The legendary chef answers the question…what did you eat today, Jeremiah Tower?
Some friends are coming over for dinner tomorrow and this morning I went to my favorite breakfast taco joint in the Santiago (neighborhood of Merida, Mexico) market, “La Lupita.” Needed to think about the menu. I go there three or four times a week, depending on whether I plan on lunch at my favorite lunch taco joint around the corner from my house, “El Cangrejito,” or not. One can find the latter in most guidebooks, and one of my favorite things there is the look on North American first-time tourists who, looking down at their guidebooks to check the address, look up and see what must be THE definition of hole in the wall. Such a hole that they have to look back at the book, check the address again, peer in with a panicked look on their faces, and slink off back down calle 57 towards the T-shirt and hamaca shops.
I was there yesterday for the venado or venison tacos with radish, lime, cilantro, habanero and cucumber salsa, so it was La Lupita today for the manitas de puerco or poached and boned pig’s trotters that are then breaded and fried. On my three tacos they appeared chopped up and topped with those famous beet colored onions of the Yucatan. Of course I added some lime juice in which sliced orange and green habaneros had been soaking. Half way through my liter of fresh carrot and mandarin orange juice the main dish for the dinner popped into my head, mainly because one of my guests wanted me to use the mole she had bought in Oaxaca. I was fighting against chicken because somehow it shows up every day somewhere around here. The lamb is frozen from New Zealand and no good, but can’t wait to try it when it is. “Duck!” was my eureka moment, startling the people next to me. That’s it then. Poach the duck today, with ginger, cilantro, all the usual ‘aromatics,’ and one ancho chili, portion it, and steep it in the mole until tomorrow night. It’s a rich dish, so something simple for the fairly conservatively minded people who will be at the table. Hard boiled eggs prepared like deviled, but the yolks mixed with olive oil and my salt-preserved and finely minced Xcatic chilies. Put them on a plate cut-face down and spoon over some fresh pea puree mayonnaise with a hint of garlic. Some olive-oil mounted cooked beet juice around the plate, and a salad of cooked and finely shredded snow peas with an undetectable hint of fresh ginger and sesame oil. For openers very chilled ‘up’ cocktails with vodka and the juice of ripe Persian limes (in season for 3 weeks) they call here China lima. For wines I long and pine for anything made by Eric Pfifferling, but alas, nothing doing. // Jeremiah Tower, Mexico
—What Did You Eat Today, Jeremiah Tower? is a weekly 2paragraphs Food & Wine feature.