Nicole Makrinos from 'Flan & Apple Pie'
Meet Nicole Makrinos from the Mexican food blog "Flan & Apple Pie". She grew up in Pittsburgh, but fell in love with Mexican cuisine after studying abroad in Puebla. A few of her favorite dishes include tlacoyos (corn dough tortillas) and pan dulce (sweet bread). After moving back to the United States, she missed the authentic cuisine and hoped to recreate the meals she relished. Not only has she been able to cook a lot of the amazing dishes she once had, but she's also made relationships with other bloggers like Lola - from Lola's Cocina - along the way!
How did you become so interested in Mexican cuisine? In 2007, I traveled to Mexico for the first time. Being that I am from Pittsburgh, an area with a small Latino population, I had never experienced traditional Mexican food before. When I arrived in Mexico, my senses were flooded with amazing experiences. I tried aguas frescas, mole, queso Oaxaca, pan dulce, paletas, and handmade corn tortillas for the first time. The flavors were amazing, and I was so surprised at how fresh the food was. Since that time, I have been fascinated with learning how to make traditional Mexican food.
Did you always have a passion for cooking? Yes! I come from a family of great cooks. My grandparents are Greek, and they owned a small diner in Pittsburgh. My dad grew up cooking, and he has always shared this passion with his children. My mom is a fantastic baker. She taught me how to make cookies, cakes, and pies. Both of parents always allowed my brothers and me to help out in the kitchen, and we learned so much from just watching them and being their assistants.
What is your favorite Mexican dish to make? I really enjoy making pozole rojo (red pork stew). It is something that my whole family loves and requests, and pozole just hits the spot on those cold, winter days.
What is your favorite Mexican dish to eat? That’s a difficult one! My all around favorite dish is probably chilaquiles rojos (fried tortillas drenched in red salsa), but I go weak at the knees for my mother-in-law’s zacahuil (Veracruz tamal) or tamales de calabaza (pumpkin tamales).
Describe Mexican food in three words: Fresh, flavorful, unforgettable
What inspired you to name your blog "Flan and Apple Pie"? The name for my blog was inspired by the fact that I come from one culture and fell in love with another. I am not Mexican by heritage. I grew up in suburban American, and as a result many of my food-related memories are of American food—macaroni and cheese, BBQ, chocolate chip cookies, hamburgers, and of course, apple pie. While I will always be proud of my American (and Greek) heritage, I came to love Mexico as well. Flan is a staple Mexican sweet and apple pie is a staple American dessert, so Flan and Apple Pie represents both cultures that I love.
Tell us more about how sharing your recipes has helped bring people together: I have met some amazing people as a result of my blog. Mely from Mexico in Kitchen is always encouraging me and sharing tips with me, and Kate Ramos from Hola Jalapeño always leaves nice comments on my Instagram posts. However, my biggest supporter by far, is Lola from Lola’s Cocina. Not only has she supported and encouraged me, but she has become such an amazing and wonderful friend. Sometimes I feel like I would have stopped blogging a long time ago if it weren’t for Lola.
What do you miss most about Mexico City? I miss the street life of Mexico City. I loved being able to go out on a Sunday afternoon and stroll through the park. There was always a show going on or something to do. I loved that there was food on every corner, and everyone just seemed to slow down and enjoy life.
What do you miss most about Puebla? When I lived in Puebla, I stayed with a host family. My host mother, Tere, made the most amazing enchiladas rojas. I miss her enchiladas. I have never eaten enchiladas as good as hers.
What do you miss most about Mexico? I miss the people of Mexico. I have never met a more gracious and warm culture. Everyone is kind, helpful, and good-spirited, and I like that life revolves around spending time with family and friends.
Read Nicole's recipes published on Meeexiiicooo here: "Flan & Apple Pie: Calaveras de Azúcar // Sugar Skulls" & "Flan & Apple Pie: Tamales de Calabaza // Pumpkin Tamales"