The House of Un-Mexican Activities: Banana/Cheese Quesadillas


How do you like your quesadillas? Do you make them like the originals: corn tortillas, folded over and griddled, or do you have them more Tex-Mex style, usually flour tortillas, not folded over. My view is that they are both fine. Food knows no borders, as people migrate so does the way the food is presented. We adapt to our environment, we connect with new people and those people incorporate new cuisine into their own lexicon.

The other day I had a mighty fine stab at making a Yucatan dish called ‘Pollo en Escabeche‘. It turned out pretty damn well. Although the Anaheim chiles recommended are not to be found in London– a Turkish supermarket stocked something similar. So now does that make it Turk-Mex? This dish also calls for Seville oranges, but you can’t get them here right now. So, the substitution is grapefruits, limes and regular oranges, which I found to be a delightful citric blend. Of course it is different from the original recipe, but in some ways it leads the flavours in a new direction. Which should not be discounted in the hunt for a good tasting meal. There are times to go balls out authentic and there are times to see which way the wind blows. Do things on a whim, vibe off one dish and make another.

A while back I attempted making a suggested flavour combination from the outstanding book ‘The Flavour Thesaurus‘ by Niki Segnit. She suggests pairing comté cheese with bananas on white bread with espelette peppers(originally suggested by the Comté cheese association)– the cheese is grilled until melted. The banana in this case is supposed to bring out the cheese’s full arsenal of flavours.

With a few spare tortillas kicking about from the pollo en escabeche escapade the other day, I decided to create the quesadilla variant. Quesadillas have that lovely crunch appeal. The crunch of a heat stiffened corn tortilla and the bite through of entangling melted cheese. Lately I’ve been whacking up the skillet to a smokey high heat before giving my pressed masa the kiss of life. This has really intensified the flavour of the tortilla; adding burnt blistered hits to anything lucky enough to be trapped inside. There is nothing not to love in this banana/cheese meltdown. For the chile element, I incorporated my homemade pickled chipotles. They have a tangy, smokey flavour arc and are so addictive I have to try  not put them in everything.

In a quote from the Comté cheese association as written in the ‘Flavour Thesaurus‘, these are some of the flavour notes: ‘walnut, hazelnut, chestnut, grilled almond, melted butter and spice flavours softened by hints of matured cream or citrus fruits’. The banana is supposed to guide you through the flavour maze and make sure you mouth is filled with a multitude of tasteful happenings. I wouldn’t say it worked for sure, but in a more superficial manner it was a success: the texture, the acidic kinship shared by both ingredients, and it could be considered to have a buttery constitution.

But what in the hell do I know; I just had a peanut M&M with a slice of Comté and it was awesome.
Enjoy your food people –“G.N.”

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Categories: Dishes, Mexicana

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