Dos Enchiladas, Por Favor

Platillo de las Enchiladas

Unlike Japanese or Chinese food, Mexican cuisine is seriously underrepresented in this part of the world.  For most Filipinos, exposure to Mexican food has consisted of cheese-drenched nachos from a food-court cart, ketchup-sodden tacos at school cafeterias, and Tex-Mex viands at Taco Bell.

I used to get proper Mexican food from a little place called Taqueria Chilanga at the old Greenbelt Food Choices.  They used to serve up a serious platillo filled with tangy cilantro salsa, a good-sized tortilla, arroz con tomates, frijoles refritos, and a generous helping of one’s choice of meat: pollo con carbon, carnitas, or carne asada.  Alas, like many of my favorites in that area, it closed down when the mall was remodeled.

So, where does a hungry girl go in search of Mexican grub?  Well, seeing how Mexicali is no longer an option in my neck of the woods, a trip to Tia Maria’s was definitely in the cards.

While most people will opt for the usual round of nachos, tacos, and margaritas, I usually skip these and go for the more substantial numbers: burritos, soft tacos, anything off the grill, and – most definitely – enchiladas.

The word enchilada actually means ” filled / covered with chili” in Mexican Spanish and actually refers to the state of a person who has had one too many of the incendiary peppers with a meal.  In a culinary sense, it refers to tortillas rolled around a meat filling and smothered in a fiery sauce and sprinkled heavily with cheese.

Tia Maria’s enchiladas are true to form in that respect: slivers of grilled steak are tucked into two flour tortillas, drenched with chili sauce, and finished with melted cheese and a drizzle of cream.  These are served with a mound of rice cooked with tomatoes and spices and a smaller mound of shredded lettuce dressed with guacamole.  (Man, how I love that tangy, spicy avocado puree!)

These enchiladas aren’t the best I’ve eaten: the chili sauce is a bit on the sweet side and the meat can be tough at times.  But when you haven’t got much choice, even a plate like this can be quite satisfying.

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