, etc. It looked like the typical American chain restaurant. They sold the typical "taco" you mention and other dishes like you would find in a Tex-Mex place in the US, everything covered in a brown sauce with lettuce and yellow cheese. It went out of business in less than a year. Last time I drove by there was an insurance company occupying the building.
it could be so much worse.

http://www.aliadventures.com/2013/02...-mexican-food/
  #56  
Old 10-12-2017, 10:30 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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I remember traveling Europe in the mid-90s, then settling and living there from '98-'03. Mexican food, or what people thought of as Mexican or (more likely) Tex-Mex food, was pretty grim there. Hell, even the myriad ways people could fuck-up something as simple as an American hamburger.

Luckily, with the advent of Youtube and cultural knowledge spreading via the Internet, things really have gotten much better. Last time I visited Budapest, one could actually find masa harina and even huitlacoche on sale in specialty stores. (Budapest was odd, because it actually did have a very decent Tex-Mex restaurant even back in the 90s, started by some Mexican-Hungarian expat, I believe, from Texas. Like you could get decent Mexican style chorizo there. I was impressed, because everywhere else I'd been in Europe, it was more like the link from the blog above, and Central/Eastern Europe was the last place I'd've expected to find a good Tex-Mex joint in Europe.)

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-12-2017 at 10:31 AM.
  #57  
Old 10-12-2017, 10:55 AM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I remember traveling Europe in the mid-90s, then settling and living there from '98-'03. Mexican food, or what people thought of as Mexican or (more likely) Tex-Mex food, was pretty grim there. Hell, even the myriad ways people could fuck-up something as simple as an American hamburger.

Luckily, with the advent of Youtube and cultural knowledge spreading via the Internet, things really have gotten much better. Last time I visited Budapest, one could actually find masa harina and even huitlacoche on sale in specialty stores. (Budapest was odd, because it actually did have a very decent Tex-Mex restaurant even back in the 90s, started by some Mexican-Hungarian expat, I believe, from Texas. Like you could get decent Mexican style chorizo there. I was impressed, because everywhere else I'd been in Europe, it was more like the link from the blog above, and Central/Eastern Europe was the last place I'd've expected to find a good Tex-Mex joint in Europe.)
My daughter lives in Italy and travels frequently in her job (she is director for international marketing for Eataly, I believe Chicago has a store). She has commented on several very good taco places in Europe. One in London, if I recall, and the other surprisingly in Copenhagen. She has also encountered a few places that offer Mexican products such as masa harina. On our visits to Italy we have found it difficult to find quality ingredients. My wife and daughter always invite the Italian family and friends for a Mexican meal and it is a challenge to find the needed items. Our suitcases are always at the maximum weight allowed due things like tequila, canned and dried chiles, achiote, bottled sauces, masa harina, tostadas, tortillas, dried beans and other goodies.

My wife's cochinita pibil was one of the most popular dishes among the Italians.
  #58  
Old 10-12-2017, 11:11 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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My wife's cochinita pibil was one of the most popular dishes among the Italians.
I froze dead in my tracks when I saw this poster at a Budapest tacqueria back in March.

And, yes, I did try it. It was a valiant effort, but I suspect nobody was ordering it and the meat just hung around for too long, because it was pretty dry and stringy by the time I got it. The spicing was in the ballpark: definitely had that citrus & achiote flavor to it. The pickled onions were a little bit lame, and I was hoping for some habanero salsa but no dice. Still, pretty impressive for me to see a mainstream taco joint in Eastern Europe trying cochinita pibil.
  #59  
Old 10-12-2017, 12:12 PM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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I froze dead in my tracks when I saw this poster at a Budapest tacqueria back in March.

And, yes, I did try it. It was a valiant effort, but I suspect nobody was ordering it and the meat just hung around for too long, because it was pretty dry and stringy by the time I got it. The spicing was in the ballpark: definitely had that citrus & achiote flavor to it. The pickled onions were a little bit lame, and I was hoping for some habanero salsa but no dice. Still, pretty impressive for me to see a mainstream taco joint in Eastern Europe trying cochinita pibil.
That's pretty cool! My wife made 2 preparations of the cebolla desflemada. One with and one without (for the people not used to the heat) chile habanero.

