Tapas - Miro

Dinner in Spain is not served until after 9:30 pm but not to fear! “Tapas” – or Spanish appetizers are abundant throughout the evening hours to cover your hunger in a social setting that is both entertaining and delicious. “Tapar” in Spanish means “to cover” – one possible explanation for the word “tapas”. They used to be thought of as peanuts or trail mix but have evolved into so much more!  In fact there is a national contest consisting of the winners of regional contests throughout Spain each year to choose the best ones in the country.

A few observations- tapas are rarely served in homes and not something to get “to go” and then take home either.  They are bite sized and are eaten standing up- this strategically allows for mobility. It is typical in Spain to meet up with friends for tapas and it is easy to move around the room to converse with all of them or to meet new friends as you are not seated at a table.

Spain has some of the best chefs and restaurants in the world as well as the highest quality of ingredients.  For the same reasons, eating out has become expensive and can require reservations made well in advance for the most exclusive restaurants. Tapas, however, have made high cuisine affordable and accessible to everyone. Most restaurants will serve tapas without a need to wait for a table and you can turn them into your meal by ordering three or four.

Continue reading Tapas – The Art of the Appetizer

Date posted: January 23, 2014

Categories: Food and Culture Guest Post Julseth

Tortas Gigantes Jalisco

Eating our way down Nolensville Road

By David Julseth

We ate our way from one end of Nolensville Road to another. It was a “three-hour tour” and, yes, references were made to Gilligan’s Island, but the Meet-up Group “What the Pho” for ethnic food was expertly led by Rose Laycox and no rough weather or shipwreck were in sight!

What we had was a delicious variety of tacos, quesadillas, grilled chicken, and far too many other Mexican delicacies – served from trucks!  Rose had not only mapped out our excursion timing the stops for about 30 minutes each, but she had also checked out the Health Department Scores for each one and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that they were in the highest rankings.  (Side bar- you can easily check these scores for any restaurants in the state of Tennessee.)

We started on the south end of Nolensville near Tusculum Lanes Bowling Alley at Tortas Gigantes, Spanish for “Gigantic Sandwiches”… and they were!  You have your choice of “Torta Norteña” (breaded steak and white cheese from Chihuahua), “Torta Milanesa” (grilled steak, ham, and cheese), or for a breakfast sandwich, there is one with Mexican sausage, cheese, and scrambled eggs.

Any one of these would have filled me up and my first stop on the Taquería Truck Tour would have been my last had I not ordered strategically.  I ate one small “taco al pastor” served on two corn tortillas but I look forward to returning for my gigantic “torta” very soon.

Continue reading Taco Truck Tour

Date posted: July 26, 2013

Categories: Food and Culture Guest Post Julseth

Photo from TracyT

Nashville’s Gourmet Mexican Popsicles

By David Julseth

Once you have tried a gourmet Mexican “Paleta”, your idea of a popsicle will change forever.  These delicious desserts use fresh ingredients and therefore flavors will change according to the seasons. Start with chocolate or strawberry if you want to play it safe but don’t be intimidated by strange sounding flavors like Avocado, Tamarind, or Hibiscus – they are all delicious!

Continue reading Las Paletas

Date posted: May 29, 2013

Categories: Food and Culture Guest Post Julseth

Mole Poblano from avlxyz

We are delighted to have David Julseth, professor at Belmont University, as a guest writer for the Mesa Komal Blog!  Not only does he have a well-defined palate, but a passionate curiosity for culture and traditions as he looks through the lenses of food.

It’s not Mexican Independence Day – that is September 16th!  Contrary to the commercials that are ever-present this time of year, “Cinco de Mayo” or May 5th is really not such a big deal in Mexico. Mexico had gained its independence from Spain back in 1821 but was later  invaded and endured a short-lived occupation by France. On this day in 1862 in the region of Puebla, Mexico won a battle against the French but ended up losing the war. Since then there has been a yearly commemoration of this event that is even re-created in the state of Puebla but much less is done for this occasion in other parts of the country.

Continue reading Cinco de Mayo – what are we celebrating?

Date posted: May 1, 2013

Categories: Food and Culture Guest Post Julseth