October 19, 2008

Mystery chef

It is certainly an advantage to have a good cook at Casa Boleo, and we have been enjoying her cooking now for almost 3 months. Yesterday we had a great mystery. She posted the menu for supper—sopa de calabacitas (zucchini soup), arroz chaufa (Chinese rice), and a green salad. I didn’t anticipate the addition of soup to the menu since I had designed a fairly light, diet conscious supper. She worked late the night before and it was Saturday night and Esperando, the Storyteller and I didn’t want to rush dinner, so I told her she could leave the meal ready and we would just reheat it. Before she left I noticed the squash soup in a skillet where she had apparently cooked the vegetable part and I anticipated would add the stock to it. Esperando also had a look at the squash soup and came and told me that it had meat in it too. We argued about this for a while and eventually I sent the Storyteller into the kitchen to see what he thought it was, but all he saw was what she had prepared for the Arroz Chaufa because the fabled squash soup had disappeared. Then she left.

When we finally decided to eat I went in the kitchen to reheat stuff only to discover that she had cooked everything for the Arroz Chaufa to a point, but left the final assembly to me. The rice was soggy and standing in water, but I was able to drain it and make do. She apparently doesn’t understand how to run the rice cooker. She can follow any Mexican cookbook recipe and things taste fine, but most of my gringa recipes suffer in the translation. I looked around for the squash soup and could not find it, although Esperando and I had both seen something on the stove that we thought was squash soup. The salad was also not to be found anywhere.

The next morning I made a concerted effort to find the missing squash soup, but all I could see was two containers of a reddish sauce. Finally this evening I opened one up, it was the only thing I could see that was new in the refrigerator since yesterday. I saw some solid stuff had settled in the bottom of the Tupperware container that could be squash, but lo and behold it was hominy!! Eureka, she had made posole, so I had some for dinner and it was quite good, but the squash soup is still missing.

We have an independent cottage industry of foods here that I am starting to get to know a little. One of the maids came to me Friday and said that she had a good tamale maker and did I want to order some tamales for the weekend, so I said sure—two dozen! Turns out I got one dozen for $12. I think we are paying gringo inflated prices, or the maid is marking them up. They are tasty but not spicy and each tamale has two green olives cooked in it.

Then as I was coming back from an errand the other day, two Mexican ladies drove by in pickup truck and stopped to tell me that they had just come from Mulege where one of them has owned an ice cream store and pastry shop for the past 30 years. The back of their truck was loaded with dessert empanadas (mango, guanabana, and cheese), oatmeal cookies, coconut candy and sweet dinner rolls. So I had a variety for tasting and they gave me some extras to try too. It seems they come here every Friday, so they will call before they come and see if I want to place an order.

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