Tia Lencha’s Cocina: Nopales for gringos y pochos

Gwell, I am writing this blogue porque my son said that we went on the google because he was doing a reporte for school.

Y you know what happened when he typed “Mexican Chef”? He said a white guy from Oklahoma popped up first, like he was the most important chef in Mexico or something. So, he tole me I can make better tamales than this gringo with a white mustache and I tole him, yeah, I can.

My pobre son is a little pocho, so him and other pochitos out there have to learn how to make the real food from our homeland. None of that nouveau Latin cuisine shit. My comadre tole me I’m too Mexican for the Food Network. I tole her I don’t want to be on camera anygway cuz I hate my arms.

My blogue is not gonna be call “Spicy It Up” or “Super Delicioso” or nothing like that. There is no going to be no salsa music (whish is Cuban by the gway) playing in the background. Is just me, Tia Lencha, in my cocina with my apron and my son typing on his computer.

So my first receta is: How to Make Nopales: A How to Guide for Gringos and Pochos.

First, you buy the ingredients. Nopales are called cactus in English. If you don’t like the idea of eating cactus, go to Taco Hell.  Y not for nothing, but people have been eating nopales for 12,000 years, which is longer than they’ve been eating chimichangas, or hot dogs or whatever you mensos eat.

Fresh nopales are shaped like the bottom of a huarache and have espinas (or thorns for you pochos) on them. You will have to clean the espinas by taking a knife and slicing the top of the flesh of the nopal (away from you) as you hold the upper tip of the nopal with your other hand.

If you are too wimpy to clean the espinas yourself, you can probably find the nopales cleaned and sliced in baggies. But they are not as good that way. The warriors and kings of ancient Mexico wouldn’t buy no cut up nopales in baggies. But you do whatever you want.

After you clean the nopales, you slice them in strips or little squares. Then you heat a little oil in a pan, and put some garlic and onion and then you put the nopales in to cook. When they are raw, the nopales are a bright green.

Now here is where you have to pay attention to Tia Lencha.

You let the nopales cook WITHOUT STIRRING THEM. If I see you stirring the nopales, I’m going to give you a coco en la cabeza. So to translate for you gringos, when you get the urge to stir the nopales with a spatula, give yourself a smack on the head instead.

Even though I warned you using CAPITAL LETTERS, I know some menso is going to screw it up and stir the nopales and then they will get slimy and then the girlfriend is going to taste it and say “Eeewww! Is slimy!” or “I don’t like the texture” or somesing like that.

And no matter how much you tell her is a great source of additional dietary fiber and calcium in her diet, she will never try it again. And she will go to Taco Hell.

But if you listen to Tia Lencha, you let the nopales alone and they cook and they get a little dark, like the color of an olive. You put salt at the end, when they are cook, and then you eat.

You can serve it with beans and a tortilla or you can make a salad with the nopales after they cool a little bit.

So, now you know the secret of good nopales, the food that was a little too Mexican to make, until now in Tia Lencha’s kitchen.

Until next time, my pochos and pochas, when we make a food that is also a tongue twister: Capirotada for Caperucita Roja to take to a wolf dressed as her grandma.

— Celina Martinez

Nopales photo by hillaryandanna.
Editor’s note: This article by TIA LENCHA is reader-submitted goodness received via our SUBMIT! page. Thanks, pocha!  If you have a story or a cartoon or a video or a photo or a cool site you know we will love, please: SUBMIT!