Good Food Blog
Pass the guacamolePosted at 11:25AM, 07 October 2008 by Jenni Muir - Food writer
Looking forward to the next instalment of The Restaurant? I'm enjoying the series, but last week's 'cold Mexican buffet' was so cringe-making I spent most of the show with my hoodie pulled down over my eyes.
Of course it wasn't fair that the oven at Ray White's restaurant wasn't working, and we donÃ¢ÂÂt know what was skipped over in the editing process, but the look of absolute horror on the faces of the Mexican guests was entirely deserved.
The look of absolute horror on the faces of the Mexican guests was entirely deserved
Chef Chris in particular seemed to make no effort to find out what sort of food he could or should be cooking. He might not have had any handy Mexican cookbooks on the shelf but there are plenty of recipes to be found on the internet - and a lot more than Doritos to be found in the supermarket. Did you get the impression he had no respect for customers either?
I'm no expert on Mexican food - I've only been to Mexico City, the Yucatan peninsula and New Mexico (which is actually in the US), but even in the touristy areas we visited it was apparent that what passes for Mexican food in Britain is usually pretty poor, so perhaps it's no wonder so many people are dismissive of it.
Ironically there is now a sizeable population of Mexicans working in London restaurant and hotel kitchens. The capital is also seeing a spate of new Mexican eateries such as Benito's Hat , the forthcoming Chilango and Santo's . For many years one of the best sources of authentic Mexican food in Britain has been Scotland's Lupe Pintos , which also sells online. I remember the first time I tried Doug Bell's fresh salsa and corn chips - it's a cliché but it really was a revelation.
This weekend we decided to have our own 'cold Mexican buffet' (sans sautéed carrots), armed with a pack of fresh corn tortillas from the Cool Chile Company , where they have a new machine that produces lovely soft white corn specimens. The maize they are using to make them is grown on a small organic farm in Oxfordshire.
"It is hardly surprising that good Mexican street food has not taken off in the UK when the only maize tortillas you could get were either hard shells or tasted of cardboard," says Cool Chile founder Dodie Miller.
She's absolutely right, but surely what also needs to change is the dismissive attitude of supposed foodies like the team at Ray White's. What about you? Have you eaten any good Mexican food in Britain?