In Mexico, A Complex Cuisine For A Complex Country

By: Sarah LeTrent CNN
By: Sarah LeTrent CNN
Anthony Bourdain pays a neighborly visit to the United States

Anthony Bourdain pays a neighborly visit to the United States' "brother from another mother," the politically complex nation of Mexico, and finds an equally complex type of food.

(CNN) -- Anthony Bourdain pays a neighborly visit to the United States' "brother from another mother," the politically complex nation of Mexico, and finds an equally complex type of food.

"I think most American's view of Mexican food is like beans, fried tortilla, melted cheese and some chicken," Bourdain says.

In Oaxaca, Bourdain's palate is taken back to pre-Hispanic times, with labor-intensive moles and homemade masa. In Mexico City, he finds a new generation of chefs mixing those ancient Aztec traditions with the avant-garde. And in both places, there is many a shot of mezcal, Mexico's smoky, brash spirit of the agave plant.

Wash down the grit of the episode with an ice-cold michelada -- a Mexican beer cocktail - from Mexico City-born chef Pati Jinich.

Michelada

(Makes 1)

Recipe courtesy Pati Jinich, and reprinted with permission from "Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking."

Picture this: a frosty, ice-cold mug rimmed with tangy citrus and crunchy salt, filled with a mixture of beer and freshly squeezed lime juice. This is the michelada.

There are many versions: some, like the michelada especial, are over-the-top combos of salty, spicy and sour flavors. In any case, Mexico's dressed-up version of a beer will have you licking the last drops of salty lime juice off the rim of the frozen mug. You may never think of beer in the same way again.

Kosher or coarse sea salt

1 lime wedge

Ice cubes (optional)

2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 cold 12-ounce beer, preferably Mexican

For a michelada especial:

Dash of hot sauce, like Tabasco, Cholula, or Valentina or a combination

Dash of a salty sauce, like soy sauce, Worcestershire or Maggi

Pinch of kosher or coarse sea salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

1. Place a beer mug in the freezer for a couple of hours or until chilled.

2. Spread the salt on a small plate. Rub the rim of the mug with the lime wedge and dip the rim gently into the salt to coat. Place a couple of ice cubes, if using, in the mug.

3. Add the lime juice, then pour in the beer. Or, if making a michelada especial, add the optional ingredients to taste, along with the lime juice, to the chilled mug. Stir lightly, then pour in the beer.

*You can give the drink an extra kick by dipping the rim of the glass in chile powder or a chile powder seasoning, like Tajín.

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