How to Say Challapeño

Macy Halford

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Pozole con Matzoh Balls. Schnitzel Torta. Totopos de Gribenes con Guacamole. Schmaltz Tamales. What are these mysterious concoctions? They are the offspring of the unlikely marriage of two culinary traditions—Mexican and Jewish—that turn out to go together “like a chuppa and a mariachi band.” Or so writes Susan Schmidt, the author, with her daughter Alex Schmidt, of the Mexican-Jewish cookbook, on their blog, Challa-peño. Schmidt and Schmidt, who live in Los Angeles (full disclosure: for a brief time several years ago, Alex worked at The New Yorker), have been assembling their cookbook for years. It isn’t quite finished, but this summer they began chronicling their adventures, posting recipes and cooking videos and writing the story of the family cuisine. Despite the fact that I am neither Jewish nor Mexican, I’ve quickly become obsessed: it’s comfort food that’s exciting; it’s foods I like in their traditional preparations made better; it’s an evolutionary quirk that turns out to benefit the species. And it’s kosher.

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