A few years ago, I found myself climbing El Cuauhcalli, an Aztec Temple of Eagle and Jaguar Warriors. They called it a pyramid but it was really a series of narrow steps and terraces carved into the mountainside built on the Cerro de los Idolos’ ceremonial – now archeological – site in Malinalco, a small town southwest of Mexico City. The security guard at the entrance swore it would take a brisk 2o minutes to climb the 400+ steps. I still don’t know why he lied to us. We’d arrived late and the ferocity of the midday sun almost stopped us before we began, until we saw a group of pilgrims, dressed completely in white, who were doing the same hike, singing and blissfully barefoot. There was no turning back – we followed the ghosts.
Posts from the ‘Main Course’ Category
Last year I took what felt like a slightly selfish trip to New Orleans. My excuse was book research, so I decided beforehand not to post or take too many pictures. It felt like if I stopped to post or take a picture every time I saw something beautifully strange or strangely familiar in New Orleans, I’d do little else. Strange because it’s a city so completely itself that it makes you come all the way there to experience it and familiar because I’d always heard stories from my family about New Orleans when it was a short jump from Havana. There were so many parallels that it wasn’t surprising that so many of my relatives settled there when they left Cuba in the 1960s. Read more
Trying to cover a lot of ground on my site, I regret that I don’t get to spend too much time in any one place – picking up terms and techniques without becoming fluent in any one country’s cuisine. But lately my Cuban cookbook research has kept me at home, literally and figuratively, so I was due for a side trip. Read more
A week ago, I got tired of playing kitchen Jenga in my overcrowded pantry. Deciding to clear the decks, I went through every can and bottle, checked expiration dates, and relined the shelves. While there weren’t as many items to throw away as I’d feared, there were enough to make me feel more than a little ashamed and wasteful. I hate throwing away food to the core, and there’s no excuse for it. Read more
Every four years, my extended family gets together in South Carolina for a week long reunion. Synced to both the presidential election (something to argue about) and the summer Olympics (something to look forward to), we always know when it’s coming. This time I carved out a few extra days to visit nearby Savannah – a city I’ve had a crush on for a very long time. Read more
It was about a year ago today that I started a major kitchen re-haul (really a few hours) before throwing a surprise party in my apartment. I say started because, while everything was put back into some kind of order, I don’t think it was really finished until this week. Faced with the potential embarrassment of friends seeing my apartment in shambles, I made miracles happen and then took some time off (about 12 months to be exact). Most of the elements were in place but crowded, and I hadn’t gotten around to tying it all together. Read more
Despite a lifetime of research, I’m always discovering something new in Cuban food. While it reminds me not to take anything for granted, less pleasant is knowing that my nearest and dearest have been holding out on me. That’s how I felt when I discovered that harina – cornmeal simmered to a creamy state and topped with peppery sofritos and poached or fried eggs, ham or chorizo, shimp or crab – was a Cuban comfort food staple that everyone was having but no one was talking about. I’d enjoyed Italian polenta prepared this way, but I hadn’t realized there was a take on it that was much closer to home – just not my home. Read more