What’s life like in the Taco John’s Test Kitchen? Bold, busy and never boring. Here in Cheyenne, WY, we’re always whipping up what’s new in Mexican. My name is Bob Karisny, and I’m Taco John’s Corporate Chef. I spend my day researching the latest flavor trends, traveling to find new menu ideas and, of course, eating. 
On this website, I’ll be sharing notes from our Taco John’s Test Kitchen, along with my passion for Mexican cuisine. You’ll also hear from Sissy and Carl, my partners in creating – and eating – great food. 
Whether in the U.S. or Mexico, we’re always searching for new flavor ideas and opportunities to learn from the best in Mexican cuisine. Along with these experiences, we’ll also share menu ideas in development and great recipes you can make at home. So tie your apron and get ready to digest some secrets from the Test Kitchen. We hope you came hungry!

Sep 25, 2013
September 25, 2013 by BOB KARISNY

This is the rainy season here in Mexico. It's not a problem – we just make sure to bring a rain coat or umbrella wherever we go. But it does bring about some special foods you can only get this time of the year.

The first food is Tamales with Purslane. Purslane is a succulent herb that thrives well, especially in the wet time of the year. I guarantee many of you have seen it in your own gardens just thinking it’s a weed, but it is very good. Chef Ricardo Munoz made tamales with it yesterday to celebrate its abundance this time of the year. He also shared how tamales are party food made mostly for special occasions, and the lore around them supports this. For instance, you see in the picture a bunch of corn husks tied around the handle of the tamalera (the pot for cooking the tamales). Each of those represents a wish from each person in the class. The tradition is to make a wish then tie the husk on the handle. And since tamales are party food, they need music…so in the bottom of the tamalera is water but also a few coins. As the tamales cook, the coins dance in the bottom of the pot and make music for the tamales to party while they cook.

Another thing the rain brings is the abundance of, well, "different" things to eat. We had an excellent lunch featuring something seasonal and special – bugs. Not the ones that bite you, but the ones you bite. In the pictures you see fried worms and ant larva, which like so many things here happen to be eaten as a taco. I won't go into all of the sensory qualities of these delicacies, but they were interesting and not as different as I would have expected. And for breakfast today, we had some corn fungus. Long story short, these ingredients were interesting but not ready for prime time. You won't see them on the Taco John's menu anytime soon.

Well, off to class! Today we're learning from Chef Rick Bayless and Jair Tellez, a great local Mexico City chef.



Filed under: Food