(upbeat drumming music) – I love learning about history,peeling back the layers, opening Pandora's box ofhuman history and behavior to make Mexican foodin a very specific way that I could also back it up. So the second someone said,”Well that's not Mexican,” I could say, “Well actuallyin 1642 the Italians landed in the Costa de la Cruz,” and I could rattle off a bunch of dates.
And a bunch of facts,and I would just sit back and I'm like, “Yeah, where'syour racist ass comment now?” (music stops) (hopeful upbeat music) – I'm Grant Crilly. Join me as I travel acrossthe country to meet chefs who are shaping our food culture. We learn about their ups, downs,successes and heartbreaks, where they come from, how they got here,.
And where they're going. Every route is differenton the road to cooking. (upbeat keyboard music) I had never met Claudette before. Pulling up to Claudette's house, she just shows up in a cool way. A badass who you can like,”Oh, I want to hang out. Will you be my friend?” (laughing) You know?.
(doors closing) – So I was born in SanDiego and raised in Tijuana. I have a very gypsy sensibilityon both sides of my family. We crossed over in thenineties, like mid nineties. We moved permanently to SanDiego, to Imperial Beach. So this was all put in when Iwas a senior in high school, I believe 2002. – And you would come here as a teenager? – Oh, this was– Or all the time?.
Surf P.E., yeah. We would graba burrito at the taco shop and come walk the pierand then walk back down. It used to say, “do not jump,”(Grant laughs) (laughing) because in our middle school and high school days, weused to jump off the pier at any hour on a dare,just for shits and giggles. We use a phrase in Spanish,it's (speaks Spanish). It means “you're not from hereand you're not from there.” Which is a term that a lotof immigrant kids feel.
The feeling that you're notMexican enough to Mexicans and you're not Americanenough to Americans. You had to like assimilate and you had to work twice as hard to get ahead. (waves splashing) I never felt like I belonged. Like I knew there wasmore out there for me to, like the world I needed to, like, devour. And then I had kids at a very young age.
So I've had every job under the sun though as a single parent. I've, you know, cashedchecks at the Money Tree. I worked at the IKEA returns department. I was a bookkeeper forthree years for a nonprofit- – Wow, wow.- as a day job, and then I had to gowork a line job at night. When I found out I waspregnant, I was working as a door girl at a nightclubin downtown as a job at night.
On the weekends- Whoa. – because they needed agirl to frisk the girls. – Oh, okay, okay, okay. – So yeah, I found out Iwas pregnant there at 18. I had to quit because someone punched me and I was starting to show. – No way.(Claudette laughs) How did you keep going or whatwas your next steps on there? – I went to (speaks Spanish)to visit my aunt and I said,.
“I'm lost. Like I don'tknow what the fuck to do. I don't know who I am, Idon't know what I wanna do.” And she said, “The universewill always call you back to where you belong.” My entire career then became devoted to finding out why Mexico is so special. (waves splashing) (electronic keyboard music) – Now we're on our way to Tijuana.
– Yes. – TJ. I think this willbe a good adventure. (music continues) – Welcome to the Mercado Hidalgo. – I'm so excited to be here. – This is the heartbeatof Tijuana's food center. Mercado Hidalgo is the largestopen air market in Tijuana. No matter what part of the world I'm in, the first spot is markets.
– Yeah. – It's how you see how people move, how you see how cultureshave come together. It's really the heart centerof any place in the world, markets.- Yeah. You get to see what areall of their national, international influences. Their history, their recorded history. – You know, it's funny,like the two ingredients.
That I gravitated towardsmost to start kind of reigniting that fire was corn and beans. – Yeah?- Uh-huh. Everyone assumes that pintobean is the only bean we use but we have so many thatare indigenous to us. – What's that? – You've never had pulque? So it's fermented agave honey water. So they scrape the insideof the heart of the agave.
In the foothills. It's fermented, but it alsogets you fucking buzzed in the wildest way.- No way. – They say that it'ssimilar to smoking peyote. – No way. – And I once got drunk off of it, fell asleep in the fetalposition on my way to the airport (laughing) and then woke up and I'm like, “Oh, okay, time go home.”.
I was so happy. It was just this different kind of high. Like I'm amazed that hedoesn't have gloves on. Like I thought I was a badass, you know, flipping tortillas without (both laughing)gloves or without a tool. He has something that, when those little, especially the small spikesget embedded into your fingers it is a splinter you cannot find.
