Archive for January, 2008

Experiments

January 31, 2008

This is what Adolfo calls it when I try out new foods on him. I have a four day weekend and am considering my options. One of the options in sushi. I haven’t made sushi at home before and think now would be a good time. There is a Japanese grocery store here and I think they sell all the things I will need for homemade sushi. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m also considering several bread recipes and will need to make more cookies.

I made Chocolate Crackles last weekend for the first time in a very, very long time, and they are all gone now. Granted, Adolfo has been having meetings in the house with two friends, so it’s not that we wolfed down the whole batch. I may just make these cookies again.

I think we just cleaned out the last of the spaghetti sauce from the freezer, so I will need to make more soon.

Tomorrow, I am planning to go with a friend to find a grocery store that sells all imported items and is the only place I know that sells REAL maple syrup. Since the only maple syrup we have was a gift from a coworker (who bought it at the store we are going to tomorrow), I’ve never been there. We’ll see what fun things we find.

I also want to go out to eat with some friends at a pizza place that we hear is owned by actual Italians, and see about 3 movies, and finally find the elusive pupusa restaurant we’ve been talking about for months.

There is a lot to accomplish.

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Super

January 27, 2008

I’m in a struggle with my local Gigante Supermarket. I want them to actually stock the things that I buy regularly. I’m not asking them to order things that they don’t usually stock (like tofu). I’m asking them to keep bread and milk on the shelves.

Granted, they have bread and milk, but I’m not buying Pan Bimbo and Lala milk. I want them to keep the only acceptable sandwich bread (it crumbles when you bite it) and the reduced fat organic milk on the shelves. Obviously people are buying these items, as they frequently run out.

So now, I’m participating in a battle of wills. Every time I go to the supermarket I ask for the manager who makes the orders and I ask her to, once again, order these items. She responds that on Monday (I’m there on the weekends) she will call the distributor. And, I respond by asking her to double the order of milk. The milk comes in a Tetra Pak box and is shelf stable. So, there is no risk of her order spoiling, and in fact she would sell more. She responds that she will call the distributor on Monday, and informs me that they are under new management. (There is no promise of doubling the order.)

Sadly, this is the only supermarket where I have seen this kind of organic milk. The other kind comes in a super fancy, costly plastic bottle and is significantly more expensive.

These are not the only things that come and go at the super. I was, for a time, able to get good Dijon mustard, but, not anymore. I didn’t complain to the manager about this, as I would rather put my efforts toward focusing her on the milk.

I made bread this weekend in order to survive the bread shortage. At least I can make bread.

Much better

January 26, 2008

I’m practically completely recovered. I now have a “little cough” instead of what was earlier this week “is that part of my lungs?” We went to Adolfo’s family doctor on Tuesday morning, in order to make sure I wasn’t developing bronchitis – and I am not. He asked me many of the same questions and some questions I was not expecting – “Do people smoke in your office?” (The answer, thankfully, is no.) He also did not ask some questions, like if I had an allergy. Interesting.

All in all a very good experience, we were the first people to have an appointment at 9am and met the doctor in front of the building. We walked in and sat down with him and talked for about 30 minutes, no secretary, no forms, no waiting in the little room with nothing to read. He recommended 3 kinds of pills (not antibiotics) and we went to the pharmacy and bought them (no prescription). The pills are GREAT! My cough slowed down considerably and the next day I went back to work.

sick

January 18, 2008

I’ve missed two days of work this week. I’m now to the point where if I just don’t move, I won’t cough. hmm… at some point I’m going to have to get up off the sofa.

I tend to get really annoyed when I’m sick, especially if I’m just sick enough that I can’t concentrate on a book. So here I am, annoyed and looking at all the projects that I’m not working on and the new books I have that I’m not reading.

I did get the King Arthur Flour catalog yesterday from my mother and it appeared to be at the right reading and comprehension level for me. So I went window shopping through the catalog for a while and kept myself entertained.

Being sick in another country/culture is also an interesting event. Much of the unsolicited advice is similar to unsolicited advice I would get in the States – put on a sweater, where is your scarf?, drink more tea, “Mija put socks!” But I think that last one is just specific to me.

However, there are two things that I notice here. One is an extra-sensitivity to “cold air”. Especially, that you should not breath it. How, you ask, should you breath if the air is in fact chilly? You should wear a surgical mask.

I’m not sure how the surgical mask heats up the air, or prevents the cold air from getting into your lungs. It’s a mystery to me, but the people here swear by it.

The other difference I notice has to do with medicines. Unlike in the states, where it is extra difficult and expensive to get medicine, here is is extra easy and not anywhere near as expensive. And, since you can walk into a pharmacy and ask for many kinds of drugs, people tend to have a little bit of information about what these drugs do (more so that what I found to be true in the States).

