Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, yet for most of my life, I've been skipping the early morning meal - just need so much time to get myself in gear in the morning that muesli, toast and co don't go down very well mith me. When I lived in Mexico I loved breakfasts. Especially going out and enjoying a proper cooked desayuno. An egg dish, fresh orange juice, fresh fruit (papaya, mango, pineapple), and if you're earning your living doing manual work then it's not unusual to have some beef as well...
There are many different varieties of egg dishes - huevos rancheros (eggs sunny-side up plus tomato sauce on crispy tortilla), chilaquiles (stale corn tortillas converted into a delicious bake with sauce and cheese), huevos perdidos (eggs poached in a rich tomato sauce) and the following "a la mexicana" probably being the more common ones. What they have in common is that they are always served with tortillas and "frijoles refritos" - refried beans, mostly made of black beans, sprinkled with some cheese.
"A la mexicana" always means that there's some green, white and red involved, the colours which make up the Mexican flag. Don't worry, the eagle and snake which are also depicted on the "bandera" don't make it into many dishes!
Now, while you can find supposedly Mexican ingredients in most supermarkets, you'll have to make more of an effort than that. The guys from Ol' El Paso and the likes may know a lot about TexMex food, but if you've ever tasted the real Mexican thing, you won't go anywhere near them anymore. Believe me, what they sell as corn tortillas is the farthest from the original that it could be, and their refried beans have more in common with Heinz baked beans than the real frijoles! There are plenty of online stores where you can stock up on good Mexican produce, MexGrocer being one of them. I usually get my family to buy La Costeña from a very well stocked Mexican shop in Vienna, who in turn buy from a wholesaler in Barcelona. You can imagine that carrying all those cans from there to here means that they don't need a gym membership anymore! The only thing I can't get my hands on anymore are proper fresh tortillas, so I often end up using flour tortillas, which are widely available... and with tears in my eyes I swear that I'd do anything to get my hand on some proper corn tortillas. If you know a source here in the UK or anyone in Europe even who does next-day deliveries, please get in touch quick!
Huevos a la mexicana - Mexican scrambled eggs with frijoles
For the scrambled eggs:
2 shallots (chopped)
1 jalapeño (green) chilli (deseeded and chopped)
150 g crème fraîche
2 medium tomatoes (chopped)
1 handful coriander leaves (chopped)
2 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
For the frijoles:
3 shallots (chopped)
580 g tin of frijoles (Mexican black, refried beans)
70 g grated cheese (use mild cheeses like hard mozzarella, edam, gouda)
2 tbsp peanut or sunflower oil
8 spring onions (fried in a little oil)
8 tortillas (fresh maize tortillas obviously work best, but wheat tortillas are fine, too)
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a non-stick frying pan and sauté the shallots until starting to brown. Add the frijoles and 100 ml of water. Stir until well combined. Cook until you have a thick paste and the beans are warmed through. Sprinkle with the cheese when ready to serve.
For the eggs, sauté the shallots and chilli until soft, then add the tomatoes and egg mixture. Cook until set, then sprinkly with the coriander, if using. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the tortillas over a flame on your gas stove or in a non-stick pan and serve them hot with the eggs, beans and fried spring onions.