Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Hot chocolate: a memory of Mexico.

Last time I was in Mexico, a housewife passed on to me the following deceptively simple recipe ....

That was never going to work. I've never been to Mexico*, but I kind of like the music, to quote a 1970s songwriter; but he was talking about Spain.

This is a deceptively simple recipe, but it works well if you like the intense heat of your chili hit softened by a smoky cocoa and cumin background, like a Gulf breeze rolling across the Yucatan peninsula.

Chili con carne.

Brown 500g of beef mince in a little oil. Remove. Dice an onion and saute in the same pan with a little more oil. Dice a red capsicum, crush a clove of garlic, chop one, two or three small hot chili(s) and add these to the softened onion. Cook a minute or two. Add a tablespoon of cumin powder, two teaspoons of coriander, and half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and cocoa powder. Stir to combine.

Add the cooked mince, two tablespoons of tomato paste and a cup of vegetable or beef stock or plain water. Stir and cook ten minutes. Add a drained can of red kidney beans. Cook another 20 minutes.


I haven't been to Mexico, but I remember something that happened there once.

It was a radio broadcast, one hot spring afternoon in October 1968. I was ten or eleven. I had walked a mile or so to Buckley Street for a haircut at Tony the barber's, near the corner of Fawkner Street. Tony was cutting a customer's hair so I sat in one of the waiting chairs and picked up a Man magazine from the stack. A radio on the shelf was playing Elenore or Delilah or possibly Mrs Robinson on 3UZ. It was the year of female names in song titles, the degree of formality not necessarily indicating the nature or the relationship between subject and artist. (In Delilah's case the relationship went very badly wrong.)

The song finished and John Vertigan announced a cross to Mexico for the Olympic 800 metre final. Tony had finished the last customer and I was in the chair now. The race started. Something about a Kenyan in the lead. A Ryan's bus roared past the barber shop, and the commentary was inaudible for a while. Tony kept snipping. Then the bell: one lap to go. The Kenyan in front. Two hundred metres. Then the commentator mentioned an Australian. Tony stopped mid-snip. The home straight. Ralph Doubell hit the front with metres to go, and won the gold medal. Tony finished my hair, and I paid him and left. Outside, another Ryan's bus was ploughing its way towards Essendon station. It was still a hot day, but the air felt cold on my shorn head.


claire said...

Top work as usual KH, love your writing. And I'm totally going to try this recipe.

Dr. Alice said...

I believe the Mexico Olympics was also noted for the record-breaking Fosbury Flop. The athlete in question set a new record for pole vaulting in the track competition.

And I love to make chili. I will have to try adding the cocoa next time; I have never done that.

kitchen hand said...

Dr. Alice, that pole vaulter, Bob Seagren, later visited Melbourne where I obtained his autograph at an Olympic Park international track meet in the summer of 1970.

kitchen hand said...

Thank you Claire.