Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It's Pronounced "Kwes-uh-dill-uh"

Remember when I was trying to think of something American to cook for my flatmates? Well, I found it. Of course, the “American” thing is hardly American, but is actually Mexican food.
It started when the NY Times ran an article on tacos, including recipes for foods I have seriously been craving like shredded chicken and carne asada. The shredded chicken was pretty easy, so I cooked tacos for dinner one night. My flatmates were duly impressed, although I have to say the salsa was pretty lacking because I completely forgot that cilantro is called coriander in New Zealand. But tacos weren’t that exciting because tacos weren’t new to my flatmates (or at least that’s what they said—I’m not sure if you can say you’ve had a taco if you are surprised that chicken can be used as a filling).

There were still tortillas left over so the next time it was my turn to cook, so the obvious solution was to make one of my all-time favourite foods: quesadillas. When I planned the menu, it never occurred to me that it might qualify as an exotic meal—who has never eaten a quesadilla? But I was completely shocked and horrified when one of my flatmates looked at the stack of cheesy triangles and asked “How do I eat this?”

My first reaction was sadness. I just felt so horrible for these poor people who had grown up never knowing the joys of a quesadilla. They provide the ultimate combination of deliciousness, simplicity, and variability. With so many cheeses, vegetables, meats, and toppings to choose from, you can pretty much never go wrong. Quesadillas pretty much qualify as a staple food in my life. Just ask my mom, who cooked them for me for 18+ years and then bought me a quesadilla maker for Christmas when I moved out. Or ask anyone who has ever lived with me and can testify to the fact that I regularly supplement use of said quesadilla maker with regular trips to Bandito’s, Taco Bell, Dominick’s, etc.

So you can see why I was so pained that not only had my flatmates never eaten quesadillas, they have never even heard of them. And it’s not like they call them something different here; the idea of melting cheese between two tortillas was completely new to them. Tragic. Fortunately, I have brought enlightenment to our flat, and the quesadillas were thoroughly enjoyed (even though they weren’t really that good—I had to cook them in the oven because I was using our one frying pan to cook the Mexican rice, so the tortillas got kind of dried out). If my flatmates take nothing else from our cultural exchange, I'm feel successful that I've taught them another use for melted cheese.


Jaya Lakshminarayanan said...

Didn't we always call it coriander growing up? I don't think I knew it was called cilantro until I was 12 or so and I saw it on a seed packet. And hang on--there's a quesadilla maker? As in not a frying pan? I guess I really am pretty low-tech.

Out here folks eat fish tacos--maybe that's worth a try since you're so near the ocean? And Taco Bell doesn't count as Mexican food.

(See, I learned how to use HTML tags!)

Roni said...

You might also want to try making 'jal-uh-pea-no' poppers for your flatmates, too. It might give you an opportunity to introduce Kiwis to Spanish pronunciation. :)
It might also help them enrich their love for feijoas (not 'fay-jo-uhs' as they may try to argue).

Adrian said...

Sounds good, I think a burrito would be next. Might be a bit on the heavy side though.

rminerath said...

Awww I lurv kwesadillas! We used to make them SO MUCH! Thank god you enlightened the roomates. Their children's children will thank you.