Cooking Like A Mexican

Gorditas
BY: ALEJANDRA SARACHAGA

December 12 is one of the main holidays in Mexico, probably more important and more traditional for Mexicans than any other holiday of the year.

 On this day there are huge pilgrimages to the Basilica de Guadalupe, commonly known as La Villa de Guadalupe, or simply  La Villa. This place is undoubtedly the greatest religious center of Mexico. The shrine is visited by millions of pilgrims each year, but especially on December 12, the day of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Basilica of Santa Maria de Guadalupe, is a Catholic church sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Mary under her title of Guadalupe, located at the foot of Tepeyac Hill in Mexico City.

This is the most visited site in the world, second only to St. Peter 's Basilica in Rome. Annually about 20 million pilgrims visit the shrine, of which about nine million are in the days leading up to December 12, the day for the Virgin Mary of Guadalupe.

This place is not only a big church but a whole complex that includes: Three chapels, one cemetery, a museum, a research center, a convent with a temple included, and two main temples called the old Basilica and the new Basilica. There are also many gardens, and small Mexican traditional markets in which traditional food is served.

Everywhere around the world, any party usually has its own traditional dish to be consumed during the celebration; like your turkey on Thanksgiving, Pan de Muerto on the day of the dead in Mexico, or the Chiles en Nogada on the Mexican Independence day.

But, is there any special food to be eaten on Guadalupe’s day?

Generally this is closely related to the street foods that are sold at simple stalls in public places, like tacos and esquites corn, chicken mole, soups,  quesadillas, stews of all kinds, candies, coffee, and tepache

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But what I remember most outside of the place itself are the aromas of the “anafres” (small coal stoves, portable and very practical), where vendors sell appetizers made of wonders of all kinds. Mixed with this rustic fragrance is the smell of the cooking of corn cakes called gorditas,, that are sweet, soft and so easy to make.

 Although they take their name from the Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City that are widely sold in markets adjacent to the temple, these small pancake like affairs can be bought at many part of the country, most commonly at fairs and outside churches . They are extremely easy to make and only require a pan or a griddle for cooking, plus the ingredients are inexpensive. All this makes the candy sweet gorditas developed spontaneously perfect for any time you feel the craving for something very typical. You'll be surprised by how tasty they are - and so well received by young and old.

For around 24 pieces

Ingredients:

 1 cup of corn dough (corn flour to make tortillas, mixed with warm water in a proportion of one cup of corn flour and ½ cup of water and ¼ teaspoon of salt. Mix it until you have soft dough.)

 1 table spoon of margarine.

 1/2 cup brown sugar or white sugar or even icing sugar

 a pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

 3 tablespoons of warm water

 2 egg yolks

Preparation:

1. In a medium bowl and using a fork , combine the corn dough with the margarine, mixing until everything is perfectly integrated .

2. Add the sugar, salt and baking soda and mix well again.

3. In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks with water using a clean fork, until blended completely and everything looks of one color.

4. Add the egg yolks with the sugar and flour mixture, first with the fork and then with your hands until everything is well integrated and you have smooth and soft dough, if necessary, you can add a little more water to achieve a manageable mass.

5. with hands, form dough balls about the same size of a ping pong ball. (Keeping your hands wet, greatly facilitates the handling of the dough). Take a ball and socket with the fingers flatten until a disk about 3 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick.

6. Place a disc of dough on a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat and let it cook for about 2 or 3 minutes. When the sides begin to dry the piece plump and puffed a bit, turn it over so it cooks on the other side. Browned on both sides, remove from heat. Proceed in the same way to cook all dough pieces. (Once you learn the process you can cook several pieces at a time.)

7. If you plan on eating this gordita immediately, keep them warm in a basket lined with a towel while cooking the rest. Serve alone or with caramel, jam or a drizzle of condensed milk or maple syrup. They are good for breakfast or as a snack, accompanied by, milk, hot chocolate, etc.

If not consumed immediately, keep your corncakes into a container with a tight lid. They also can make a great present or detail to bring along or to give to your guests. Just take them, (about 6 or 8 together), wrapped in colored paper to give them a cheerful touch very typically Mexican.