October 17, 2009

Food for thought

Yesterday I spent researching recipes on the internet. It all started with the monthly menu I prepare for Cook-with-an-Attitude and New Cook. It is a dynamic menu because I am always adjusting the quantities and changing the ingredients based on who will be here when; what we can and what we cannot get locally due to changing seasons; and finding a middle ground to meet houseguests expectations (i.e., diets, allergies and food tastes). I keep trying new recipes—some of them turn out so-so, some are fantastic, so I add the good ones to our repertoire. After a year our repertoire is getting pretty plumped up and I have to keep a running list so I don’t forget any of them.

Last year about this time when the weather was actually becoming liveably pleasant, I asked our errand boy, Sr. Jueves to get ice cream. “Oh, Señora, there is no ice cream now, it is too cold,” he told me. “What? Impossible!” said I, “it can never be too cold for ice cream, and it is not cold at all, the weather is perfect,” so I went with him to the store and sure enough all those freezers full of ice cream were empty now even though the weather was in the 80’s and 90’s Fahrenheit. This morning I asked him if he could get scallops at the local market. “Señora,” he said, “it is very difficult to get scallops here because people really like them and buy them up quickly, but today they have scallops and I can get them for you. They also have langosta (what we would call spiny lobster) and I can get that too, it is pure meat, but I have buy at least a kilo.” Hmm, I thought, ok, why not? He returned with the aforementioned and enormous shrimps besides, all of which are cooling their heels in the freezer for use next week—

Off I went looking for a lobster casserole recipe and decided to tweak my Coquille St. Jacques recipe and turn it into Mariscos San Jack. It will lack the gruyere since that is impossible to get down here, but we can use a decent Tillamook sharp cheddar. Next I have to poll my guests to make sure that everyone likes lobster, shrimp and scallops before I have the green light to proceed. I wouldn’t want to cook all that delicious shellfish and find out people hated lobster or were allergic to shrimp, etc. The next challenge will be getting the cook to understand how to prepare the recipe. As I’ve mentioned previously gringo recipes don’t seem to translate very well. But I am so motivated by the memory of how great it tastes that I am salivating and will rise to the challenge once again.

Update.Last night’s poll did not go well, lobster, shrimp and scallops got shot down! One of our guests is allergic to fish!! Such are the trials and tribulations of running the guesthouse. I went and massaged the menu again. Beef—its whats for dinner. The Mexican equivalent of the Beef Council will be proud of me!

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