Friday, August 3, 2012

Food For Thought

Food For Thought

Dedicated to my father
Javier Gonzalez Murguia
August 4th, 1925 Ì August 25th, 2011

As most of you know, food is a very important aspect of my life.

It is the glue that brings and holds my family together…the twine that binds me to my friends…the reason why I get up in the morning (well, one of them).  Breakfast is the first thing Brad does in the morning…me I awake with the sun and prefer a nice fresh cup of rich coffee first thing while I read email, write my blog, read the papers, etc.  Then my stomach starts up a few hours later, Brad wakes up and we have a hearty Mexican breakfast or light oatmeal with fresh fruit, nuts and maple syrup…then we feast at comida time.

Our life here is scheduled around the Tianguis…the local markets.  On Monday we have the prepared foods market at the Hole In One as well as the local Chapala open-air market…Tuesday is Organic Market day…Wednesday is the Ajijic tianguis…Thursday takes us to Jocotepec for their weekly open-air event…and Friday we rest…phew!

We don’t always attend all the markets, but there is always something special that we would like to buy from one of these gems.  Honey and queso fresco from San Antonio, greens from the Organic Market, veggies and artesania in Ajijic.  There is always a reason to stop by these lovely, cobble stone streeted markets.  Sometimes I don’t have anything to purchase but choose to stroll through the street fairs just for the joy of it.

And I’ve finally figured out why we Mexicans are so notoriously late for everything.  We forget to factor in the time we spend saying hello to friends and acquaintances that we run into every time we leave the house.  This is a common occurrence…whether it be Alphonso at the street block’s corner telling you about his recent plantings and how his corn is growing in our emerald mountains…or Teo, the local Huichol leader and amazing artisan who had my beaded bracelets with him which he repaired for us.  Or Arturo my friend and local shoe shine man in the Ajijic Plaza.  I needed to know how his wife was faring with her acute illness…thank goodness she was better!

Teo y Su Familia

Teo's Kids

So when you factor in the time it takes to stop and say hello to old and new neighbors and friends, well you truly need an extra hour or two just to arrive at your destination.  Every once in a while the metropolitan in me rears it’s punctual head and says “hey dude, your going to be late”…but then I remind myself of what is important at that precise moment and I return to my wonderful conversation…and the person waiting for me on the other end doesn’t seem to mind my tardiness…they just take it in stride, of course.

For all of our casual living lakeside, life seems to spiral in a rush all around us.  Whether it be the myriad of psychedelic insects breeding, birthing, living quickly or the avian lot, such as a the barn swallows dashing Mach 1 to and fro, or the gregarious grackles chuckling at you in your slow state, they all seems to move at lighting speed.  This is life…in a hurry to “be”, to enjoy, to celebrate before the inevitable turn takes hold.  And take hold it does, much too quickly for most of us.

Which leads me back to food.  Food here is direct.  It comes from the earth of the lot down the carretera, or from Joco down the road.  It is relatively free of pesticides and preservatives.  When we buy our queso fresco from San Antonio, it doesn’t stay fresh in the fridge for a month…you eat it immediately upon returning home, savoring the amazing aroma and taste…wanting more.  The wide variety of fresh fruit is astounding…and is best enjoyed from the tree.  The honey is captured from local hives and is the sweetest taste around.

So I’ve learned to shop and cook with an immediacy and hunger that I didn’t have before.  In the same way I’ve learned to live with a gratitude and respect that seemed to be dormant until now.

As I look forward to traveling to Patzcuarro, Mexico this year for Dia De Los Muertos, I am already planning my altar, looking forward to that special time and place to remind me of my mortality and of the eternal joy that can be had if I just stop and listen to the sage advice of the universe.  It is inside all of us.  It just needs a lovely appetizer to boot it into gear.


Teo's Headless Fish Soup

(Traditional Jalisco Caldo Michi)

Serves 6

2 kilos carp, cleaned and cut into thick slices
3 zucchini, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, diced
2 fresh yellow chiles, sliced
6 cups chicken broth
1 handful cilantro, coarsely chopped
Fresh or dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste


Thinly sliced cabbage
Limes, cut in quarters
Additional chopped onion and cilantro
Hot sauce

Bring broth to a boil with the onion. Add the other vegetables and simmer 15 minutes and then add the fish, salt, and black pepper.

Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes or until the fish is almost done. Add oregano and fresh cilantro, cook another 2 minutes.

Offer thinly sliced cabbage, quartered limes, additional chopped onion and cilantro, hot sauce, and a basket of tostadas.

Note: My spin on this Mexican recipe is to use any ocean fish bought filleted and cut it into chunks to add to the broth. I find it much easier and I do not like the idea of fish bones in soup. Teo buys the carp from a fish farm in Jocotepec, but it can also be purchased in the Jocotepec central market or fish market every day.

Oddly enough, Teo always eats sliced bananas with his Caldo Michi. He does not consider this the least bit unusual.

1 comment:

  1. Hola,

    I noticed that you used a photo of mine on this web page: The photo of the bug on the big green leaf. .

    I don't mind at all and I'm glad you found it useful to use on your website. Can you please credit me as the photographer of the photo beneath it or some where on the page like this:

    By Dallas Photographer, Matthew T Rader

    Thank you