BTW Clemente Jacques brand makes a very nice habanero relish type sauce. I'm sure you can find it in Chicago.
  #60  
Old 10-12-2017, 03:05 PM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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And you know what I am talking about when I say trying to narrow tacos down to a certain flavor or recipe is unbelievable to Mexicans. There is no such thing.!
Oh, yeah, absolutely. I specifically said "American style tacos"; sorry for the confusion.
  #61  
Old 10-12-2017, 07:53 PM
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There was an effort in the 1960's to sell "foreign" foods by US companies.
<snip>
"Old El Paso" and another company the name of which I do not remember, sold taco shells, corn torillas fried into a U shape, with "taco seasoning", a thickening agent and mild pepper. The housewife added ground beef.
These have become pretty popular in Australian supermarkets over the last 10 years. The burrito version has the same thing with soft flour tortillas. Are they not still common in America?
  #62  
Old 10-12-2017, 08:27 PM
neofishboy neofishboy is online now
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I haven't seen taco "kits" for a while, but the individual components are still ubiquitous in American supermarkets. As a kid growing up in the '70s these were the first tacos I ever had, so they're kind of comfort food for me. In fact, we're having them tonight. Old El Paso flat-bottomed shells, refried bean schmear at the bottom, ground beef cooked with "taco seasoning" (homemade this time because my pregnant wife is having issues with salt giving her swollen feet), shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, guac, salsa, and sour cream.

Got a few beers and FXX is airing a "Sideshow Bob" Simpsons marathon. Life is good.
  #63  
Old 10-12-2017, 09:15 PM
nightshadea nightshadea is offline
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its always funny when someone from back east goes in the hole in the wall taco shops we get here in ca and is totally shocked that they don't make theirs like home or taco bell .......they argue about the shells not being hard and about the size ect ..... oh the main offense is " no ground beef" finally a few of the places by me came up with "tacos gringos" and ill get asked "you want real tacos or gringos ?"

very few people seem not to know that unless your 3rd or 4th generation Mexican American ground beef in tacos is a good way to be thrown out of the house and or family..... the abulita I knew had a daughter in law that dared to put ground beef in enchiladas tacos ect (she was blonde blue eyed from iowa )..... I admit she wasn't the brightest light in the box but everytime something happened it was "what do you expect when you marry a girl who puts hamburger in her cooking? "

One of the younger girls took pity on her and showed her the fine art of carne and pollo asada and tamales and she made Christmas dinner a few months later and grandma said in front of a whole table of people " this is the best xmas present I have ever gotten thank the lord someone finally taught you how to properly cook !"

a few guest choked and waited for the fight but since grandma was 85 and didn't give a damn and most of us knew it we just hid our faces to keep from laughing and her husband just looked like yes my moms such a bitch
But the grand and great grand kids learned to eat taco bell outside of grandmas house ........

Last edited by nightshadea; 10-12-2017 at 09:17 PM.
  #64  
Old 10-13-2017, 12:40 AM
Elemenopy Elemenopy is offline
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Cumin is awesome, though, even if overdone in Tex-Mex. Last year I made a toasted cumin, orange, lime and chile ice cream that sounds disgusting, but it was amazing. We sprinkled minced cilantro over some of it, which was interesting, but not necessarily an improvement. I was trying to mimic the fun of Pulparindo candy, but didn't have any tamarind.
  #65  
Old 10-13-2017, 07:21 AM
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Are they not still common in America?
Yes, they are. Grocery stores now have "real" Mexican canned goods.
  #66  
Old 10-13-2017, 07:38 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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I haven't seen taco "kits" for a while
Oh, they're still around. Here it is at Target. Looks like about half the Targets in my area stock it. I'm also fairly certain my local grocery carries it, but I haven't been in the market for a taco kit, so I'm not 100% sure.
  #67  
Old 10-13-2017, 09:58 AM
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My daughter called me from Munich this morning. She asked if I wanted to have a heart attack. Of course I said no, why did she ask? She said she had just paid 22 euros for a kilo of tomate verde (tomatillo for you Americans)!!! My wife and cuñada had just purchased 20 kilos yesterday and paid 9.50 pesos a kilo. I did the math on the exchange rate, around 22 pesos to the euro, and they cost more than 50 times in Munich than here in Guadalajara!

I asked why she would pay so much and she said she had a craving for carne en su jugo that she'll fix this weekend when she is at home. I told her she is crazy!

Last edited by CBEscapee; 10-13-2017 at 10:00 AM.
  #68  
Old 10-13-2017, 11:12 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Do the tomatillos need to be fresh for that? At those prices, I think I'd look for canned.
  #69  
Old 10-14-2017, 08:45 PM
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My daughter called me from Munich this morning. She asked if I wanted to have a heart attack. Of course I said no, why did she ask? She said she had just paid 22 euros for a kilo of tomate verde (tomatillo for you Americans)!!! My wife and cuñada had just purchased 20 kilos yesterday and paid 9.50 pesos a kilo. I did the math on the exchange rate, around 22 pesos to the euro, and they cost more than 50 times in Munich than here in Guadalajara!
I envy her! When I served my five year stint in China, tomates didn't exist. I smuggled in some canned tomatillos at times, but they didn't last very long. I'd've been happy to pay 171 CNY for some fresh tomatillos. I did pay about 8 USD for each avocado, though.

