Thursday, December 12, 2013


(Close enough. You try to find a specific EweToob video about chilaquiles.)

n. a Mexican dish of fried softened tortilla chips covered with salsa or mole and cheese and broiled

Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número uno:

The Spanish word "chilaquiles" comes from the Nahuatl word "chilāquilitl", which is a combined form from two separate Nahuatl words "chilātl" (meaning "chilli water") and "quilitl" (meaning "edible plant").

For anyone not having the pleasure of ever eating this dish, it is truly a virtual mosaic[1] of flavour. It is basically corn tortillas cut up (normally into triangles ~ if you were to cut the tortillas into quarters or eighths ~ or into strips) and sautéed in a pan with some oil to get them a bit crispy (some places will cheat and just use their own already fried corn tortilla chips instead, but I have yet to see anyone actually use Fritos®[2], Doritos®[3], or the like; these are auténticas cocinas mexicanas after all, not Campana del Taco®[4]). Then diced/chopped onions and bell peppers are added, and either a salsa (roja o verde) or mole is poured over the top and the whole mess is allowed to simmer for a bit. Then eggs are scrambled into it (or, sometimes, already scrambled eggs, fried eggs, or over-medium/-easy eggs are added after it has all cooked). This is then topped with some grated cheese (usually shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar, but crumbled queso fresco can also be used). The dish is usually served with a side of frijoles refritos y arroz.

As I have said many time before, this dish (like the Italian dessert Tiramisù) can be made slightly differently wherever you go. You can probably find twenty different versions just in La Misión alone.

My first breakfastary adventure with chilaquiles was at Chava's (see last 'blog-entry from August 8th, 2010) probably way back in 1990 or 1991. I had seen Chava's listed as one of the "Best Breakfasts in San Francisco" in the Bay Guardian and they mentioned the chilaquiles specifically. Never having had them before, I figured that if it could be made vegetarian, that was the dish I was going to try. (At most places that I have had chilaquiles, it was usually already a vegetarian dish; however, dead, decaying shredded poultry or swine flesh can also be added in some places, too.) Chava's chilaquiles was as good as expected; so much so, that I would then revisit Chava's several times a year thereafter. Because of which, Chava's was a Starter in my Breakfastary Rotation for many years.

Chilaquiles are not to be confused with a similar Tex-Mex dish called "Migas". There are some places in San Francisco that offer a dish they call migas, but those are usually just a variation of chilaquiles. The best I can figure is that migas will contain strips of tortillas instead of tortilla chips; however, it's just whatever you want to label them. I have been informed by un amigo mexicano that real migas to him is a dish made with day-old bread, which seems to be how the Spanish or Portuguese dish of the same name is made and not similar to chilaquiles at all. It is also usually a breakfast dish, but doesn't normally include any eggs in it.

Chilaquiles are usually served at breakfast or "Brunch", but I have even had them for dinner before a few times.

I am no fool and still consider Chava's version to be my touchstone[5] (piedra de toque) for this muy sabroso dish, Wild Bill.

1. Just to let you know, this does not have anything to do with that old Jewish guy that schlepped the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinus.

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número dos:

"Frito" simply means "fried" en español.

3. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer of the day, número tres:

"Doritos" comes from the Mexican-Spanish word "doradito" meaning "turned golden or crisp".

4. And don't even get me started on their stupid current slogan, "Live Más". Unless "Live" is Spanish for "Tastes Like Complete Crap", that saying makes no sense whatsoever.

5. "Why, thou sayest well. I do now remember a saying,
'The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man
knows himself to be a fool.'..."
As You Like It, Act V, Scene I

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