Archive for May, 2008

Happiness is…

May 30, 2008

…working from home.  Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize what I had been missing.

I can eat lunch with Adolfo almost every day.  And, this week, on the day I didn’t eat lunch with Adolfo, I was near my old office and ate lunch with my friends.

Fabulous.

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It’s just that life got in the way…

May 27, 2008

There are too many things going on here. I left the old job, started the new job and was promptly whisked away to Xalapa, Veracruz. I’m back in Guadalajara now and still working on getting settled into the new job, which is fabulous (in case you were wondering). Things are good and the blogging fell by the wayside.

The review of Xalapa is that is was great. Adolfo came with me and we really liked the town.

Xalapa is also spelled Jalapa, but pronounced the same – an H sound like in HOT. The people there are called Jalapeños. Guess what kind of chile they are known for producing….. Xalapa is not on the coast, but up a bit in the mountain side, but not far enough to get cold. It is pretty warm this time of year and humid like a Missouri summer. Nearby there are coffee farms and a lot of the business moves through town. It is also the capital of the state of Veracruz and the site of the main campus of the Universidad Veracruzana. It is known as a university town and it seemed to live up to that reputation. Veracruz is a long thin state on the Gulf Coast and is know for its port, fish dish (pescado a la veracruzana), humidity and transvestites. There is an oft repeated saying that the best looking women in Veracruz are men.

We stayed in a very nice (but not expensive) hotel called the Posada del Cafeto and they had coffee trees growing on the grounds. (that sounds like a pun, but wasn’t meant to be) In short time, we found two places to eat which we became very fond of over the 5 days we were there.

One was a local institution called La Sopa, which is located in Callejón del Diamante. We ate dinner there one night and had enfrijoladas, which play on the same concept as enchiladas, that is – they are tortillas pulled through a refried black bean sauce and rolled or folded over some shredded chicken and sprinkled with a hard salty cheese. They are obviously more filling than enchiladas, which are tortillas pulled through a chile sauce. So, Adolfo and I split one order and felt very good about that decision. I later ate there again and had a Pollo Manchamantel which was excellent. It was a chicken thigh covered in a chile sauce, like a type of mole. Manchamantel means “tablecloth stainer” so I had to drop my fork down the front of my shirt for the proper chile stained effect.

The other favorite place to eat in Xalapa is a relatively new café called La Galaria Barragán, which seems to occasionally have art exhibits. While we were there they were changing the exhibit. We spent a lot of time in this café and the second time we stopped in the cook recognized us. We had a chat with him about the menu and his experience working and cooking in Puerto Vallarta and he told me to send him a message the next time I am in town and he will reply with the menu for the day. Excellent! The only thing the Galaria Barragán is missing is a properly functioning internet connection.  Hopefully, when I return in August, it will be up and running.

We also went to the Museo de Antropología de Xalapa, or MAX, which is pretty impressive.  It is known as one of the best museums in Mexico.  The museum houses 7 giant Olmec carved stone heads and they are really stunning.

I will probably be traveling to Xalapa 3 times a semester, which means I should get to know town pretty well.
I still haven’t seen the market or the other museums in town.  I’m looking forward to going back.

Hot, hot, hot

May 11, 2008

Things are getting very warm here. It is nothing like an Arizona summer, nor is it wet and sticky like a Missouri summer, but all the same we are feeling the heat. Everyone says this is the hottest time of the year. As soon as the rains come, in June, the temperature drops back down to the 80s.

I’ve been making lots of salads, which are mostly composed of lettuce, carrot, cucumber, finely diced onion, avocado, and mango. The dressing is 2 tablespoons olive oil to 1 tablespoon lime juice with a smashed and finely diced garlic clove, salt and pepper. (I think I got this dressing recipe from Françoise.)

Everything is variable.

Today, for instance, I added a tomato and some parsley. The dressing had some chopped capers and white wine vinegar instead of lime juice.

We also tried some lentil burgers I found at the Ecotienda and they were remarkably good. And, there was NO terrible stomachache afterwards. I sautéed the lentil burgers in olive oil and we ate them along side the salad. If I am to continue with this trend, I may try to make my own lentil burger.

Chayote Soup

May 3, 2008

Well, a lot has happened in the last week or so. Adolfo got the worst cold I have witnessed (including a nasty fever) and I had a really rough week at work, resulting in me quitting my job. The same day I quit my job, I got an email letting me know that a job in my field was being created in Guadalajara. I have my second interview on Wednesday and if all goes well, the day after my last day of work at my current job (I gave them two weeks) I’ll start at my new job. Fingers crossed, of course.

I’m having a four-day weekend, due to Labor Day (May 1st) falling on a Thursday. And, now I’m feeling sick. It’s just a runny nose and general exhaustion, but it still stinks. Adolfo is mostly recovered. We’ve been taking a lot of naps.

I made a really great Chayote Soup from epicurious.com to try and cure my nose through spicy food. It didn’t work, but the soup was better than I expected.

I changed it a little, based on what I had and how much effort I was willing to put into it. So, I’m giving you the revised recipe below:

Chayote Soup

½ onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small chile Serrano chopped
½ tablespoon butter
2 chayotes, peeled, quartered and pitted, cut into large dice (2 ½ cups)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I had leftovers of both and tossed them in.)

Cook onion, garlic and chile in butter over medium low heat for several minutes until onion is clear. Add chayotes, cilantro and cook for another 2 minutes. Add broth and simmer, covered until chayotes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée soup in 2 batches in a blender until smooth (be careful blending the piping hot soup) maybe for 1 full minute for each batch. Taste for salt.

This soup is spicy and a lovely green color. I think it would probably be good with a little dollop of sour cream, but I didn’t have any on hand for testing.