me (Paty), Lourdes and our finished pozole
Well, it’s been two months since my last post and a lot has happened, but I will start with the most recent event. I finally moved into my house on December 6, 2016 and this past Saturday, January 21st, I had a housewarming party – or inauguración as they call it here.
Since I had a gringo meal for my birthday, and then hosted a pre-Christmas traditional Christmas dinner as I would have had in the United States, I decided my housewarming would be completely Mexican.
On the menu was:
spaghetti (for the vegetarians and the kids who wanted it and any Anglos who couldn’t eat the spicy stuff)
pollo a la Mexicana
carne de res a la Mexicana
and three cartons of cerveza, plus assorted refrescos, tequilla, vino, ponche and assorted licores (liqueurs made from macadamia, rompope, almonds, coffee) – basically lots of alcohol and soda (or “pop” as the Canadians call it).
Lourdes taught me how to make the pozole and I made the spaghetti along with a sauce of vegetables cooked in tomato puree. Now for those of you who are vegetarian, you might not want to read this, as the soup is very heavy on the pork and didn’t waste anything.
Well, you’ve been warned, so here goes:
First was the corn, of which there are many types here. What I bought was 4 kilos of very large and hard corn kernels. They had to be soaked overnight, and then ended up being cooked for 7 hours on the stove. This is the same corn that is soaked in lime to break down the protein before it is eventually turned into the flour for making tortillas. However, pozole, which I personally call popcorn soup, only requires that it be boiled to death in water. And by the way, the next day, my tank of cooking gas was empty, so thank goodness I have a backup tank.
here is a photo of the corn after soaking overnight
We had gone to the local butcher to order all the meat for the party. For the pozole this meant: 2 kilos espinazo (the backbone), 2 kilos carne grues pura, 1 kilo bandera and 1 kilo curito. I am not sure which English word corresponds to the rest of the Spanish words, but the meat was the skin, legs and meat below the ribs.
At one point, I thought Lourdes had put my white dish towel into the sink, but it turned out to be the pork skin, which did look like a white sheet.
three kinds of hot chile peppers and 19 kilos of meat
The fire was lit under the corn at 6am and two whole heads of garlic (not cloves of garlic, but the whole head, not even peeled) and some salt were added. Now you can tell when you’re in a gringo house by the salt and pepper shakers. I have never seen a shaker of ground black pepper in a Mexican household, and the salt is large-grained and served in a bowl, so you pick some up with your fingers to sprinkle on your food. I used my mother’s Ukrainian covered dish for the salt, and have my gringo salt and pepper shakers beside it for comparison.
bowl of salt, Mexican style in a Ukrainian dish next to my gringo salt and pepper shakers
The meat was salted and then rinsed to get rid of any blood. Salt was also added to the broth to add flavor. Over time, the meat and skin were added to the mix to continue to boil for a total of seven hours. The corn kernels did expand and looked like popcorn with a chewy consistency.
Lourdes preparing the meat
adding meat and salt to the soup
adding the skin – you can see why I mistook it for a dish towel
The garnish was chopped cabbage, limes (which they call limones, pronounced lee-MOH-nez, not LIE-mon as they do in Colorado), and chopped onions. I chopped up the onion just fine, but diced the cabbage instead of shredding it as they usually do here. Oh, well, live and learn and the taste was the same no matter how it was cut.
Once all the food was ready, it was Party Time!!!!! Volunteer Michael brought the music, Tina brought the rest of the food and everyone else brought themselves…. We all had a wonderful time with way more than enough food for everyone, so everyone got something to take home, and I still have enough to eat for a week, plus froze a lot of it.
Before moving into my house, I lived in the Project Amigo volunteers’ quarters for a year. The staff, and my future neighbors here were so kind and caring, helping me adjust to the language and customs, and when I was sick, making sure I had food to eat and even taking me to the doctor. This was my THANK YOU to all of them, and I am so happy in my new home surrounded by honest, caring, hard-working GOOD people…