Let me start this out by saying that Amores Perros is a dark movie. It is disturbing, weird, and very graphic because it delves into the world of dogfighting in Mexico City (amongst other stories), and that alone means that it will be difficult for any dog lover to watch. That said, it’s also a very thought-provoking movie: it’s significantly better than Babel because it feels much more authentic; you get the desperation, sorrow and anger that motivates these characters and pulsates throughout the film and it becomes a two-hour cinematic version of putting cigarettes out on your arm. OK, maybe not that severe, but the film is tough to watch given that it’s chock full of brutal realism. What can I say? Sometimes, all I want to watch is a morose film, and I must own to a strong curiosity in watching these modern films from Mexican directors that got everyone in a tizzy at the beginning of the aughts.
In all fairness, I wanted to get Y tu mamá también to celebrate Michael’s birthday but it’s horribly unavailable–my copy will hopefully be here before Labor day, so a horribly violent movie had to go in its stead. The fact that I spent 5 bucks on it justified the cost–we’d easily spend that on an On-Demand flick, and this way I can watch it again (hey, my Spanish isn’t going to get better on its own) and/or loan it out at will without that guilty feeling one can get for shelling out for a DVD.
It feels rather pedestrian to talk about the meal that we made prior to watching this film, because how can any meal match the anguish and the intensity of a film like Amores perros? As this is a food blog and not a film blog, however, onward I must march. We feasted on quesadillas much like we always do because they are easy and are more sumptuous vehicles for homemade salsa compared to chips, only this time I switched up the three-cheese mix to include queso blanco, queso quesadilla and an extra sharp Wisconsin cheddar to ostensibly add some bite to them. I must be honest here: using New York extra sharp cheddar would have been a more useful addition–it’s a little bolder.
The real stars of the evening however were the arbol chile salsa (I told quesadillas make great salsa-to-mouth transporters!) and the tequila-lime grilled skirt steak that we just ate with our fingers as folding the slices into tortillas took up far too much time. Both came from Antojitos, naturalmente–and yes there are days when I ask myself if this blog is basically a “blog-through” of Barcelona and Antojitos–and both were really, really simple. The instructions were so easy for the steak: marinated for 30 minutes in a mixture of tequila blanco, lime and garlic, throw onto a hot grill and cook each side for about two minutes. Doneness can be tested by pressing into the steak–if it doesn’t bounce back immediately it is still too rare. The cookbook suggests serving it alongside grilled scallions, which we did–but most of them ended up in our mouths before we sat down to eat. Oops.
That said, I urge you to try the salsa now while the tomatoes are at their peak–we deviated from the original recipe because Michael wanted another go at those delicious oven-roasted tomatoes he made on his birthday, so I used four of them for the salsa instead of cooking the tomatoes in the oil along with the onions and garlic.
Árbol Chile and Roasted Tomato Salsa
adapted from Antojitos
- 6 plum tomatoes roasted using this recipe, seeded and cored
- 1 onion coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 6 árbol chiles, stemmed (remove the seeds for less heat)
- 3/4 cup corn or peanut oil
- Kosher salt
Heat the oil over medium-low heat and add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for about 15 to twenty minutes or until soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, add another tablespoon of oil to a skillet and gently toast the árbol chiles for about 15 seconds or until they are fragrant; remove and let cool.
Once everything is cool enough to touch, add them all to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth (they say until the consistency of heavy cream), and then bring back to the saucepan, bring it to medium heat and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring until the salsa emulsifies. Season with salt to taste.
Let cool before serving it as a salsa de la mesa, or spoon directly over meat, poultry, or quesadillas. Be blown away by how easy this is.