After another good round of detoxing this summer, I was slowly coming out into the world and sampling alcohol again. And carbs. One of the first memorable experiences after the successful 21-day detox of no caffeine, alcohol, or grains/bread of any kind (seriously weird how great that feels) involved stopping by a friend's house to sample something that sounded just too good to refuse: freshly-made salsa accompanied by a newly crafted cocktail she had created (infused vodka, cucumber, plus basil for healthy herbal freshness).
That sounded so good it got me out of bed after a nap, which had been required after some light holiday day drinking earlier in the day with the neighbors.
The spread that awaited me was pretty much how I could eat every day. Snacks. But gorgeous ones of textures and colors that I just don't have around my house everyday.
Not only was there salsa mexicana (upper right), but also a bowl of peanuts and pumpkin seeds fried with garlic and chiles de árbol (bottom left). I went to town on the peanuts and pumpkin seed combo pretty quickly.
And then there was that cocktail.
On my arrival she was in prep phase: chopping the lovely multi-colored tomatoes into the salsa, and then effortlessly but patiently chopping the onions into perfect tiny little squares. Someone was sent to the store for more chips. "Really...I did not mean to be such a bother...." as I eyed the bowl overflowing with big beautiful colors and could not wait to dig in.
I then exclaimed, as the bowl filled up with all that color: "Check that out. All the colors of the Mexican flag!" I am surprised she did not disown me as a friend right then (I have a masters in Latin American Studies after all). Right, she says: thus the name "Salsa Mexicana."
It was spicy. Really spicy. And I could not get enough of it.
All too soon, or maybe just in the nick of time, there was nothing left.
I did not feel too badly that my 21-day purification cleanse of no bread ended with a few chips. The chips were just the vehicle for scooping all that up.
I tried the same concoction chez moi a few days later. Disaster. None of that tangy fresh addictive spiciness. My problem, I would find out from the expert, was that I used some lame jalapenos. I should have used serranos. And I probably should have paid closer attention to getting the salt and lime juice proportions right. The recipe is easy. It is the execution of chopping just right, and adding everything in the right proportions, that can be tricky for the newbie. This is all you need after all:
freshly-squeezed lime juice
When I finally tried it again, victory was mine. And I had some pretty painful burning on the left hand from the serrano-chopping to prove it. (Be very careful with the serranos. Soaking the left hand in milk worked pretty well to cool the burn. And another reader recommended yogurt.)
Peanuts and pumpkin seeds fried in garlic with chiles ... for the next dinner party.