Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bayless & Kenndy: Some little white lies

Sometimes I wonder why I am not skinny anymore. And sometimes I wonder why I am not much fatter. 

That is a chicharron from the Azteca market in San Rafael. Diana Kennedy translates "chicharron" as "pigskin," but I think "pork rind" is more appetizing, if not much. The bright orange pork rinds you buy in bags, like potato chips, are foul, but the kind they sell hot and fresh at Mexican delis are satanically delicious. You can get big, crunchy sheets of pure skin or thicker pieces with hunks of meat attached. Yesterday, I asked a woman at Azteca which type she prefers and she gestured with tongs to the meaty variety, glistening under a heat lamp. I took her advice and bought some.

But I now think I should have gone with the skinny skins. I suspect the effect Diana Kennedy was after in her chicharron in green sauce was that of limp, soft bits of rind swathed in thin, tart salsa. I had something like this once on a torta five years ago, and have never forgotten. What I produced with my meaty chicharrones was hearty and tasty, but not what I remembered and not what I had pictured. I have not pictured it for you because pork rind taco filling makes a poor advertisement for itself.

We'll see if anyone in my family reads the blog, because I did not use "rind" in the description of the tacos last night. Not a lie, an omission.

Now for the lying. 

Do these look like pumpkins?
When you puree them with brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and cream and bake in a pastry shell as for Rick Bayless's spicy plantain pie they do.

So I called it pumpkin pie. I served this comforting dessert warm, with whipped cream, and Husband was uncharacteristically enthusiastic. "They really know what they're doing with pumpkin pie in Mexico," he said. He's from New England and considers himself an expert on pumpkin pie, popovers, pancakes, potato salad, milkshakes, and grilled cheese sandwiches. All other foods are suspect or pretentious. Plantains? Don't be silly.

Isabel, who eats like a hummingbird and hates bananas, consumed a large slab.
After I'd finished my slice, I reached and took a little bite out of the pie plate -- you know, to neaten it up --  a habit that Husband finds irritating. "You want seconds of the pumpkin pie?" he asked as he slid the whole pie plate onto my placemat and handed me a fork. He and Isabel both laughed. It's sweet that they have this bond.

Tipsy: Pumpkin pie? You mean PLANTAIN pie.

Isabel: I just ate banana pie? Gross. 

Tipsy: No, you ate PLANTAIN pie.

Husband: You lied to me like I was 2-years-old.

Tipsy: And I'm not sorry!

Really, they should thank me. It was amazing pie.


  1. To this day my mouth waters when I think of the chicharron I bought on the streets of Toluca.

    You know that they will now claim that they knew there was something off about the pie that they couldn't define. Neither of them will eat another bite.

  2. ah, this is marital treachery at its most delightful.
    i think this should become a new subtheme: LYING TO MY FAMILY FOR THEIR OWN GOOD--THE PHILISTINES!

    good for you.
    and as you say, an easy check to see if they're following this thing as loyally as the rest of us.

  3. I love how you just plonked that hunk of meat down on your railing!

  4. Big hunks of chicharron remind me of our road trips in Mexico. Nothing beats nibbling on a hunk of pig skin and drinking tamarindo soda while on the way to some quiet isla.

  5. Hmmm, so those were pork rinds I had two nights ago. I wonder what I actually had for dinner last night.

  6. Don't worry about it. How many things would we eat if we knew what was really in them? And if you have to lie, ahem, omit ingredients, then so be it. Lucky for me most of my family agrees that if they liked it when they didn't know what was in it, they still like it when I tell them. Although I don't see myself cooking with plantains any time soon.

  7. Personally I wish people would lie to me abut ingredients - then I might dare try more things.

    The pie looks delicious.

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