Everybody has that one nostalgic dish. That one flavor that transports you back to your humble beginnings. Every bite invoking a childhood comfort that somehow over the years we have grown so distant from. Pozole, is that bowl of comfort for me.
Pozole is quintessentially Mexican. A delicious bowl of hominy and stewed pork immersed in a chile based broth. The broth is deep and rich, incorporating the fatty deliciousness that renders off the pork during the cooking process. Traditionally, the soup is then topped with minced onions, radish, cabbage and cilantro, which comes on the side very much like the aromatics that always come with Pho. The fresh ingredients on top, plus a little lime at the end really tie everything together, matching the brightness of hand chopped veggies with the richness of slow cooked bone in pork.
Pozole is a memory. It brings me back to my Mexico City days, sitting outside of a little family run shop in Condesa during a bright sunny day, enjoying my very own bowl of the good stuff with a side of house made tostadas. The owner, an older lady adorned in a traditional Mexican flowered dress with long black braided hair, walking around the small blue and white tiled restaurant with a large pot filling up empty bowls. The sound of Spanish flowing through the hot summer air, the clink of bottles, the howl of vendors all around me. It all seems so perfect.
While Pozole is a vital part of my Mexican experience, it is quintessentially part of my New Mexican life, forever engrained in my past, present and future. Posole (now with an S) is a ritual in the land of enchantment, a mainstay in traditional New Mexican cuisine and something found in every New Mexico home during the holidays. The glow of luminarias flickering in the distance, the smell of Posole, tamales and red chile calling me to the table.
Posole at home is a totally different memory than Mexico, something that reminds me of family, of comfort and of my mother. My mom has been making posole at home for probably the last six or seven years and it has become a family favorite. She would always make it late night so we could enjoy it in the morning and always enough to feed a small army. I’d wake up, run through my incredibly cold house directly to the kitchen for a big bowl of that craveable soup. Each bowl a bit different, each bite a new experience.
In New Mexico you eat posole with red chile, red onion and lime. Simple and too the point. Very similar to the Mexican version but with a richer backbone and a thicker broth. I think it is incredible that food tradition spans countries, peoples and languages. It’s funny that a dish first inspired by a Native American soup has made such an impression on my life. Over its lifetime posole has stayed true to itself through Spanish influence, regional tastes and years of people passing it down. Posole is a result of generations of consistency. But here we are now.
A beloved southwestern dish becoming a family staple, enjoyed and longed-for equally by my Turkish stepfather and jewish mother. Posole, for me, is summed up in three words: Only In America.