Last November we hosted a Day of the Dead Meso dinner featuring Nuria Montiel, a guest artist based in Mexico City and our new hero. Nuria presented a Chicago twist on her family’s cochinita pibil recipe, inspired by a field trip to Devon Avenue’s “Desi Corridor.”
Spicy marinated pork wrapped in banana leaves and steamed in its own juices, the cochinita is traditionally buried in the ground for slow cooking. We recreated the dish in a wok on our Hyde Park stove. We added Andhra-style lime pickle and ginger to the marinade, and served the final dish with a chutney made of pomegranate seeds and pickled red onions.
Making this dish with Nuria was a powerful experience. She generously shared her memories with us, along with her artwork and joyful energy. She also spoke about the missing students from Iguala, who had recently been kidnapped and murdered, with their remains burned.
It’s strange how preparing food with another person can conjure so many emotions. Cooking this meal with Nuria and sharing it with friends and family gave us the chance to celebrate and equally to mourn.