Friday, November 21, 2008

History Lesson at Santa Fe School of Cooking

Within minutes after our lesson began at the Santa Fe School of Cooking, Rocky Durham said that, although many restaurants serve 'rolled' enchiladas, many traditional cooks actually layer enchilada ingredients to form a lasagna-style dish. He layered tortillas, chicken, cheese, and red or green sauce in cast iron pans before baking them briefly, and then served us small portions.

The first permanent residents of this area likely arrived 2,500 years ago and, when the Europeans came, they found crops that were exclusively indigenous to this continent, including beans, squash, tomatoes, potatoes and chiles. Native Americans also used corn and, Rocky said, "The corn tortilla is the world's oldest prepared food."

But possession of this crop was considered heretical to staunch Catholics because legend had it that gods from the sky gave corn to Native Americans - who therefore considered tending corn an act of creation - and this flew in the face of their religious teachings. Little did the Europeans know how intertwined Native American and Catholic beliefs and culinary traditions would later become.

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