Originally Posted by foodguy
sorry, this is an ignorant post. there is no conspicuous consumer like a rich mexican. they make piob look like a peasant. besides, mexico was a possession of the French until the middle of the 19th century (hey cinco de mayo!) and there is still a strong french influence on Mexican fine dining, particularly in the DF.
Originally Posted by otc
Thats why I like what Bayless does with Topolabampo (though I don't think I have been there since before Obama ran for president and named it his favorite restaurant, blowing up the reservation queue).
Its fancy mexican food the way I imagine a fancy restaurant in mexico city might prepare food. You've got a lot of the same flavors, ingredients, and combinations, but he's not trying to sell you a $30 burrito. There are no tacos or quesadillas on the menu (although he will sell you all the "Gourmet" Mexican you want at Frontera next door). Menu tends to be seafood heavy with a focus on fresh, seasonal items and the various sauces that are Bayless's specialty.
OK, perhaps I should amend to say that "Mexican food as most people (including myself) think of it is fundamentally simple comfort food". Certainly, one can make gourmet food using similar flavors--Rick Bayless and Bobby Flay are good examples of this (though I do think it is very hard). But that's not what we're talking about. Carnitas, tacos, etc, these are simple things that do not IMO benefit from being taken gourmet. I'm sure there are high-end Mexican dishes--the wealthy had to eat something--but that's not what most people think of when they think of Mexican.
Again, it's like fried chicken. Sure, you *could* gussy it up, and there's no reason not to try to make it the best it can be by ensuring moist meat, crisp but tender crust, etc. But it is fundamentally a simple comfort food, and trying to take it high end usually just ends up a confused mess. Certainly you can use the technique of frying in haute cuisine, and chicken as well... But the two together have connotations that are pretty hard to overcome in a gourmet manner.
Also, whether or not there are conspicuous consumers in Mexico now doesn't really have any bearing on whether or not the food is simple, comfort food.
Originally Posted by Piobaire
Oh, real question about the carnitas...blotting the fat. I was taught you almost do a confit to make carnitas by loading in some lard to let them simmer in.
Correct. The fat is integral. It will braise, and then basically fry as the water cooks off and it comes to temp. The crispy bits are the best part.
You can actually do a good approximation with a lot less lard (because who keeps pounds of lard around) by braising it in liquid and just a bit of fat, then draining the liquid and crisping on a sheet pan under the broiler. The Serious Eats version I talked about does this, and it's (IMO) a good bit easier than dealing with all that fat.