– Yeah. And he is doinga very thorough job. – Oh my gosh. – Like, these look fucking great. – Yeah. Throughout the years, Ilove seeing why humans do what they do through cyclicalpatterns through colonization, through spice trades and all this. I started learning everything and became a culturalanthropologist on my food.
(music stops) (upbeat drumming music) – Claudette's shown us around town and she gets into talkingabout her favorite place. “You have to go here,you have to go here.” Las Cuatro Milpas. – Las Cuatro Milpas is theepitome of female vibe. Female energy of strength. Ranby women, operated by women. If you don't like it,they don't give a shit.
(indistinct chatter) – You think in a restaurant, imagine the exact samesituation: for men, ran by men, only men, versus run by women. What would be differentabout it, do you think? (both chuckling) – There'd be a lot morescreaming and chaos. There's no ego– More? – like these women. There's no ego.
While they have very strong personalities- – Yeah.- each one has their role. – Yeah.- No one's trying to trump the other one. – Better team players. – Yes.- Yeah. Look, right when yousaid that, she's like, patting off her little sweats. – We're caretakers.
– I've never seen likea guy do that's another guy in a kitchen.- Right. Yeah. She was just like, patting her brow. (both laughing) Having kids at a very young age gave me perspective as like, what was important. Working really hard to makesomething out of myself, and I started to cook thefood that I grew up eating and that brought me so much joy.
I leaned in hard on like the soul food, slow cook, grandma style. I call it grandma chic. Like the grandma sensibility was like hitting you in the feels with a bite. (laughing) He's there choking. – (coughing) That's spicy. I just barely had any, that's spicy. (clears throat) Oh my god, show's over.
– (laughing)his eyes are watering. – (continues coughing) Holy God. (upbeat xylophone music) You know, we get back to Claudette's house and it's time to cook. So we throw on a coupleaprons, hang out with mom, Mama Nancy. (chuckling) – She's trying to have it up.
– She's like busting out beans, busting out arroz con leche. But it was so clear to seewith Claudette and her mother they both love cooking for other people. – You know, I don't havea chef supervision when I was learning to cook, so. – But now you have like this chef hovering over your shoulder.(Claudette laughs) Like, “I dunno, Mom. You sureyou wanna do it like that?.
I don't know. Wouldn't youlike, all right Mom, whatever. Okay. I wouldn't do it.” – And it still tastes way better than if I did it technically right. So lamb barbacoa, it'sthis beautiful story of middle Eastern culture,Mexican culture coming together and being like, “What you got?””What you got?” We didn't have lamb and thisother culture brought it over,.
And then we had, youknow, our ingredients. So barbacoa starts with the adobo. And the adobo is a base of dried chiles. You can use any combination that you like, from spiciest to mildestdepending on your preference. Aromatics, you have youralliums, you have onions, garlic. Spices, I like using allspice, cinnamon and just avocado leaves if I have them. If I don't, it's okay also.
So you don't boil the chiles,you just slowly steep it, like if it were a teaand then you strain it to remove any possibilityof bitterness to develop. And then salt. The trick is the vinegar. An adobo without a vinegar isn't an adobo. And that is really like the final balance component to the adobo. Seared lamb. You can make itshanks, you can make it chops, you can make it rack, leg, shoulder.
(meat sizzling) And then just like rubbed with the adobo, wrapped in banana leaves. What banana leaves do isnot only impart flavor, but they also help keepsteam in its place. The trick is though, if theyare raw, you have to roast them or cook them in orderto make them pliable. I like to cook it withpineapple, the sugar content with the chiles and thelamb gaminess all together.
Make this really beautiful song together. You're gonna pop it inthe oven about 400 degrees for four to five hours. You could do it lower and longer. It should be tender enough tobe kind of, without utensils like grab it a tortilla, thatis a good cooked barbacoa. (gentle acoustic music) – To see somebody sopassionate and creative and somebody with so muchenergy in their universe.
As Claudette, who clearlyhas so much heart and soul to share with the world. To hear that story, you know, from the outside lookingin, it's super inspiring. She's just on fire. You know, it's crazy. – I don't make a home in a place. I make a home within peoplein like a tribal setting. There are people that I feel at home with,.
And I think that has todo with being a kid of two different countries,two different languages, constantly flexing those muscles. For me, cooking for people,it really does feed my soul (chuckling) of like thatinternal 80 year old grandmother that just wants to make people happy. And I love it. I love it so much. (acoustic music continues).