Tacos: Debut recipe book by lily Ramirez-Foran
Lily Ramirez-Foran (Image: SpireVision Studio)

Tacos: Debut recipe book by lily Ramirez-Foran

Battling homesickness a few months after she moved to Ireland from Mexico in 2000 led Lily Ramirez-Foran to endeavour to bring authentic Mexican dishes to her adopted home country.

Now living in Walkinstown with her husband and business partner Alan Foran, Lily’s desire to bring Mexican cuisine is now a fully-fledged business run by the couple.

The duo run their successful shop and cookery school Picado Mexican Pantry on Richmond Street in Portobello, and Lily’s profile is rising as a result of her recently released debut recipe book, ‘Tacos’.

‘Tacos’ has been praised by Nigella Lawson and has been ordered by people all over the world.

While still processing the runaway success of her debut book, Lily took some time out to tell The Echo about how Mexican cuisine has helped to quell her homesickness, and she advised amateur cooks on how to approach cooking Mexican dishes.

When did you move to Ireland, and was there a particular moment or experience that cemented your decision to bring authentic Mexican cuisine to Ireland after you moved here?

I moved to Ireland permanently 21 years ago. The first six months of my life here were amazing.

I loved everything about it because everything was new: the people, the landscape, the food, everything was great!

But then, after a while, I noticed I was getting very homesick and it took me some time to realise that it was linked to not having any Mexican food.

We don’t really realise how much of who we are as people is linked to the food we eat and share with others.

I noticed that when I was able to cook Mexican food (even if it was improvising with weird ingredients) I felt more connected to my family.

I knew that if I could cook the flavours of Mexico and share them with my Irish family, I would feel so much happier.

Did you encounter any misunderstandings about Mexican food from customers/people in Ireland when you first set up Picado?

Oh my god, yes! When we first started selling corn tortillas, very few people knew how to use them.

The number one complaint we received was about tortillas breaking, it took me a while to understand that people wanted to use them the same way as the wheat wraps they would buy in the supermarket, which is cold.

Corn doesn’t have any gluten, so we always have to heat tortillas to make them soft and pliable – we would never ever eat a corn tortilla cold!

What was to me regular knowledge, was a completely alien concept to our Irish customers, so it took a lot of educating before that complaint was eradicated.

What, in your view, is an underrated Mexican dish that you wish more people in Ireland knew about?

I think the humble taco is quite underrated and misunderstood. Most people think tacos are those crispy shells you buy in supermarkets, but that’s very far from the truth.

Tacos are so much more than that – they’re versatile, family-friendly, easy to make and so delicious!

What can readers expect from your book, ‘Tacos’?

It’s a small but mighty book. It has 27 recipes for tacos, between fillings, toppings and salsas.

The recipes are my favourite tacos and I share stories and tips to make delicious tacos in Ireland. Expect the book to be cheeky, funny and personal.

‘Tacos’ was recommended by Nigella Lawson. How did you feel when you found out about her recommendation?

It was such a big shock! I was at a meeting and I could hear my phone vibrating constantly.

I thought there was something wrong, so when I got out of the meeting, I dived straight into it.

I had quite a few missed calls from my publisher and so many messages from friends, and my social media channels were all crazy busy.

I was very touched with the review, I had never expected someone like Nigella to read my little book, and to say she had fallen in love with it was a dream come true!

Since her rave review, we have been shipping books to every country in Europe and to some of the most remote corners of the world.

How do you feel about the overall feedback ‘Tacos’ has received so far?

Honestly, I feel incredibly grateful and terrified in equal measure. I have had so many lovely messages from complete strangers saying they love the stories in the book and they are posting meals they’re cooking from it.

We are getting requests for press from the USA and UK about it.

This little book, all beautifully illustrated by Dublin Artist, Nicky Hooper, with an all-female team behind it, which is not only my first book, but also my publisher’s first too, is making waves and getting love from all over the world.

It’s just a magical feeling.

What advice would you give to any amateur cooks who might find the idea of cooking a Mexican dish a daunting prospect?

Don’t be afraid. It’s only a matter of choosing a recipe that has ingredients you are familiar with, like my potato and chorizo tacos.

Who doesn’t like potatoes in Ireland?! I bet you if you make that one, you won’t look back!

‘Tacos’ is available now at blastabooks.com in paperback for €15.

For further information, visit Picado Mexican.

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