Fajita Bành Mì

On Wednesday, this happened:1-fajita-banh-mi
Danny showed off his grilling skills at our friend Vik’s rooftop, and we prepared our latest recipe:
Fajita Bánh Mì
3lbs Arrachera (skirt steak)
mayonnaise
fresh cilantro
fresh cabbage and radishes (optional)
10 bolillos
Steak Marinade:
2 cups olive oil3-fajita-banh-mi
6 limes
4 tbsp seasame oil
2 bushels of green onions/scallions
1 bushel of cilantro, chopped
1 head of garlic, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Pickled Carrots, Jicama, and Jalapeños:
1 lb thin-cut carrots and jicama
1/2 of a jalapeño, sliced thinly
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1/2 tbsp fennel
1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
3 star anise
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 1/4 cup water

To prepare the steak, combine all marinade ingredients in blender. Once blended, use marinade to cover steak in a large pan. Let sit for 24 hours.
Heat grill to highest setting. Grill for 6-8 minutes per side. Once done, cut against the grain into strips.
To prepare the pickled vegetables, blanch the carrots for 1 minute and rinse in cool water. Place them in a heat-proof jar with the crushed garlic cloves, jalapeños, fennel, peppercorns, and anise. Bring, water, vinegar sugar, and salt to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for two minutes.  Pour over the vegetables in the jar. Allow to cool and then cover and refrigerate. Turn jar upside-down once or twice a day. Pickles will be ready within two days.
To prepare the bánh mìn, use fresh bolillos and slice lengthwise. Cover generously with mayo, and add steak, pickled vegetables, and fresh cilantro, garnishing with cabbage and radishes to taste. Serves 10.
Thanks, as always, to our taste-testers and collaborators, many of whom brought fantastic food and recipes to our potluck event. We will post more soon. Photos by Christopher Sonny Martinez.
Advertisements

The Power of the Kitchen and the Community

I was struck when listening to a report on NPR about Soviet kitchens and their role in the fomentation of political and cultural exchange. Once  private kitchens were created, everyday people were less afraid to bring out their inner artist, writer, thinker, debater, and creator in the privacy of their homes. I loved the description of Russia as a taste: sourness. (Does Chicago have a “taste?”)

For us at Meso, it was great to hear about the exchange of ideas – however  clandestine – in a way that provided real community. We are really interested in how food and kitchens build community and provide for cultural exchange: whether it is at a small family meal, a large school potluck, or neighbors at a block party. Sometimes we take for granted how much food can bring people together and discuss differences and find commonalities.

Which reminded me of my own family and the connections to food-built communities. In the 1930s, my abuelo and other members of my family were involved in a movement in Texas to support workers, many of which were kitchen workers. Although there were labor unions, Latinos were largely kept out. The pictures below are from one of the conventions. Latino workers from places like Texas, Kansas, and Minnesota came together to find strength in their community, and work towards common goals. My abuelo, who worked in a cookie factory, was actually kicked out of the United States for a time because of his organizational efforts. I was really interested in the parallels of  my abuelo’s story, and the disadvantaged people of Soviet Russia, coming together into communities, taking actions big and small.

The role of labor in food industry is also something Meso wants to discuss more in the future. Stay tuned.

If you would like to learn more about the Mexican labor movement in the United States, we recommend Juan Gómez-Quiñones book Mexican American Labor, 1790-1990.

How has food played a role in your family or community? Please share.

Confederación de Camaras, January 1936 - Dallas, Texas

Confederación de Camaras, January 1936 – Dallas, Texas

Confederación de Camaras, January 1936 - Dallas, Texas

Confederación de Camaras, January 1936 – Dallas, Texas

Confederación de Camaras, January 1936 - Dallas, Texas

Confederación de Camaras, January 1936 – Dallas, Texas