Wuhan Tortillas

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January 1st 2009
Published: January 1st 2009
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There are some things that are difficult to find in Wuhan...cheese, butter, baking powder, and .... tortillas. The only thing that we still haven't been able to find is baking powder but we still have a couple of containers of the stuff that we brought back from Canada with us last summer. Tortillas are available but they are quite a taxi ride away and any restaurant we know of that serves Mexican food is also quite a distance away. We both love Mexican food and purchased a Southwest US cookbook while traveling through the states last summer to bring back with us. Over the last few months, I have been making my own tortillas and using the local produce to make some great enchiladas, burritos, etc.

A couple of days ago, I demonstrated my new-found skill to our little private cooking club at the school. Word got out that I was going to be making something Mexican so a couple of Chinese teachers showed up to help out, and a hungry Canadian teacher showed up to taste the end results. I brought along a lot of my own equipment since about the only utensils in the school cafeteria are huge woks. Almost everything they cook touches the surface of one of these things at some point. There cutting boards are basically a cross-section of a mature tree and I didn't think they would want them covered in flour so I carted along my own little miniature wooden board to use. I tend to cover everything in white powder, including myself, the minute I open a container of flour in the kitchen.

As I worked away at the tortillas, the cafeteria cooks dropped in regulary to check out what I was doing. They are always interested in what we make during our weekly cooking sprees, but were especially curious this time since the foreigner was making "western food".

Mexican recipes are easy to do here since we live in a warm climate and most of the ingredients are readily available. They dug up an old frying pan for me to use. It was probably the only one in the place. I could have used the huge woks since the middle is probably flat enough for what I needed but stuck with the pan since they went throught the effort to find one for me. As I cooked the meat for the filling they only had a couple of questions..1) why didn't I add salt and 2) why was I cooking some of the veggies with the meat. Well..soory..sometimes I add some of the onions and peppers, sometimes I don't. I don't really have a technique. They said that when they had wraps at Macdonalds, the veggies were raw.

You have to realize that despite the use of recipes in most cases, or the lack of measuring, Chinese cooking seems to be very black and white. Also, 90% of the time is spent washing (although I think rinsing under the tap water leaves a little to be desired) and preparing the food, and 10% is spent cooking. But there are some things you always do and one of them is to add salt to any meat you cook. There are a couple of other things they always add as well. It is sort of like the way stuff is built here but I think the food is more successful than the buildings. There is not a lot of precision to my food preparation, it is just chop, chop.

The kids got a kick out of taking turns cooking the tortillas. Once I filled the tortillas, it took some prodding to get some of them to try the end result. They were especially leery of the refried beans and couldn't quite figure them out. I offered some to the cafeteria staff but they just couldn't do it 😊. In the end, everyone loved the results and it seemed to be a resounding success. The next day, the students were still raving about Mr. L's Mexican food!! And thanks to Kinbo for all the photos!

Anyway, "Xinnian kuaile!" (Happy New Year). Today was beautiful again with a high of around 10 C. Till the next time...

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1st January 2009

Looks like a lot of fun. Happy New Year to you both! Sylvia

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