Jenny, Sara and I walked through Old Town as we tend to visit tourist destinations when guests come into town. The streets were bustling with families and bar hoppers. Not many people shopping, but large populations in the bars. Mexican food is abundant and many restaurants have women in traditional Mexican dress making fresh tortillas right on the street. The rich aroma of toasted corn wafts throughout the entire neighborhood. Each tortilla maker uses their own method. Some use tortilla presses with wax paper, others roll with a pin, but the most impressive were those who formed each tortilla in their hands, perfect each time before they flipped it onto the griddle.
Reminiscent of days when we cooked chapatis in quantity, I started to contemplate making tortillas for dinner. As the evening approached, I made the masa ahead. In addition, our neighbor Joe had given us Tabasco peppers, Italian mild peppers and habanero chiles, so I also decided to put up Tabasco sauce, Pepperoncini and Hot habanero sauce. The kitchen air soon filled with spicy aromas laced with vinegar, causing the casual passerby to immediately start coughing. Sometimes, that is what it takes to clear a room!
The dinner menu took shape as tortillas were hand rolled and cooked one at a time. The main course of corn, pepita and lime enchiladas with walnut sauce would use the fresh tortillas to help define the dish. The filling was made with corn off the cob and pepita-cilantro-lime pesto with a fresh, green flavor. The creamy walnut-shallot sauce was ladled on top of each filled tortilla and the dish was garnished with fresh local avocado.
The home brewed Tabasco was served on the side, for those with a passion for heat.
Inspiration often can be unexpected as food is intimately entwined in the life of every person.