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06/02/2020

~About Fideo, the Traditional Noodle (Dish) of Mexico~

IMG_2737Fideo is a traditional noodle dish or soup.  It's popular in homes and restaurants throughout Mexico and the Southwestern United States.  No two cooks make it the same way.  Hey!  It's noodles.  Had I not had a lovely Mexican-American woman as a neighbor here in PA back in the latter 70s, I'd have missed out on this easy-to-prepare Mexican-, Mexican-American comfort food. Like noodles and pasta in general, home cooks and restaurant chefs prepare this versatile and inexpensive ingredient in all sorts of creative ways, using spices, flavorings, and/or vegetable-, protein- additions authentic to the region they live in.  Fideo is comfort food.  Fideo is said to have come to Mexico via the Spanish of Cavite (a province in the Philippines) in the 1600s. 

IMG_2789In Spanish, fideo means noodles. Fideo noodles are fine noodles, usually made with durum wheat and water, rolled, then cut into about 1"-1 1/2" pieces and dried. Depending on the region, recipes occasionally call for substituting broken pieces of vermicelli, angel hair pasta, or even spaghetti. What makes fideo uniquely different from other pastas or noodles is the method by which they get cooked. Once broken into short pieces, the noodles are always toasted in some oil and/or butter until nicely-golden and crisp.  After this all-important first step, they are either left in the pan to be further cooked in a specific main-course or side-dish recipe, or, transferred into a tomato-based soup for further cooking.

When served as a main-dish or a side-dish, the concoction, which varies from cook-to-cook, is very often referred to as "Mexican spaghetti", or, simply "fideo".  That said, more-often-than-not, all versions contain a various amount of liquid (water, stock or sauce), and almost all contain some form of tomato, plus onion, garlic and/or cilantro.  Many are made spicy or extra-spicy by adding chile powder and/or hot sauce.  When serving this starchy side-dish as a main-dish, it is usually presented as a flavorful bed for traditionally-seasoned (sliced, diced or shredded, roasted grilled or stewed), chicken, beef or pork.  When served as a soup, it's referred to as "sopa de fideo", and, while, with additions, it can be served as a main-dish, it is typically served as a starter course, or to cure a hangover or flu, or, to simply soothe the soul on a damp, cold day.

Toasted until golden & crisp, fideo noodles = the perfect foil for many Mexican-style noodle dishes & soups:    

IMG_2806"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)

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