I’m delighted Mexican food is so widely available
When our family first arrived in the UK in the – we struggled to find and make Mexican food here. Living in California our street names, town names, and food was often Hispanic. So it was a real culture shock to have this influence removed from daily life. Our mother might make chilli with cornbread and beans – or put chilli con carne on top of a jacket potato. But we could not buy or make a proper corn tortillas. We had to wait until 1982, when ‘Old El Paso’ launched their products in Harrods. Later, on trips to America I would bring back suitcases of tortillas and freeze them – or have masa harina sent over in food parcels.
When we needed to satisfy our Mexican pangs we would take the family to the only two establishments I knew selling Mexican food in London at the time: Café Pacifico in Covent Garden and Chiquito in Leicester Square.
Café Pacifico’s interior was designed to resemble a Mexican cantina with stone floors, exposed wooden beams and rough stucco walls painted in ochre, accented with the deep red and green colours of the Mexican flag . It had a very exotic and exciting atmosphere and attracted young adults out for a good time. We would arrive early but soon the crowds would gather, the pitchers of Margaritas would start to flow and the music would get louder and louder. Much as we wanted to join in the fun – we began to feel awkward and conspicuous tending to our toddlers in the middle of a highly charged salsa party – so we would graciously slip out, leaving the revellers – and all that lovely Mexican food – behind…
These days I can thank the likes of Mexgrocer, and the Cool Chile Company delivering almost every imaginable Mexican ingredient to our door. Which now means the family can enjoy authentic Mexican food (and salsa music!) anytime – and in the comfort of our own dining room.