Madrid Fusión – Day One – Mexican Soups

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Ricardo Muñoz y Zurriega is known for his  Diccionario Enciclopedico De Gastronomia Mexicana, an IMG_0578
exhaustive, authoritative compendium of the cooking of all parts of Mexico. Unfortunately it is only available in Spanish and has been out of print for some time. The good news is that a new edition is set to be published soon. The bad news is that it will for the time being, remain only in Spanish. Muñoz is also a highly respected chef of classic Mexican cuisine with a restaurant, Oro y Azul located on the campus of the Cultural Center at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico, D.F.

I had the pleasure in 2006 of experiencing Chef Muñoz' knowledge and cooking during a trip to Mexico with Rick Bayless, Marilyn Tausend and the Culinary Institute of America. His knowledge and skills are prodigious as is his personality. He was also the first of the Mexican chefs (the featured country) to present at this year's Madrid Fusión.

The key points Muñoz made throughout his lecture and presentation were that Mexico contains an extremely wide variety of soups in its culinary lexicon, varying greatly by geography. A number of soups also possess strong religious connotations. In addition, the term "soup" is somewhat loose in Mexico. Most of us think of soups as being predominantly liquid. In Mexico they have such a thing as a "dry" soup, which is composed mostly of noodles like with an Italian pasta. In addition to the different styles of soup in different regions of Mexico, there are similar soups in different regions that are called different names depending on where they are from. For example a tripe soup cooked with guajillo chile, epazote, lime, onion and oregano is called "pancita" in the center of the country, "mondongo" in the southeast and "menudo" in the north.

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As a warm-up, Muñoz made a simple cream of avocado soup made with pureed avocado and water and embellished with some chopped tomato. He followed this by making one of the most widely known Mexican soups, the Central Mexican Sopa de Tortilla. Muñoz took guajillo chiles, deveined and seeded, and softened them in hot water before pureeing them with tomatoe, garlic and onion. This paste was fried then mixed with another puree made from tortillas and chicken stock. The soup is then served over fried tortilla strips, diced cheese and garnished with pasilla chile strips, avocado and crema (Mexican creme fraiche).

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