Introducing our friend Eugenio, the founder of Slow Cooking Sauces, who we first met at a food show as vendor neighbors. He makes great Mexican sauces from scratch. We wanted to know more about his venture and his home country, Mexico, which inspired these delicious creations, so we asked him a few questions:
ABOKICHI: What is Slow Cooking Sauces? Why did you start it?
EUGENIO: Slow Cooking Sauces is a line of all-natural starters for slow cooking in crockpots and Dutch ovens. I was motivated by my desire to eat healthfully without having to spend a whole lot of time and effort in the kitchen. I was tired of buying meals instead of eating home-cooked food. I love cooking, but honestly don't always have the time to prepare my meals. In looking for healthier alternatives, I came up with Mexican Adobo sauce. Adobo is one of the mother sauces in Mexican cuisine, and can be used to make many easy dishes. So, I decided to make it available for other people who were in my shoes, with little time for cooking and a desire for healthy and homey food.
A: What is special about your products? How do you use them?
E: There are multiple options: it all depends on how much time you have to make a meal. The easiest way—which I love—is to simply put Mexican Adobo sauce and a protein in a crockpot and let time do its work. You can set the crockpot before going to bed or heading to work in the morning. Your choice: wake up to a delicious lunch to pack for work, or come home to a piping hot meal and incredible smell. There are other, more creative ways to use the sauces. The recipes are a bit more involved but the results are so freaking good! Start by searing a lamb leg (or any kind of non-lean meat) in a Dutch oven, then deglaze it with red wine, add Mexican Adobo and put in the oven at 300 C for 2½ hours or until the meat starts to fall off the bone. Di-vine! There are other ideas on how to use Mexican Adobo for barbecuing or in a stir-fry for vegetarian and meat meals. Visit Slow Cooking Sauces site: http://www.slowcookingsauces.com.
Did I mention that our sauces are gluten-free?Check out Eugenio's adobo sauce.
A: We heard you visited Mexico recently. Where were you? How was it?
E: I did! I was so lucky to return to Oaxaca City for another culinary expedition. Oaxaca's gastronomy is very rich and plays an important role in the local culture. In the short time I was there, I was able to catch three different gastronomic festivals focused on chocolate, baked goods, and artisan food. In Oaxaca, people have much higher standards for food as compared to other places I’ve been. No matter where you go, the food is going to be good, although of course some places are more exceptional than others. I also went further south to San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas. Coffee and food markets were the highlights there. I found all kinds of addictive coffee-based drinks incorporating traditional—and not so traditional—ingredients, such as cacao and rice. In my quest to try them all, one time I had so much coffee that I could not sleep. I asked myself, “was it worth it?” while in bed wide awake in the wee hours of the night. Honestly, I could not get past the image of the ice-cold creamy horchata latte I had earlier in the day. Food markets were amazing, from the more traditional ones hosting vendors who have been there for generations, to newer ones that support sustainable farmers. Producers and consumers come from nearby towns to sell their wares or buy supplies. The market is the ideal place to witness the diversity of indigenous groups and languages spoken in the region, most commonly Tzotzil or Tzeltal.
A: Coffee with rice?! OK, Mexicans are definitely creative with food and you've really got our attention. What is the most wonderful part of Mexico and its food?
E: The spiritual devotion to food and willingness to push the boundaries of what you can do with what you have. It is quite admirable how food artisans are so devoted to their products. They do one thing but they do it really well. For example this woman I met named Salomé who comes to the city twice a week to sell her flavored paper-thin crispy tortillas using cacao, chilies, and herbs in a wood oven. Outstanding! Or a baker who sells cornbread baked in reused sardine cans from her food cart. They both have mastered their technique and created unique products by employing resourcefulness and creativity.
A: The idea of baking in an empty sardine can is incredible. Thanks for inspiring us with tales of your travels. May we close by asking what is your favorite Abokichi product? How do you use it?
E: I love Okazu. I have no doubt that quesadillas and curry Okazu are meant to be together for eternity!
Ayden and Eugenio looking peacefully and relaxed in Hierve el agua (Oaxaca). This picture was taken after they recovered from ridding a bumpy ride on the back of a shabby little truck on the steep hills of the Mixe territory.