Actually, a lot of things didn't exist, but I smuggled in seeds for those. China has a lot of chiles, but not serranos (I grew them). I tried to grow tomatillos, but they didn't prosper. Jitomate, no problem, huitlacoche, I didn't bother growing corn; but I'm proud of my Mexican oregano harvests (much different than American/Italian oregano).
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Old 10-14-2017, 09:15 PM
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I remember someone telling me that it could be proven that the most popular non Mexican food in Mexico was Chinese/Asian...... because it was different but still spicy .....
  #71  
Old 10-14-2017, 09:30 PM
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I remember someone telling me that it could be proven that the most popular non Mexican food in Mexico was Chinese/Asian...... because it was different but still spicy .....
That violates my experience that Mexican food is not spicy.
  #72  
Old 10-14-2017, 09:38 PM
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If I were making Tacos a la American Bourgeoisie, I would just sear the ground meat with onion, garlic and chiles, then add a a couple of tablespoons of sofrito, a tablespoon of cider or white vinegar, and a teaspoon of oregano, and simmer on low for about ten minutes.
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  #73  
Old 10-14-2017, 11:01 PM
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I remember someone telling me that it could be proven that the most popular non Mexican food in Mexico was Chinese/Asian...... because it was different but still spicy .....
I think that someone was mistaken. Other than sushi there is little Asian fare offered compared to Italian. Argentine style steak houses are also very popular.
  #74  
Old 10-15-2017, 09:32 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
My daughter called me from Munich this morning. She asked if I wanted to have a heart attack. Of course I said no, why did she ask? She said she had just paid 22 euros for a kilo of tomate verde (tomatillo for you Americans)!!! My wife and cuñada had just purchased 20 kilos yesterday and paid 9.50 pesos a kilo. I did the math on the exchange rate, around 22 pesos to the euro, and they cost more than 50 times in Munich than here in Guadalajara!

I asked why she would pay so much and she said she had a craving for carne en su jugo that she'll fix this weekend when she is at home. I told her she is crazy!
Oh, good god, you're now making me crave carne en su jugo.

But, yeah, that's pretty typical. Any kind of niche item, especially if it's fresh, will generally command a much higher price, even after adjusting for average wage/living costs, than in the country where it's an everyday foodstuff. That does still seem a bit high--I'd expect it to be more on the order of 10 euros a kilo. I mean, here in the US, they're about $0.75 a pound at the Mexican grocery to probably $3 a pound in more upscale stores. Your daughter bought them for the equivalent of $12 a pound. So, actually, now that I think of it, maybe it's not all that crazy given the niche supply and demand of tomatillos in Munich.

Maybe it's time to start a business?
  #75  
Old 10-15-2017, 09:44 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Missed the edit: My similar experience in Budapest one year was trying to find fresh cranberries (or, really, any cranberries). We wanted to do a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner so, of course, we need cranberries for the sauce! Here in the US, a 12 oz package is about $1 or so, and you can even find it on sale for $0.50 during the holidays or with a coupon. When I finally found them, they were on the order of about $7 for the same bag. I needed a couple of bags, so it felt crazy paying $14 for a pound and a half of cranberries, when we didn't even pay that much for the entire turkey.
  #76  
Old 10-15-2017, 10:16 AM
CBEscapee CBEscapee is offline
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Oh, good god, you're now making me crave carne en su jugo.

But, yeah, that's pretty typical. Any kind of niche item, especially if it's fresh, will generally command a much higher price, even after adjusting for average wage/living costs, than in the country where it's an everyday foodstuff. That does still seem a bit high--I'd expect it to be more on the order of 10 euros a kilo. I mean, here in the US, they're about $0.75 a pound at the Mexican grocery to probably $3 a pound in more upscale stores. Your daughter bought them for the equivalent of $12 a pound. So, actually, now that I think of it, maybe it's not all that crazy given the niche supply and demand of tomatillos in Munich.

Maybe it's time to start a business?
As I posted earlier, she works for a large food retailer/restaurant business named Eataly. She has a Masters degree from Bocconi in Milan in Food Management. We have had serious discussions on starting a Mexican food related business in Europe. She has had several offers to partner with people that have solid financial resources.

She is more inclined to something like a large scale tortillerìa or wholesale canned and bottled products. She is starting to tire from all of the travel required in her present job so perhaps there will be an opportunity in the future for running her own business.
  #77  
Old 10-15-2017, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
My daughter called me from Munich this morning. She asked if I wanted to have a heart attack. Of course I said no, why did she ask? She said she had just paid 22 euros for a kilo of tomate verde (tomatillo for you Americans)!!! My wife and cuñada had just purchased 20 kilos yesterday and paid 9.50 pesos a kilo. I did the math on the exchange rate, around 22 pesos to the euro, and they cost more than 50 times in Munich than here in Guadalajara!
doesn't surprise me, really; tomatoes and tomatillos are native to Mexico and Central America.

