Enchilada dish brings back flavorful memories of trip
If you speak Spanish (which I don't) or have ever spent any time in a Spanish-speaking culture, you will surely get a chuckle out of today's story. Over 20 years ago, while on a weeklong mission trip to Mexico, I encountered my first experience with a "failure to communicate." I had my phrase book and had picked up the most important phrases for safety at our job.
But at the worksite, someone was always bringing food, making a snack in an open-air kitchen and generally taking care of us. One afternoon, a sweet girl of no more than 10 brought me what looked like an enchilada wrapped in a sliver of aluminum foil. I recognized a corn tortilla, but the rest was a beautiful mishmash of ingredients lost on all but the cook. I had seen her and her mother simmering a stew over an open flame earlier in the day.
"Caliente?" I asked, proud of my dictionary skills and new word.
She shyly answered with a shake of her head, no. So I bit into the heavenly fragrant, tortilla-wrapped goodness with all the gusto of a starving hog.
No ... caliente it was not. But, oh my heavens, was it picante!
I had no idea Spanish had two different words for temperature: hot and spicy-hot. But I've never made that mistake again. Now I can't think about enchiladas without the details of that story traipsing through my mind. Even though I was never able to determine what I ate that day, when my taste buds returned to normal, I was able to tell it was delicious and mysteriously wonderful. The corn tortilla was no more than a handy way to eat at a worksite where tables, forks and plates have no place.
Much milder and easier is today's recipe for Simple Bean and Cheese Enchiladas. Use corn tortillas for a heartier texture and any salsa for added flavor. Look for traditional vegetarian refried beans with just pintos, water and salt for the healthiest version possible. Enjoy!
© 2015 ALICIA ROSS