I may have mentioned this before, but one thing I really miss about the Midwest is Mexican, or "Mexican" food. Sure, Paris has great condiments but I don't like mayonnaise and as much as I enjoy good mustard, I don't really eat it by the spoonful.
That's why I miss going out to the Mexican restaurant in Urbana for chicken enchiladas. I love--no, adore--chicken enchiladas and there's only one thing that makes me more excited than a plate of them in front of me. And that thing is the bowl of salsa that arrives before the main course. I have a notorious sweet tooth, but I could eat fresh salsa all day long, with or without chips. Imagine my delight when in Palm Springs, I tasted one of my favorite salsas yet, made by my cousins. The recipe comes from their Mexican grandmother, and lucky for me, I got a copy of the recipe.
Now, there are probably a million debates about what makes salsa "authentic", but I don't really care about that. No, this salsa hits the spot for me. When I taste it, it's 1996 again. It's my birthday, and I'm in the only place I could imagine celebrating at: the Mexican restaurant with chicken enchiladas. My favorite part? Dipping chips into our first, then second, bowl of salsa with my parents while we wait for our food to arrive.
Salsa really is the best way to start a meal. I'll skip the mayo.
Note: I made a couple changes according to what I had on hand, in italics
2 cloves garlic (I used one)
6 jalapenos (I only had chopped jalapenos in a jar, so I used those and it turned out fine)
2 cans of chopped stewed tomatoes
1 fresh lime
1/2 bunch cilantro, washed
1/2 TS salt
Drain tomatoes and place in blender.
Cut and wash jalapenos--don't seed them--and mince garlic. Blend both ingredients in a food processor with salt and lime juice. Pour mixture into blender along with tomatoes, and blend until you reach desired consistency.
If you make the salsa a day ahead, it'll be even better: the flavors have time to blend together and the result is really amazing.