Tacos may very well be the perfect food, but let's face it, the standard Meximerican fare can get a bit stale after a while. Taco the Town is here to highlight some of the more unusual Mexican finds in the Valley.
¿Como se dice?: In Mexico, the holiday festivities don't end on December 26th. Instead, count down the 12 Days of Christmas (and you thought the carols were over!) from Xmas Day and you'll end on January 6th, also referred to as Kings' Day or Epiphany. Here in the states, Epiphany kicks off the well known Lousiana tradition of Carnival. And the roscón de reyes is the Mexican version of the colorful kings' cake of Fat Tuesday fame. Eggy, sweet, and glazed with colorful candied fruits to represent jewels on a crown.
Just like its New Orleans' cousin, kings' cake, somewhere in the roscón de reyes is a tiny ceramic baby (representing lil Jesus) or king figure. Sometimes cheaters shove a plastic baby in the ring after baking too. There are many explanations for what the baked trinket means, but generally the recipient is blessed with good health, and has to provide the tamales for the Candlemas celebration on February 2nd. (Or buy the roscon next year!)
Whether you celebrate Día de Reyes, or just really dig frankincense and myrrh, pick up a colorful roscón de reyes from your local panaderia. It's like a fruitcake, but with way more dignity.
(read on for the sweet details of La Tolteca's roscon de reyes and for a recipe to make your own kings' ring)
El Sabor: La Tolteca's roscón de reyes is an oval-shaped ring of very light, eggy dough with just a hint of sweetness. The tender pastry ring is then topped with mounds of sugar paste at intervals and decorated with dried candied fruits like pineapple rings, marischino cherries, fig bits, and citrus zest.
La Comida: Kings' Day in Mexico is a celebration of the day when the three Kings (or Wise Men or Magi, seen in many a nativity scene) arrived bearing gifts for the baby Jesus. On January 5th, Kings' Day Eve, Mexican children polish their little shoes and place them outside the front door to be filled with tiny treats by the three Magi! They also leave out vittles for the Wise Men and their animals to nibble, because traveling 'round the world is a surefire way to build up an appetite. In addition to the gifting, roscón de reyes is traditionally eaten on Kings' Day or the night prior.
Roscón de reyes is more difficult to find than you may think, so make sure to call your local panaderia (or the El Super, Ranch Pro Market, or Food City) to make sure they're baking them for Día de Reyes and place your order. La Tolteca is baking roscón de reyes, but you need to call ahead to place your order. A small (read: pretty substantial) roscón will cost you $20, while the large (read: fit for a pretty big family) will cost you about $28.
Bring a bit of México to your kitchen: If you have some time on your hands, or are trying to embrace a more homemade New Year, try making roscón de reyes at home. Don't forget the trinket in the bread, and serve your fresh roscón with Mexican hot chocolate or atole.
Know of any Mexican gems in the Valley? Reveal your family secrets in the comment section.