Phoenix and Food

What a wonderful week-end I spent in Phoenix, Arizona. I have never been to that part of the country. It was quite a sight to see mountains bumping out of the earth and a landscape filled with sand and cacti. Coming from the midwest where we see lots of trees and acres of corn, hay, grass, and other vegetation, this created a totally different picture.

What kind of food do you think would be popular in the Southwest? Remember that Arizona borders Mexico, so you can imagine that there will be an influence of Mexican cooking. Perhaps dishes such as tacos, chili, salsa, and burritos come to mind when you think of Southwest foods.

Early Spanish cultures used tomatoes, several types of beans and chili peppers that grew in the area, avocados, and papayas, among others. With the European influence then came sheep, chickens, beef, rice, wheat, nuts, wines, oils, and spices.

The American Indians as well as the Mexicans combined the food, methods of cooking, and flavors to suit their own tastes. Now you will still find a wide variety of tortillas, tacos, rice, beans, potatoes, squash and onions.

What kind of food did the chef eat while visiting the Southwest? I had a wonderful steak with mushroom sauce and a colorful assortment of vegetables at one meal. Another time I had a shrimp salad served over crisp veggies. The nutty breads served with dipping herb oils were really good. At another meal I had manicotti, which is a large tube like pasta, stuffed with ricotta cheese. Very tasty!

I didn’t eat foods typical of the Southwest, did I?  As with most large cities, the range of different foods makes it hard to decide where to eat and what to eat.