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Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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  1. Looks a little like what we see here as "Argentine chorizo," which is pale and without red color and spicy seasonings. A little like German wurst, which I guess makes sense given the number of Germans in Argentina. One of our best friends and his immediate family fled Nazi German and ended up in Argentina. He spoke fluent Argentinian Spanish, which is unlike most other forms of the language.
  2. Anybody ever had white pineapple? We had it some years ago in Ecuador and thought they were extra delicious. Never saw them again (we haven't been back to Ecuador).
  3. I learned a good trick recently: instead of planting scallions one at a time, plant 4-6 seeds in one spot. When the seeds sprout you will have a clump of scallions, which you can harvest one at a time as needed. I tried this last summer and it works a treat. Some of them now are getting a little hefty but still give me a true scallion when I need it. Admittedly, I'm gardening in central Mexico so my seasons are different than most of yours. For instance, I'm about to start my tomato seeds to plant out in February. In the meantime I have snow peas, lettuce and chard and will start my pole beans in February as well. I grow my garden in large plastic horse troughs and big fiber pots because I don't have a dedicated space for a garden. Most of the yard is ornamental plantings that I inherited from the previous owner, but having grown a vegetable garden since I was a teenager I just had to have something other than bougainvilleas. No flies on bougainvilleas, but I want green beans and tomatoes too.
  4. A trick I learned from my Spanish teacher is to lightly rub the chiles with oil--olive, canola, whatever--before you start to roast them. The skins pop as they roast and they're easier to peel. The problem is when the roasting process takes too long and the chiles "cook" before the skin is ready to peel. You want them almost raw. And I always choose poblanos that are relatively flat or triangular, with nice long stems to use as handles when turning them. Chiles that are twisted or have deep recesses are very hard to roast. I roast them on the burners of my gas stove so I can keep track of them. So leave the stems on and cut out the seed core with a knife or scissors. Pop 'em into a plastic bag and let them steam.
  5. I'm late to this rodeo, but when I think of panetone I remember that when I was in college I tried to make it one year for Xmas. The operative word is "tried," because the result resembled building materials. It was my first effort with yeast baking, and shall we say it wasn't a success. If I tried it again I'm confident it would turn out well, but buying it seems to be the most common way to experience it.
  6. Ah, you're right. Thanks for the correction.
  7. I'm reading a very illuminating book--The Lost Supper: Searching for the Future of Food in the Flavors of the Past, by Taras Grescoe. I have it on my phone (Kindle app) as a library book via the Boulder (Colorado) Library, a wonderful option for me given that I have no access otherwise to good books. The premise is that industrialized food production has caused a significant loss of quality and flavor, along with producing an alarming degradation of the environment. We're poisoning the world, and the result is tasteless food loaded with pesticide residue. The loss of more flavorful, older varieties of food--vegetables, cheese, pigs--in the name of "feeding the world" has brought about a situation that seems untenable. It also tends to drive out small producers who are trying to maintain those older, more tasty, varieties. The chapter on garum, the fermented fish sauce that the Romans and Phoenicians made, is particularly amusing. The author attempts to make the stuff and finds that the process is absolutely disgusting. The conclusion is that Thai fish sauce (especially Red Boat 45) is not only easier and more available but also an equivalent taste without the nastiness of buckets of fermenting fish. This is why I buy heirloom varieties as often as possible, and order seeds of those varieties from Seed Savers Exchange and similar organizations that try to maintain the good tasting foods that we may remember from our youth. I'm not the only one who's noticed that those grocery story tomatoes taste like cardboard. Sure, they look good but the taste is disappointing at best. Talk about empty calories! I'll never be able to grow my own food in sufficient quantities, but I do what I can.
  8. It's been my experience that using mashed anchovies or paste isn't noticeable in most dishes if the eaters don't know it's there, especially when there are tomatoes involved. Just sayin'.
  9. I'm pretty good with chopsticks, but I had an epic failure the other day when I ordered sushi. First of all, the rice wasn't correctly made--it fell apart--and the chopsticks were metal and very slippery. (They were attractive, though.) That's what you get when you order sushi in the middle of Mexico, I guess. And I think my hands aren't as strong as they used to be, which complicated the situation.
  10. It always amazes me that the Mexican people are almost uniformly cheerful. We may see them as downtrodden by the corruption and poverty, but that would be wrong. Yes, their government lets them down, but somehow they are able to overcome that and smile at us when we greet them on the street. Every time we've needed assistance--a car accident, for instance--they are quick to help. They seem incapable of ignoring someone who's fallen (that would be me) or is broken down on the side of the road. The nicest people in the world, imo.
  11. In Mexico the large grocery stores usually employ older people as baggers. They always take great care with our food. In one store a serious older man carefully places the liquor and wine bottles on their sides in our cart and places the other stuff around them. It's customary to tip the bagger (it may be their only source of money) and I tend toward the generous. We generally roll the cart out to our car and stow the stuff in the cooler and plastic storage crates. We either take the cart back to the store or give it to one of the parking attendants. They offer to help you stow your food and then manage the cart. They also "help" us back out of the parking slots, even though we don't need the help, and we tip them as well. My husband likes to get the "blessing"--Que le vaya bien (That you go well, i.e. safely). Everybody in Mexico needs to make a living one way or the other.
  12. I'd watch Frances McDormand take out the trash. She's a chameleon--a brilliant actor who's different in every movie.
  13. I like that--the size of a blueberry. I would also like recipes that tell us actual amounts rather than "a medium onion." And then there's "chili" vs. "chile." One is something you make for a cold night's dinner, and the other is a pepper.
  14. Have you guys ever camped in Quartzite? From what I understand it's a small city in the winter but clears out completely in the summer. Is it a free for all in terms of sites, or are there organized areas? I admit to being a little curious.
  15. * that would be me, the day my credit card was refused (it had been compromised, but I was unaware at the time) and I had to rummage through my purse for cash….including coins…and figure out where the heck to insert them. I felt like such a dope - hey lady, you’re at the grocery store, is it a big shock you need to pay! That was me, last summer. For some reason I didn't have my card with me and had to pay cash. Trying to find the place to insert cash was embarrassing--I had to ask for help. I kept saying, "I usually pay with a credit card, so I didn't know where it was!" The employee told me that a lot of people have the same problem. Clearly the store wants us to use credit cards, so that's the most noticeable and convenient location for the card.
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