Tag Archives: baking

Street food

Yum, yum, yum!

A FREQUENT warning to people visiting Mexico is not to eat food from street vendors, advice that I’ve ignored for 17 years, and I haven’t died yet.

This afternoon, sitting at a sidewalk table on the main plaza with a café Americano negro, I hankered for something solid. I narrowed the options down to two.

One was a shrimp cocktail from a street vendor on the small plaza a couple of blocks away. Two was whole-wheat fig bread from another vendor quite near the shrimp stand.

I chose Option Two, the fig bread. That’s it in the photo. I brought it back to my coffee shop sidewalk table and cut into it with my pocketknife, the one you see there.

The fig bread is a great example of an amazing phenomenon you often encounter down here. Persistent food heat. I purchased the fig bread out of a basket. The bread had a cloth covering both it and its compañeros, all awaiting diners.

The vendor likely had left home, or wherever the bread was baked, a couple of hours previously, but the bread was still quite warm as she tucked it into a plastic bag.

I walked the two blocks back to the coffee shop, sat, opened the bag, and the bread was warm still. I cut it in half for the photo. Then I ate a good deal. Still warm.

How do they do that?

After slipping what remained of the bread back into its bag, I was surprised by the sudden appearance of the inimitable Jennifer Rose who sat with me a spell.

I offered her some fig bread, but she declined.

Kitchens, Commies, etc.

kitchen

WHEN THE pastry workshop was completed in February, we thought all was done, but it decidedly was not. There was the matter of the stove.

We had purchased what seemed to be a serviceable stove made by Whirlpool, but it was anything but serviceable. The oven would not hold a constant temperature. Finally, after numerous visits by Whirlpool “technicians,” a woeful misnomer in this case, the store where we bought it — Coppel — took it back and refunded most of the money.

Bizarrely, we learned the oven has no thermostat. How can an oven have no thermostat? Apparently, this is becoming more common, which explains the new models that have no temps on the dial, just temperature ranges, or they simply say 1, 2, 3, 4.

An oven with no thermostat is like a car with no steering wheel.

So off we went to Liverpool in the state capital, spent almost three times the cash, and two weeks later we had a lovely appliance called i/o Mabe, which is the high-end line of the popular Mabe brand. It has many bells and whistles, and my wife is happy.

The i/o Mabe has a thermostat.

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New website

I have combined and edited the three-part series from some days back called Newspaper Days, made it one website, and added it to the Bookmark list in the right-side column. FYI.

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Election approaches

On June 7, we Mexicans go to the polls, the midterms. One of the many sweet aspects to being a Mexican citizen is that I can vote, canceling out the time and trouble at least one Mexican leftist takes to mark his ballot. This is swell. I wish I could cancel out even more than one.

There are 10 official political parties in Mexico, which is both good and bad. The bad is that we risk becoming like Italy. The good is that it’s fun to have options.

I read the official websites of most of them, skipping only the Workers Party because you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know where a party stands when its emblem is a yellow star in a Red circle and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) because I am already familiar with it. The oligarchic PRI ran Mexico for about 70 years, stifling opposition.

pan-logoI am a PAN man, the National Action Party. This is the long-time conservative party, and I only deviate from it (to the PRI) in special cases. I voted for PRI’s presidential candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto, three years ago because the PAN candidate stood no chance, and I did not want the leftist PRD candidate to win.

Our political parties contain some odd birds. The Encuentro Social are evangelicals. The Humanistas are, of course, Humanists. Perhaps the strangest of all is the Green Party, which is actually an arm of the PRI. The international Green movement excommunicated our Greens some years back because our Greens supported the death penalty for kidnappers.

Our Greens have backtracked on that, now advocating life prison terms for kidnappers instead of execution. I prefer execution. Color me old Mexican Green in this detail.

The Greens will promise absolutely anything. Free schooling. Free medicine. If it sounds good, they promise it. It’s outrageous. They have chutzpah.

A relatively new party is the Morena, the brown people’s party. Morena means brown-skinned in Mexico. It is the invention of the perpetual loser, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly known as AMLO. He is a demagogue who has bounced about in different parties, and now has formed a new one, a blatant racial call since 90 percent of Mexicans are brown

May he continue his losing streak.

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Drawing Mohammed

Let us now turn to the Mohammed cartoon contest, which I supported. It was appalling to see so many talking heads, even on the right, including my man Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, going wishy-washy on Pamela Gellar’s courageous contest in Garland, Texas.

David Frum, writing in The Atlantic magazine said this:

mohammed“When vigilantes try to enforce the tenets of a faith by violence, then it becomes a civic obligation to stand up to them.” 

And Charles C.W. Cooke, writing in the National Review:

“There can be only two possible outcomes to this fight: Either Americans will eventually learn that they should not provoke radical Muslims, and thus that self-censorship is the order of the day, or radical Muslims will learn not to be provoked. Whether they have intended to or not, those who have proposed that Pamela Geller and her ilk should voluntarily refrain from provoking Islam’s discontents have run the risk of tacitly endorsing the former outcome.”

Let us continue to provoke them. And shooting them dead when appropriate.

Figs in copper

figs
Figs cooking in copper pot.

MEXICANS ARE famous for being able to do most practical things easily and quickly. My child bride endlessly amazes me with her fast and practical solutions to about any problem, problems that would cause me to toss up my hands and go sprawl out for a nice siesta.

figs2
Then “canned” in bottles.

The other night she came home with lots of green figs in a plastic bag. She asked if we had a big aluminum pot. The answer was no. So she went to the living room and emptied a copper pot purchased years ago to hold ocote, a fire-starting wood. It was sitting by the fireplace.

She washed it real good. She sliced each fig a bit, and started the process, which began in the evening and continued on into the following day. She had never done this before. She found the process online.

A few years ago, after perfecting her pastry skills, she decided to bake bread, something that has a reputation of being tricky if you do it from scratch, especially your first time. She did it perfectly.

She wants this fig supply for her muffins. As I write this (last night) they are sitting on the kitchen counter exactly as you see in the second photo. They will be good. Trust me.

Mexicans are handy people.

Little quiches

Quiche

WHEN MY CHILD BRIDE is not pumping iron at the gym or jawing interminably with her sister (how women can talk), she usually is baking.

Four or so years ago, she began to sell her wares out of a basket on the main plaza of our Colonial town. She rapidly became very popular.

Words like increíble and sensacional  were heard. Selling pastries and bread on the sidewalk is common in Mexico. Some of it is good. Much is just passable.

Little is increíble.

The primary reason for this is that most vendors do it entirely for money. To maximize profits, they scrimp on ingredients. This is counterproductive, of course, but long-term thinking figures into few Mexican business plans.

Better to pocket what you can get today. Forget mañana.

My bride, however, is inspired by two things. One, of course, is to earn money, which she keeps in a separate bank account, and she does better than one might think since she only sells one afternoon a week, Saturday, and her prices are low.

The second is that she simply loves to bake. It’s a hobby. She embraces the positive feedback, which is considerable and puts a smile on her face.

She does not scrimp on the ingredients.

A few weeks ago, she added a new product. That’s it in the photo, little quiches. They are 4.5 inches across, and very tasty. They started out a bit slow because no one here knows what a quiche is, plus the natives are not adventuresome eaters, to put it mildly.

But the quiches have caught on, mostly with Gringos, becoming a popular addition to the other products such as pecan pie, banana bread, cheesecake, strawberry muffins, fig mufffins, brownies and little pies of chicken and beef.

When you marry a Mexican, you never know what you’re gonna get.

But it’s usually tasty.