Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Something to Crow About

Whenever I find myself getting a little down in the dumps or stuck in a rut, I call upon an old friend to shake me out of it: Mexican food. Not the heavy, greasy, refried-bean kind of Mexican food (although sometimes refried beans might be just what you need: like if you are making seven-layer dip ... or trying to kill yourself very slowly), but the fresh, light, healthy kind of Mexican food I grew up eating in Southern California.
When I can't get my hands on ripe avocados to make guacamole, I make another fresh, healthy Mexican staple: Pico de Gallo. This classic combination of tomato, onion, cilantro and hot peppers is sure to kick you in the pants and get your blood flowing. It's called "Pico de Gallo", which means "Rooster's Beak" in Spanish, because the chilies used to make it vaguely resemble bird's beaks. Or maybe because it's so spicy you have to be macho like a rooster to eat it. Or, also, maybe because the chopped-up salsa resembles the food they feed chickens in Mexico. I don't really know, and neither, it seems, does Wikipedia. But you don't have to know the etymology to enjoy the stuff. Just grab some corn chips and a couple Coronas, and presto: Instant Fiesta. Make a big ol' batch, throw it in the fridge and pull it out to use it as a condiment on fish or chicken, or even on burgers, to give them that zesty, uplifting, South-of-the-Border vibe. It may just be the pico of your week-o.

Classic Pico de Gallo

What You Need:
4-6 Ripe Tomatoes
1 Large Red Onion
2-3 JalapeƱo Peppers, stems and seeds removed (unless you really like to play with fire, in which case, throw them in!)
Leaves from 1/2 Bunch Cilantro
1 Clove Garlic, minced finely (optional)
Salt and Pepper

What You Do:
Dice all of the ingredients into small cubes, and combine in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. Que rico!

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