Irish-Mexican food for Christmas
Food has a special way of bringing people together. We spoke to Chef Lily Ramirez-Foran about her unique Irish-Mex cooking and what she is planning for Christmas.
When we gather around a table to share a meal, it brings a feeling of togetherness – a moment that often flies under the radar. And this is especially true when we bring family and friends together to share Christmas dinner. All around the world, this time of year is celebrated in unique and special ways – where food plays a central role.
As a Mexican living in Ireland, Lily describes her home recipes as a new blend she calls “Irish-Mex”.
She says cooking Mexican food in Ireland showcases the amazing array of Irish produce available to cooks. Whether it’s bean tamales with St Tola’s Cheese or Dingle Sea Salt added to recipes, Lily feels lucky to have access to quality produce made in Ireland.
“I like to think that my food tells the story of who I am and where I come from.”
Everything Lily cooks is designed to tell a story – whether it’s recipes from her mother or tips learned from research, she sees food as a way to share her heritage using Irish ingredients.
We are family
Lily tells us that family and homeplace have had a big influence on her cooking, with her biggest influence being her mother.
“My mother has definitely influenced me the most. She’s a wonderful cook and has a passion and love for food that I have not met anywhere else.”
For Lily, cooking is a cultural act. Describing cooking as an art of storytelling, she explains how through food we can express our identity and speak through the language of the people, as well as tell the story of personal journeys and origins.
And where you live has an influence over what you cook also, or how you cook it. For Lily, life in Ireland has influenced how she cooks Mexican dishes, shaping her process in a new form and re-imagining how she designs menus.
Part of the Christmas tradition in Mexico is preparing the Pierna Mechada – a leg of pork filled with various ingredients, rubbed with flavours and roasted for several hours. Despite being quite labour intensive, Lily assures us it is well worth the effort, for the flavours and of course for the tradition.
“Despite the hard work, it is part of the ritual of Christmas at home.”
Aside from the Pierna Mechada, the most iconic tradition in Mexico are called Las Posadas – a series of 9 parties that begin on December 16th and finish on Christmas Eve. These parties bring the whole neighbourhood together, and of course the party food is exceptional, Lily assures us.
“We have loads of tamales, atoles (a hot drinkable custard made with maize dough), hot chocolate, ponche (Mexico’s version of mulled wine) and Buñuelos.”
No matter where you are this Christmas, we hope you have a wonderful time sharing plates with tastes of home. Here’s our guide to Christmas with advice and tips to make it stress free and cooked to perfection.
Lily Ramirez-Foran is chef and owner of Picado in Portobello, Dublin.