So when you get sick, people will begin rattling off the names of all kinds of drugs that you should take. I have no idea what they are or what they are for and I know the people recommending them to me are neither physicians nor pharmacists. But, they are well meaning, none the less.

So, what’s a sick person to do? Well, I let Adolfo be the filter on the drug list. The one time I was very sick (with a cold), he (and his mother) did the research (called all the aunts) and decided what I needed. I took whatever it was, and started to feel much better. But that’s just my experience.

And, I’m not wearing the surgical mask no matter how cold the air is.

Ideas

January 13, 2008

Someone needs to write a Roadfood for Mexico. Where are Jane & Michael Stern when you need them? I’m sure these little pueblos we passed on the road have a little diner-like restaurant with somebody’s grandmother cooking a fantastic pozole. But, how am I supposed to know?

Timeline

January 13, 2008

I have now spent more time living in Mexico than in Ecuador. And, not surprisingly, things are going much better here than the one semester spent in Quito. Also, the stakes are higher this time and I’m a different person than I was 10 years ago.

100 pesos

January 12, 2008

The last weekend before work began again (January 5th & 6th), Adolfo and his sister and I spent a weekend in Morelia. Morelia is in the state of Michoacan and is about 3 hours southeast of Guadalajara. It is a nice little colonial city and we walked around for hours checking out the interesting houses, the aqueduct, the cathedral, etc. (Adolfo already updated the photos.)

We had received some information about places to eat, and the best of them was the Inmaculada. First of all, the name is great. Who wouldn’t want to eat in the immaculate restaurant? However, as you might expect is more related to religion than the cleanliness of the place. The restaurant is located in the basement of a church.

The first thing we did was change 100 pesos (approximately $10 US dollars) into laminated chips of different denominations in order to pay for the food in the different stalls. The guy who took our money assured us that we could come back and change our leftover chips back into pesos. Also, we thought that we would start small and then go back and change more pesos if we liked.

Then we hatched a plan: Adolfo headed off to get some corundas (a local kind of tamale), his sister spotted the pozole, I got a combination of two enchiladas covered in potatoes and carrots, one fried potato taco and one fried meat taco and I got two drinks for us to share. Everything was fantastic, but we only spent about 40 pesos!

So, then we had a new agenda – we were going to try to spend all the money!

We spotted the stand for sopes and we sent Adolfo to get us sopes to share. We had 2 sopes each and were still left with a lot of change.

Then we had to take a break and recover for a moment. La Inmaculada was packed with large families and everyone looked local. We had ventured away from the central plaza and a significant amount of tourists, and now we were eating in a local hotspot, which was obviously being maintained and supported by the local lower-middle class population. None of us are really sure of how the economics of the place function. We don’t know if the people working at the stalls are the church members, how much of a cut the church gets, or why they were playing Frank Sinatra music! (Oh, I guess the last bit doesn’t have to do with economics. Still, we were puzzled.)

While taking the break Adolfo spotted some quesadillas made with fresh tortillas and went to check them out. Meanwhile, I spotted a woman patting out blue corn tortillas! It was a very exciting find. I decided I could eat one blue corn quesadilla. And, Adolfo’s sister took the last of the chips and bought some buñuelos for desert.

We were able to spend all the money, but we couldn’t manage to finish the buñuelos.

It was a very good thing that we were a 45-minute walk from the center, and our hotel. We definitely needed it.

Escrabble

January 4, 2008

Due to family (house) scrabble rules, I beat Adolfo’s family at scrabble, in Spanish.

Also, I spelled “laterales” using a “la” already in existence and spent all 7 of my letters!

Still here

January 4, 2008

Nothing like a few visitors to make the blogging fall to the background. But, the photography is still happening and you can see some of the Christmas cooking for yourself.

Adolfo’s brother when back home a few days ago, but his sister is here for another week. We are trying to convince them both to move back as soon as possible.

Part of the convincing has taken the form of food: sopes, enchiladas, posole, quesadillas, cocteles de camarones, tacos, tortas de pavo, chilequiles, sopa de tortilla, tortas ahogadas and dogos (near relatives of the Sonoran dogs).

I don’t know about them, but I’m convinced.

Also, we have tried several coffee shops and the local (German?) microbrewery. It’s called Der Krug Brauhaus and there’s sauerkraut on the menu. Although, we just stuck to the beer and home fries, next time I think we’ll sample the menu.

Tonight, for dinner I’m going to try out Rick Bayless’s recipe for Pescado a la Veracruzana using fish fillets.