"Mexican food is like, the freaking Holy Grail for you guys" an annoyed Brit recently sniffed at a group of Americans discussing, for the umpteenth time, where you can get decent Mexican food in London.
I had to laugh at the accurateness of her caricaturization. It's true. The topic of Mexican food - fresh, tex, and authentic - and how there isn't any in London is discussed ad nauseam by US expats in the UK. Blame it on our former proximity to Mexico. Apparently native New Zealanders have a comparable complaint about the lack of good Thai in the UK - but while the passive Kiwis rarely pipe up about their unquenchable yen for their preferred ethnic cuisine - Americans go on and on and on - and rather loudly.
As a person who consumes chips and salsa rather than saltines when my stomach is unsettled, I'm one of them. Where are the black beans? The decent tortilla chips? The taco shells? The rainbow of salsas? *Sometimes* a grocery store will stock a rather pathetic range of Old El Paso products - but it's the type of thing you have to grab and horde when you see it. Yes, there is a definitely a problem with securing Mexican foodstuff in the UK.
I recently ventured to Tesco in search of the one brand of picante sauce that they occasionally carry and discovered that, not only was it NOT on the shelf (running out of products is just standard in UK grocery stores... onions, milk, broccoli, M&M's, water - all that and more has been unavailable at one time or another) BUT the price had also been hiked to exorbitant ridiculousness. Seeing this, I said, "Enough is enough!"
I went straight home and looked up recipes for picante sauce. What you see is my first attempt. Decent - not fantastic. I think I need to try a recipe with more vinegar. But I'll continue tweaking and will let you know when I've come up with something that I deem "publishable." Given that I go through about a jar of salsa a week, it shouldn't take too terribly long before I've conjured up something that could be in league with the elusive holy chalice.