Exactly how far is the outback from Mexico?? Coming to Sydney, I knew Mexican food wasn't the most popular cuisine over here, but I figured I'd be able to get the basic ingredients I needed.
Enter Australia and its unfortunate placement clear on the other side of the world from Mexico.
Turns out, Mexican influence hasn't infiltrated Australian culture like it has American culture. I know, I know. Hard to imagine such a place.
Most Mexican ingredients are either not easily obtained or not available at all. I can't get corn tortillas at my grocery store—I have to go to the one across town to find them. (Corn Tortillas!! I think you can buy those at any corner store in the States, can't you? (Yes, I'm exaggerating.)) It took me weeks to track down black beans. Tortilla chips cost a fortune. I think my grocery store has one brand of salsa and it's not a good one. Definitely nothing of the verde variety. Want to make anything that calls for a can of green chilies or chipotle peppers? Forget it. No queso fresco to be had. And at first I thought they didn't even have cilantro. (Gasp!) Then I found out they do have it, but they call it coriander here. (Whew!)
I did find chipotle peppers at the import store, finally. Eight dollars for one of those little tiny cans! Some of the cheapest items on my grocery list back in the States are like gold here.
It's taken a little time and a little adjusting, but I've figured out how to get by. And "getting by" has called for learning how to do things from scratch, which I've always wanted to do with Mexican food, but it was so easy to just buy stuff like sauces and mixes and canned chilies. I have learned how to roast my own chilies and make my own enchilada sauces. And, as you know, fresh pico de gallo beats a jarred salsa any day of the week.
And while Australia doesn't have a love for Mexican food, they do have the internet. And I'm finding more amazing Mexican-inspired recipes than you can shake a maraca at on the Homesick Texan.
Not sure I'll ever go back to my old pre-prepared ways. (Hopefully not....)
Try the sour cream chicken enchiladas. They're uh-mazing.