I've no idea how tomatoes got such a strong association with Italian cuisine.
  #78  
Old 10-15-2017, 11:19 AM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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doesn't surprise me, really; tomatoes and tomatillos are native to Mexico and Central America.

I've no idea how tomatoes got such a strong association with Italian cuisine.
Here's a brief history of the tomato coming over from the New World. What I find interesting is that tomatillos actually did come over to Europe, and they were considered interchangeable with tomatoes. I guess the Europeans just didn't have the fondness for tomatillos as they did tomatoes.

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-15-2017 at 11:21 AM.
  #79  
Old 10-15-2017, 12:15 PM
Jeff Lichtman Jeff Lichtman is online now
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She said she had just paid 22 euros for a kilo of tomate verde (tomatillo for you Americans)!!!
You now know what your daughter needs to do to make her fortune: become a tomate verde farmer.

Allspice can be a good addition to taco seasoning. Be sure to get fresh, whole allspice and grind it yourself.
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  #80  
Old 10-15-2017, 01:03 PM
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doesn't surprise me, really; tomatoes and tomatillos are native to Mexico and Central America.

I've no idea how tomatoes got such a strong association with Italian cuisine.

Here is an
interesting tale.
  #81  
Old 10-15-2017, 06:18 PM
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Here is an
interesting tale.
Yes it is interesting. But I found it interesting not because of how it came into use in Italy but the eurocentric or americentric view of the author in the following quote:

"The odd thing is that the tomato became popular in Europe long before it came to be used in North America."

I guess its use by the indigenous of México didn't count!
  #82  
Old 10-15-2017, 07:26 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Yes it is interesting. But I found it interesting not because of how it came into use in Italy but the eurocentric or americentric view of the author in the following quote:

"The odd thing is that the tomato became popular in Europe long before it came to be used in North America."

I guess its use by the indigenous of México didn't count!
Quick question:

Tomatillo, tomate verde -- is this a regional difference? I occasionally watch some Mexican cooking Youtube channels (even though I really don't speak Spanish beyond understanding cooking terms) and it seems that both terms are used. Are there parts of Mexico where one term is more common than the other? Or is it used interchangeably everywhere?

Also, I've always wondered about tomate vs jitomate? Also a regional thing? Can you say "jitomate verde"?

Oh, and while we're at it, tomate verde -- do you ever use unripe green tomatoes in Mexican cooking? If so, are they just called "unripe tomatoes" or something like that since "tomate verde" refers to what I know as tomatillo? Or is it a contextual thing?
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Old 10-15-2017, 09:33 PM
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The nahuatl word was tomatl but there were different names for different varieties. Tomate verde, tomate de càscara or just tomate is what you'll hear here in Jalisco and nearby states and in the south. I think tomatillo is maybe used more in north Mèxico. Then there are miltomates or tomate milpero which grow among the corn or calabaza plants. They are usually a lot smaller in size and have a sweeter flavor. My mother and my wife both preferred the miltomate when making a salsa cruda. My grandfather used to plant corn and miltomate on some land he owned outside of Guadalajara. They would use a method called "a voleo" where they tossed the seeds randomly, I think scatter is the right word. We were always treated to a really good pozole verde made with the miltomate and fresh corn (not dry maiz pozolero that you may know) at harvest.

Jitomate comes from the nahuatl xitomatl. I would say either jitomate verde or jitomate no maduro for green tomato. But to confuse you even more, large tomato producers will often use the word tomate for tomato. I don't know of any dishes that use green tomatoes. I asked my wife who is very knowledgeable on traditional cooking and she said she didn't know of any but there may be dishes in other parts of the country that use them.
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Old 10-15-2017, 10:10 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
Then there are miltomates or tomate milpero which grow among the corn or calabaza plants. They are usually a lot smaller in size and have a sweeter flavor.
Ah, yes, we get those around here, too. Labeled as "tomatillo milpero." I've never explored them enough to figure out what the difference between them and regular tomatillos were.
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Old 10-15-2017, 10:13 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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Originally Posted by CBEscapee View Post
I don't know of any dishes that use green tomatoes. I asked my wife who is very knowledgeable on traditional cooking and she said she didn't know of any but there may be dishes in other parts of the country that use them.
I should say, it's not super popular around here, either, but they are user for at least pickled green tomatoes and fried green tomatoes (which are much more usual in the South, not where I'm from). One of the supermarkets in my area does sell unripened green tomatoes (on purpose), though. I assume they are used by some of the picklers in the area, but I don't know for certain.

Last edited by pulykamell; 10-15-2017 at 10:14 PM.
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