Gralia: food is one of life´s biggest joys!
Cooking authentic Mexican food with Gralia.
Lots of flavors and colors, not too spicy.
WHO: Gralia, Mexican girl with a golden heart, an avid scuba diver
HER PLACES: Tepoztlan – a magical place close to her hometown; the seabed – silence, piece and a sense of eternity
HER PASSIONS: photography
HER nutrisophy: balanced diet, a bit of everything, not too greasy nor spicy. Many fruits.
Meeting Gralia was one of these coincidences when you think that it was meant to be.
After spending some time in Barcelona back in October, I got a new flat mate – an exchange student from Mexico with the strangest name and deepest eyes. Soon we were talking a lot, visiting museums and local food markets together. I introduced her my favorite cafés in Barcelona and there we sat for hours talking about freezing Estonian winters and black widow spiders in Mexico among other things. It was a start to a new friendship and hopefully some interesting collaboration projects are on the way!
Gralia was born in Cuernavaca, the capital of the state of Morelos, about 80 km south from Mexican City. She grew up with a two years younger brother and says that they feel like being twins. Happy family trips to Tepoztlan, a magical town near Cuernavaca, is one of her most cherished memories from these times. Family is very important for Gralia. As generation of her grandparents used to have more children than nowadays, the family including aunts, uncles and cousins from both sides is quite numerous. The eldest member of this tribe is her 95 years old great grandmother Lupita.
After studying communication sciences at the University La Salle, Gralia took the course of photography and worked in this field for some years. She is deeply passionate about images and how they reflect the world around us. Mostly she loves to take photographs of the city and people living in it – the relationship between humans and urban public space, specifically street art, is a topic of her Master thesis as well.
Gralia & Food
Gralia is coming from a place where eating cactus and roasted grosshoppers (chapulines) is the most normal thing ever.
Mexican kitchen is a mix of Spanish and local indigenous kitchens, containing lots of fruits and vegetables as well as corn and meat. Oftentimes juice of different fruits is used to give some extra taste to the dishes. The basic flavor combination is onion, tomato, garlic and chili pepper. However, Gralia is not so fond of the latter: “I´m one of these Mexicans who doesn´t like chili pepper and very spicy food so much.”
In the state of Morelos the most typical fruit is guava, Gralia also loves to eat nopal cactus and its fruit tuna. Pocole is a corn boiled with meat broth and eaten with lettuce, radish, chili pepper, onion, avocado, piece of fried pork and oregano.
If I ask Gralia to name her comfort food, she quickly responds: „Ice cream! Eating chocolate ice cream is like committing a sin…“ She also enjoys „nieves“, which is a refreshing Mexican water-based ice cream made with natural fruits and other fresh ingredients.
Gralia´s name is created by blending the first part of her grannies´ names together: Graciela + Julia = Gralia. These two women have influenced her relationship with food significantly and everything she knows about cooking, she has learned from them.
The brightest childhood memory about food for Gralia is the smell of a recently baked tortilla, which both of her grannies often prepared and still do. Granny Graciela´s trademark in the kitchen is a traditional mole while granny Julia is known for her Christmas dish of cod with pepper, bell pepper, tomato and olive oil. Every Sunday she invites the whole family to eat together and enjoy some family time – this is a tradition and nobody can be absent without a serious excuse.
„Sometimes I ask from my grannies how to prepare food… However, their recipes are always based on instincts,” says Gralia.
Living in Barcelona, Gralia likes to visit local food markets to see all the colours, feel the smells, and eat something new for her, like persimmon. When visiting Paris recently, she enjoyed a lot their crepes and macarons.
Her nutrisophy? Gralia´s diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, she is trying to avoid too much fat and eat a little bit of everything to have a healthy balanced diet. Greens of course – broccoli, spinach, lettuce… She loves fruits, especially grapes, but points out that plums and nance (also called golden spoon) are the only fruits she is not so keen on.
She likes cooking when she has time for it, and enjoys the process. Food has to be healthy, nourishing and smell good – just as she remembers it from her grandmother´s kitchens.
What did we cook with Gralia?
Something her grannies also often prepare.
Tinga de pollo (a dish made with shredded chicken) with black beans, plus guacamole.
Find the recipes below!
Tinga de pollo with black beans
gluten free, dairy free
500 g chicken breast
1 chipotle (a smoked and usually dried jalapeño pepper)
6 tomatoes, medium size
300 g black beans (soak overnight or use high quality canned beans)
1 big onion
2 garlic cloves
– Take a pot, fill with water, add some sea salt and put the chicken breasts into it. Boil for about 25 min.
– Dice tomatoes. Chop garlic gloves and onion. Cut pepper into small pieces.
– Heat some olive oil on the saucepan and add garlic. When roasted, take the garlic out (it´s enough to have a flavor). Now, add chopped onion to the saucepan.
– After boiling the chicken, shred it with your fingers, and then add to the saucepan.
– Add cut pepper and tomatoes into saucepan, some sea salt and cook for about 15 min.
– Take a pot, fill with water, add some sea salt and boil soaked and rinsed black beans until soft. If using canned beans, cook them slightly.
Combine beans with tinga de pollo and enjoy!
gluten free, dairy free, vegan, raw
4 ripe avocados
bunch of cilantro
1 onion, medium size
2 tomatoes, medium size
1 green serrano pepper, chili serrano
– Chop cilantro, cut ripe avocados to half, take out the creamy part and put in a bowl.
– Chop onion, dice tomatoes, and add to avocado mix.
– Take out the seeds of the green serrano pepper and add pieces of the peel to avocado mix.
– Add some salt and lime juice.
– Mix well so you have a delicious creamy mass.
Eat with tacos or like Mexicans love it: grab a tortilla, add some guacamole and meat on top of it, fold and enjoy!
Also great side dish or bread spread!