...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Food journal number 31: Tacos

Tacos?! Absolutely! Let Anne from the Swedish food blog Anne's Food explain:
Swedes love "latin" food. Well, here, we pretty much call it tex-mex. And let me tell you, Swedes love their "tex-mex". Which means, in a nutshell, tacos. And sometimes nowadays burritos and fajitas too. Let me tell you what's NOT common, at all: beans. And there are no corn tortillas to be found. And no fancy corn chips - just regular yellow ones, with or without cheese flavor. There are a few different kinds of salsas, but very few chillies to be found in most stores. However, to get an idea of how popular this is, I'd say that most Swedish families eat "tex-mex" at least every month. Which is quite a lot for a country so far from Mexico, and with absolutely no Mexican immigration.
Yeah, so that explains the certainty of finding a whole tex-mex section in any of the groceries here! And yeah, come to think of it, we do have tacos at least once a month – that's about 10 times more often than how often (or seldom) we prepared tacos at home in the Philippines!

Two taco dinners ago, I took this picture.

In fact, we eat tacos so often that we included it in our financial strategy to buy the 20-pack taco shells instead of the 12-pack ones, buy a whole jar of jalapeños instead of having to buy chilies all the time, buy a 1-liter (!) lemon juice bottle for making salsas, and buy 2 kilos of mincemeat at a time (we freeze them in smaller portions). I can tell you that buying wholesale pays off if you consider how often we crave for tacos. To give you an idea of how often that is in a year, we finished off the 2 five-fluid ounce (i.e. family-sized) bottles of Tabasco Kristine gave us last spring from New York – and they've mostly been used just for tacos (and the occasional pizza). Even I find it hard to believe.

People whom I know that love spicy food here ("tex-mex" included) tell me that it might be because their mothers cooked bland food when they were kids. Maybe that's why Swedes love kebab and pizza – it's just so un-Swede. Tex-mex is another opportunity to experience "exotic" tastes in the palate, but as Anne pointed out, the lack of Mexican immigration here mean that even these tastes are a bit Swedified: no beans, no corn tortillas, and no exotic chili varieties. Actually, older people think "mild" hot sauce and "mild" taco sauce are really, really strong.

After Kristine visited us last year and cooked us Mexican dinner, we graduated from bottled taco sauce and started making our own. For this, I usually purée some finely diced yellow onions and seeded tomatoes with a jalapeños, lemon juice and salt, then mix the purée with coarsely chopped tomatoes and onions before letting them all stand in the refrigerator until tacos are served (chopped cilantro is also an optional thing that adds to the taste). The meat, however, we still cook with sachet taco-spice, which as I understand though can also be made from scratch.

One taco dinner ago, we also had chips with guacamole.

We also started making guacamole, because if you've ever seen the bottled ready-to-eat guacamole here, you wouldn't want to buy them either! I also purée tomatoes onions, salt, pepper, and lemon juice for this one, combine it with about 2 small avocados (which you mash to a pulp with a fork), and decorate it with finely chopped tomatoes and the optional cilantro.

This reminds me... we're out of taco shells.


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