Ask a Mexican on Tres Leches Cakes and Aztec History

This is going to sound absolutely and totally Caucasian. Lately, we have been trying to lighten the mood around the office with delicate bits of international confections. With all that's going on in the world, who needs one more worry? With that said, we are struck with yet another issue to ponder. Just the other day at my birthday celebration, I quite insisted on a lilac-toned bomb cake from a pricey bakery in Monterey. In addition to this, some of my Mexican sisters brought something called tres leches.

To try to begin to describe the subtle richness and the coolness upon the tongue, it left my bomb cake standing alone like a wallflower at a seventh-grade dance. To this end, we are still arguing what in the heck is the third leche in tres leches? We have cow as leche number uno, goat as leche number dos . . . However, the mind spins with the possibilities of the tres leches?
Rattled in Ryan Ranch

I'm glad you enjoyed pastel de tres leches, but unless your Mexi amigas bought a gourmet version, you're wrong on all counts. Tres leches cake is traditionally made with evaporated milk, condensed milk, and a layer of cream on top. Usually, Mexicans use goat milk to make cajeta, the mestizo cousin of caramel — but cajeta usually doesn't go on pastel de tres leches. You can drizzle that on the pastel de tres leches — wash it down with horchata, and you'll have the sweetest combo to come out of Mexico since Salma Hayek's breasts.

While trying to instill some history into my girlfriend, who is also Mexican (well, I was born acá, y ella, allá) I told her that maize was first harvested by Aztecs, whereas she states that it was the Mayans who kept la yunta andando for corn first. Could you please enlighten her by telling that she's wrong?
Mexican Light

Drop the Aztec love, cabrón! Everyone knows they were just a parasite empire that absorbed attributes from the many cultures and people that preceded them, from the Olmecs to Toltecs to Mayans to whoever the hell built Teotihuacán. And the fact is both of you are wrong. Trying to determine who domesticated corn is as impossible as finding a Mexican-owned truck without a sticker of a bull, their hometown, or stick figures depicting their family, but the great book America's First Cuisines notes scientists in 1964 found evidence of domestication and harvesting in the Tehuacan valley (around the states of Puebla and Oaxaca) dating back to 5,000 B.C. — more than 2,000 years before aliens built the pyramids in Egypt as guides or whatever the latest Coast to Coast A.M. explanation is. The domestication of maize (and the miracle that is nixtamalization, which makes masa possible) is Mexico's greatest gift to the world, greater even than Salma Hayek's boobs of glory.

Crazy news! You're favorite columna is being turned into a play! ¡Ask a Mexican! will get its first-ever reading this Friday at the prestigious Off-Broadway Atlantic Theater Company as part of their annual Latino Mixfest. A special gracias to my writing partner, Atlantic's artistic leadership associate Jaime Castaneda (a Tejano, but that's okay), for wanting to do this. For my Puebla York cabrones interested in attending the reading: it's free, but you must RSVP — more info at atlantictheater.org. For everyone else — start bugging your local theater company to stage the play come next year!

Good Mexican of the week! Since this is my annual food edición, a shout-out to all the original loncheros — those taco-truck pioneers across the country who fought the law and racist ordinances to ensure we can all enjoy a late-night taco. All you luxe lonchera folks slinging "gourmet" food: Pay respects to your elders when you park your trucks next to them at the commissary. Yes, gentle readers: roach coaches and "gourmet" food trucks spend their nights together. Imagine that!

 
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20 comments
fatimamadrigal66
fatimamadrigal66

I'm doing this project and we have to bring in something multicultural so since I'm mexican I wanted to bring tres leches, but I also have to write about it. I have to put the origin and significance of it. Can you please help me with that.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Where in Mexico is Nicky Diaz Santillan? She was deported right?

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Would someone please explain to me how we will decrease unemployment by granting amnesty to some or most of the 12,000,000 people who entered the United States by illegal means?

Mrroachsir
Mrroachsir

Hay Cabron...whats up? Playin it safe in your column for a change? Perhaps your Cabron masters called you out on the carpet on account of your papers many advertisers having something to say about incendiary (and anti-American) posts? Additionally while perusing your archives I came across a post claiming you "snuck into this country"? Your bio claims you were "born in California to a legal mother and an illegal father"? Well...whatzit gonna be? Or maybe since the only credibility you have is amongst the illegal population you claim to champion you needed to "ratchet it up a notch"? Nevertheless I'm sure your "non inflammatory" column will appease the dread "mainstream advertisers" who now appear to support this former radical left wing publication. Ahhh...the benefits of succumbing to Capitalism.

