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Pico de Gallo

I love Mexico. Our kids love the touristy Mexico or at least a couple of them do - the younger ones we took to Mazatlan and that was enjoyable, the older ones were in Tijuana as a side excursion when we were in San Diego, and for some inexplicable reason they did not care for that part of Mexico - At all! The dirty streets. The hookers. The panhandlers. The smell of nastiness wafting through the streets was off-putting for them and they wanted to leave the moment we got there, so, alas, they did not get a real taste of Mexico...

We have traveled around Mexico a little bit and for me Mexico City and Guadalajara are my favourites, with Mexico City being number 1. What a place! The people are awesome, the city chaotic, the traffic insane, the size of it is just mind boggling, and the food. Oh my! The food! While there isn't a culturally enlightening show to be found like the donkey show that Tijuana has, there are pyramids, museums and markets close by, and those were awe inspiring to say the least. But the food! Did I mention the food?

We were in Mexico City for a few days a number of years ago and enjoyed every second of our time there.  Staying on the Paseo de la Reforma, close to the Zona Rosa, a great restaurant and entertainment area, we were entertained, well fed and watered with foods of all types, from Asian, South American, to regional fare, all food types seem to be covered, and with the availability of fresh produce for most of the year, vegetables are in abundance on most plates along with tortillas - fresh corn tortillas! But I digress.

I love a fresh made corn tortilla and sadly in Prince George there are none to be had.  I import some from Edmonton's Mexico Lindo or Don Antonio if I happen to be in Edmonton with a travel cooler in my trunk, and their fresh made corn tortillas are equal to any you will find anywhere in Mexico - Period.. With tortillas from either supplier a meal fit for your best friends and family can be prepared easily.  I also have a tortilla press and masa in the pantry to make my own tortillas if I am feeling exceedingly ambitious as well. To accompany the tortilla one needs some pico de gallo to make it perfect however and I am here to assist you with that. Keep reading...

Pico de gallo is a fresh raw tomato and garlic accompaniment, similar to salsa which is the cooked version I believe, and the variation of it is endless.  Every restaurant chef and family cook will prepared their own version of it and claim it to be the only authentic version worth trying. I like all the versions generally.

I like onions but I don't like them in big raw chunks, likewise garlic, if raw, I like I them minced. When making my version of pico de gallo I sometimes use a food processor if making a very large batch, and pulse the ingredients to a medium-fine consistency, like a relish, and that allows me to enjoy it without gagging on a large piece of onion, however I most often use a knife to prepare the ingredients. A knife prepared presentation is very traditional and rustic so if you have the time go that way.  If you don't have the time then the mechanical assist is okay too.

Many opinionated foodies will tell you that using a food processor is the wrong way to make it, to them I say, "#&*+@*$". I had a great finely minced pico de gallo at a taqueria (taco shop) in Mexico City that was almost a duplicate of mine, so I suppose, my version is an acceptable version as well.

Pico de gallo is best served at room temperature so I take it out of the fridge an hour before it is time to eat, but I have also been known to take the bowl out of the fridge and snarf a bunch down without waiting. It is your choice as to what temperature you want to serve it at. 

Pico De Gallo

12 large Roma tomatoes (about 3 lbs), core removed (you can use beefsteak or other types as well)

2 - 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced fine (you choose the garlic intensity you prefer)
1 large onion

1- 3 jalapeno peppers (I like it hot and use 2-3 depending on how hot they are)

1 large bunch cilantro, washed and drained, stems removed

2 limes, squeezed, giving up about  1/4 cup juice and a confession

1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Finely mince the jalapeno and garlic, place into 3 quart glass or non reactive (stainless steel) metal bowl.

Dice tomatoes,  pour into bowl with the peppers.

Dice onion, pour into the bowl.

Finely mince the cilantro, pour into bowl.

Add half of the lime juice, salt and pepper and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients. Taste and add more lime juice if desired as well as salt or pepper. I find 1 tsp salt works for me but I don't eat a lot of salt, so do whatever you want, it's your pico de gallo after all.

Serve with chips, crackers or whatever turns your crank. Use it to finish off a nice pork carnitas taco...

I use leftover pico de gallo as a flavouring for marinade with the addition of some cumin and orange juice for chicken or red wine and cumin for beef.  It also adds a great flavour to beef, or chicken stock based soups. That is of course if there is any leftover.


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