|Mantel decor at Reba and Pancho's|
First we gathered in the kitchen where we all washed up and donned clean cooking aprons. Our chef (nicknamed Nacho for short), along with his wife Reba, started the class by explaining the history of the Cinco de Mayo holiday. Apparently it was an unlikely victory that day in the Mexican state of Puebla in which the Mexicans held off the French. Nacho grew up in Puebla before moving to the United States, so he had firsthand knowledge of how Cinco de Mayo is typically celebrated in his hometown.
A major component of any Mexican celebration is tequila, of course. Nacho explained how he selects his tequila and how various tequilas are different.
Throughout the class, Nacho showed us how to make three common Mexican beverages and an appetizer.
The first beverage was a rice, sugar, and ice concoction, tasting somewhat like a rice pudding smoothie.
Of course, Nacho offered to kick it up with a bit of tequila, if desired.
The second juice was made on a base of fresh pineapple. Nacho showed us how to shop for a pineapple that is ready for use. The color should be mostly golden on the outside and it should have a strong pineapple fragrance.
The second beverage recipe included fresh pineapple and freshly squeezed lime juice.
Nacho recommends adding a pinch of salt just for good measure.
The third drink was similar to a fruit tea, and then next it was time for the hands on (or hands in) portion of the class. Nacho taught us how to make simple quesadillas. In his country, if one doesn't want to make homemade tortillas, there are plenty of vendors that come through the towns selling them every day.
Too much tequila?
After Nacho fried up our quesadillas, we chowed down
and used them to soak up that excess tequila, then took seats to be served three more courses to our dinner.
First we were brought a cold tuna soup. It wasn't a selection I would have normally made, but it was quite tasty.
Dessert was a flan.
Good company, delicious cuisine, and new information to challenge the mind.
All in all, it was a good evening.