Mistalee
Mistalee

"The domestication of maize (and the miracle that is nixtamalization, which makes masa possible) is Mexico's greatest gift to the world, greater even than Salma Hayek's boobs of glory."

The exportation of corn to Europe and its subsequent development there as a food crop yielded one of the few significant pre-petroleum human population increases in the past thousand years. That underscores the tremendous contribution that corn (and also potatoes) made to human nutrition.

None of this is meant to diminish the glory of Selma Hayek's breasts, which are rightly objects of adoration (as is the rest of her.)

Stuart Pitt
Stuart Pitt

who is she???? more importantly...who cares?

Mistalee
Mistalee

Not what the column is about. You want to talk about this woman, go start your own paper and write your own column.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Have you tried pastel de tres leches? It's culinary brilliance. The three types of milk make it incredibly moist and rich without being too sweet.

Ronnie Rayguns
Ronnie Rayguns

It goes like this retard, those people who are working here without papers will become legitimate. Then the statistics will changed to reflect that fact that there are now 12 million jobs, which were not counted before because they were filled illegally by employers, that are filled, that previously couldn't be counted. Then the guvmint, cause that's how you retards pronounce it, will say, we just created 12 million new jobs but they are all filled because our newest citizens filled them first. And unemployed retards like you will, pull their few remaining hairs out (that is if you don't shave it, you 88er) because you will stop at the circle K for your latest crybaby session and say 'darn that affirmative action.' Simple as that.

Mistalee
Mistalee

Would you please explain to me how your question is relevant to a column about tres leches cake and the historical origins of corn?

Ronnie Rayguns
Ronnie Rayguns

^^ another fine example of a child that was left behind. ^^

Mistalee
Mistalee

This is his annual food column. Hence the apparent absence of controversy. If you actually read it instead of just showing up here to spew a bunch of retarded anti-immigrant crap, you would know this.

Mrroachsir
Mrroachsir

Yah but....the bitch won't answer my calls. But her Lawyers call and tell me not to call anymore.

Stuart Pitt
Stuart Pitt

not for nothin Braniac but...if you increase the population by 12 million and make them all employed immediately it literally does not do anything to lower unemployment.Perhaps the percentile lowers marginally but we ALL know that's smoke and mirrors. AND the current administration claims not only to "create new jobs" but also to "save jobs"? Ok...ad 12 million new employed citizens and we will also see "127 Billion saved jobs" (SIC).

Stuart Pitt
Stuart Pitt

the controversy is the author claiming to have "snuck in here" in order to have "creds" with the illegal population all the while claiming in his official bio to be born here. research his old columns. if yer too goddam lazy as i suspect you are i'll find it myself.

Stuart Pitt
Stuart Pitt

Well....."Mista" I would normally be inclined to agree with your disinterest....if this were a "Food" column, but it ain't. This is a column written by a supposed advocate of illegal alien rights (sic). His main goal is to promote Mexican culture and support an "open border" policy thereby promoting the "Reconquista (look it up). Now if someone is going to try to influence Me I prefer they have legitimate credentials (YOU apparently do not), otherwise they are nothing more than some wild-eyed idiot on a soapbox with a bullhorn. Now the Mexican claims in his website bio: "WHO IS THE MEXICAN?I'm Gustavo Arellano. I was born in Anaheim, California, to a tomato canner and an illegal immigrant." Yet in an earlier column he claims to have "been able to sneak in here (where?? Anaheim???)" due to a relative in the Border Patrol. OK sure..."Literary License"...right? Nonsense, it's like finding out MLK was really a Brooklyn Jew that fell asleep in the tanning bed, or maybe SUSAN B. ANTHONY was really a cross dressing man. The guy's phony as they come, making money off the "wet" backs of his compadres. He knows he can be as controversial as he wants because if ya call him on something he's only gotta call "Racist" to justify anything he has to say.

Mistalee
Mistalee

What I am is absolutely disinterested is your claimed controversy about Arellano's alleged immigration status.

Incredible, isn't it, the culinary impact corn has had on the world. Corn, now fed to livestock and broken down chemically into an array of ingredients such as modified food starch and high fructose corn syrup, finds its way into virtually everything we eat. Indeed, we Americans eat more corn now than the Maya ever did.

 
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