How this Mexican staple became the ultimate hangover food

March 16, 2018

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Chilaquiles — fried tortillas covered in sauce, melted cheese and any variety of toppings — are equal parts satisfying and addicting.

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Like other comfort foods, including enchiladas, chilaquiles originated as a way to repurpose leftover tortillas for breakfast in the days before refrigeration.

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“You fry them and douse them in salsa and everybody forgets they were this stale, hard thing just hours before,” Mexico food expert Lesley Téllez said.

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In Tijuana, Los Chilaquiles serves 30 different varieties of chilaquiles, with over 20 different toppings, yielding hundreds of permutations.

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The chips are crucial. “For many Mexicans that is the sign of a good chilaquiles or a bad chilaquiles,” said Ilan Stavans, a professor at Amherst College.

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Eating chilaquiles after a big night supposedly has a healing effect. There’s also a social aspect to the dish.

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“If you are going to have a hangover, the Mexican medicine is the chilaquiles. It’s going to ... make you feel you are coming back to life,” Stavans said.

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When a host brings out chilaquiles, it might be a sign that they’re ready to call it a night.

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“At 5 a.m. the chilaquiles will be served,” Stavans said. “You eat a little bit, and that means the host is telling you, ‘You’re safe to go.’”

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