Tacos al Pastor in Mexico City

I took a delicious cooking class in CDMX! I found it on AirBNB and even though it was quite pricy, it also had a zillion 5-star reviews and great pictures.

A multi-lingual chef, a feisty Taiwanese gal, her Redheaded American husband and Me, limping from yesterday’s fall made up our class that day.

We got acquainted and started our class at the local market with chicharrón (fried pork with skin, fat and meat) and dried shrimp and all types of peppers. Then headed to the veggie section with tomatoes and onions and avocados piled high and smelling like herbs. The fruit isle smelled amazing – mangoes, apples and all sorts of things I didn’t recognize.

Very family place with lots of small children nibbling on freshly baked breads and salty nuts.

Back to Chef Raja’s kitchen/backyard. His father was from Italy, his mother from France, he grew up in Egypt, studied in Mexico (where he met his wife) and visited the States many times. He spoke 5 languages.

We – me and another couple that was also taking part in the class – put on our aprons and chef hats and mixed the adobo sauce for the pork in the tacos al pastor. It looked sooooo good and had pineapple sauce and two kinds of dried peppers in it. Yummyyyyyy. Not spicy, just lots of spices.

The spicy came from the salsa on top of it, which was full of Serrano peppers, garlic and habanero peppers – and onions and tomatillos.

That was the green sauce. The red sauce had more savory peppers and garlic and black-roasted onions (Aka onions roasted until they’re nearly charred…delicious haha). Not spicy really, maybe a spicy pepper added on top but I can’t remember this one being too intense. In Mexico, most of the spicy peppers used in salsas are green instead of red.

We piled the meat on a stick in order to mimic a kabab stand turn-style roasted meat display, and stuck the stick into a giant piece of carved pineapple. We brushed the adobo sauce on with a paintbrush as it dripped off the edges, catching it with the edges of our brush as not to waste the red-gold.

Then, into the oven for 1.5hrs while we made the two salsas on the stove, the guacamole from fresh avocados, peppers, onions, tomatoes and limes, and the tortillas from scratch.

The couple in the class – the wife Agatha (who got her English name from Agetha Christie books, which she loves) from Taiwan and her redheaded hubby, Andrew from the States – and I practiced sautéing the veggies to the right blackness. Every time we’d stop, Chef Raja would chant, More! MORE!

“Color is flavor. Everything charred is delicious.” 🤣

The tortillas were made from corn, the traditional kind, so they weren’t sticky or chewy, but had more of an earthy flavor and crumbly texture. We practiced making tiny balls with the dough, smooshing them with the tortilla maker, and rolling them onto the steaming hot grill. Sometimes it was more like slapping, but we tried to be gentile.

The guac was amazingggg. The secret? Lots of fresh lime juice. It enhances the salt and makes it extra tangy.

When the pork/adobo sauce/pineapple finally emerged from the oven – all browned and marinated – it smelled like heaven and was falling off the stick haha. We took our knives, sawing little pieces of meat into our tortillas and adding chopped pineapples, onions, cilantro and salsas on top.

De. Li. Ci. Ous.

We ate together as a family and his wife told us stories of their beautiful golden retriever doggie that was legit kidnapped from their front yard, pulled into a car as it sped away. They both had such sullen faces talking about this tragic day. A police report was filed, but they still don’t know where he is. Now they have a big German Shepherd, a feisty boy, who is much more atubborn and harder to pull anywhere or get to do anything that he doesn’t want to do. “He’s the boss. We just live here.” 🤣

A truck drove by on the other side of their courtyard, with someone shouting something into a megaphone. I asked what they were advertising. Chef Raja said they were asking to buy things, sort of like a drive-by garage sale, but they were the buyers. He jokingly asked if we had anything to sell. Agetha pointed to her husband with her eyebrow mischievously raised and a half smile. We all laughed.

Finally the day came to a close. We stuffed bellies, good stories and promises of another visit, we made our way to the courtyard door – a process that took another 15 mins – and bid our farewells.

We all told Chef Raja that he should open a restaurant, it was such a unique experience!

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