Thursday, 13 March 2014

Chilli - My Flavour of Together Story #FlavourStories

Food is such an evocative thing.  A smell or a flavour has the power to transport you back in your mind to the time and the place where you tried something for the first time.  It can conjure up memories of school days, Sundays spent at your grandparents' house, romantic meals for two or holidays abroad.

This year McCormick, the parent company of the herb and spice brand Schwartz is celebrating its 125th anniversary.  To celebrate, they are asking people to share their flavour stories in their Flavour of Together programme.  For everyone who shares their food story on the site or on their Facebook page, McCormick will donate $1 to charity (up to $1.25 million).  Why not add your story and join in with the campaign to help raise those valuable funds?

For me, the flavour that holds the most wonderful memories is that of Mexican Cuisine.  The potent heat of the chillies, the smoky taste of paprika and the freshness of coriander leaves work effortlessly together to create the taste of Mexico.

Fajitas, enchiladas, five bean chilli and burritos are regulars in my kitchen repertoire and enjoyed by all the family.  The food is fun, lively and delicious.

My favourite and most memorable flavour story involving the taste of Mexico took place back in 1992 when Ian are I first began officially dating.  We were still at the stage where we were trying to impress each other and not wanting to let our guard slip too much.  We were in a bit of a hurry going out one evening, so we picked up a takeaway Mexican Chilli pizza which we planned on eating in the car park before going into the pub to meet friends. Our impromptu picnic was quite romantic as we sat close together in Ian's Morris Oxford's bench seats with the cardboard pizza box balanced on our touching knees.  We picked up the triangles of pizza oozing with cheese and topped with peppers and chillies with a spicy sauce.  Now, I love spicy food, but one taste of that pizza and my mouth was on fire.  Was someone at the pizza parlour playing a prank?  Did the pizza inadvertently get an extra handful of chillies?  Did someone spill the whole pot on our pizza?  Or were these bad boys just right off the Scoville scale with their potency?  I'll never know.  But then in the back of my mind, I thought maybe I was being over sensitive.  I didn't want to look lame in front of my new, cool boyfriend or seem ungrateful that the pizza he bought me was causing my eyelids to sweat, so I ploughed on, trying to look like the slices of pizza were not tasting as hot as the pits of Hell.

After a few more bites, my tongue began to go alarmingly numb. It started to spread into my face and I seriously started to think that paralysis was setting in.  By this point, I had to say something.  Glancing sideways I could see Ian with a similar facial expression to the one that was clearly etched on my face.  Our bulging, red rimmed eyes met and we both broke out into a knowing smirk.  Simultaneously we lolled out our numbed, chilli paralysed tongues out and licked at the condensation that had formed on the car windows in a desperate attempt to quench the burning fire in our mouths. We then ran into the pub and downed two pints of ice cold beer!  We still laugh when we remember the chilli pizza incident and it definitely was a defining moment in our relationship.  I just wish that Smartphones existed then, because that footage would have gone viral!! I wonder if that is why chilli and Mexican food has such a fond place in our hearts and has become our go-to celebration dinner on anniversaries.  Chilli is definitely our Flavour of Together!

These days, we tend to enjoy a slighter milder form of Mexican cookery.  But our fajitas pay homage to that day in the car and to the start of our more open, more honest and less guarded relationship!  It's a quick and easy recipe resulting in the perfect food for a fun family meal. (Plus it won't result in you having to lick condensation from a car window in order to quench the fire burning on your tongue.)

vegetarian recipe, Mexican food

Quorn Beef Fajita Recipe

3 onions sliced
4 oz mushrooms sliced
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon smoked papriki
1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 packet of Quorn beef pieces

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onions on a highish heat.
Add the mushrooms.
Add the garlic and continue to fry.
Add the spices and stir well.
Add the Quorn pieces and continue to cook until the mixture is sizzling hot.
Serve hot wrapped in a warmed tortilla wrap with grated cheese, salsa, salad and sour cream.

 “This post is an entry into the Foodies100/Schwartz Flavour of Together challenge.” 


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