I know this blog's meant to be about eating Mexican in London, but for the next few months I'd like to share my experiences out here, both food-related and other!
It's two weeks since I left the UK for New Mexico. Part of me is missing the conveniences of city life (like having a local supermarket or eating any sort of cuisine imaginable within walking distance), but the scenery out here makes up for that.
When I first visited the state in 2000, I knew very little about cooking with chillies. However, I quickly became hooked. NM is very proud of it's culinary heritage and they take their food very seriously. This was, after all, part of Mexico until the mid 19th century and being so close to the border, you can find all sorts of Mexican food on offer; from upscale eateries and regional specialities to straight-forward home-style cooking. The latter is something we still don't see in the UK: no frills family-run joints that turn out simple, good food.
However, my time here is somewhat removed from any sort of restaurant scene. As a volunteer at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (part of the National Park Service), the nearest town, Silver City, is 1 1/2 hours away. There are only a handful of restaurants within it which I am yet to try (and will review here). The park is on the edge of the first designated Wilderness area in the US and part of 3.3 million acres of moutainous forest. This area was the home to the MOGOLLON people, a pre-Colombian peoples who lived throughout the region, with the Anasazi to the north and the Hohokam to the west. Today's pueblo people (such as Hopi, Zuni, Acoma and Laguna) are the ancestors of these tribes.
But coming back to food. Corn, beans and squash played an important role in their diet and these remain central to Mexican cooking today. Learning about the history and development of these ingredients is something I can't wait to get my teeth into (quite literally).