Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chile Rellenos

Friday, Sept. 10, 2010

Friday. Chile Relleno day. I cleaned up the kitchen, made a list of food items we might need for the next three days, and wrote all morning. Trini showed up around 11:30 for my relleno lesson. But first we had to go to the plaza to get the cheese and chiles. We also got lots of other stuff: onions, garlic, tortillas, a can of tuna (for Trini), and those wonderful green juicy oranges. Five places. Each one has a specialty. Tortillas are made and sold hot off the griddle by the kilo in a hole in the wall next to the church, a tiny fruit stand where Trini and the vendor argued over which two avocados I should buy, a larger store with canned goods and the oranges, cheese at a different little store and yet another for a kilo of eggs, handed over to me in a plastic bag. Of course she knew exactly what to buy where, which had the best prices, and I spent a whopping twelve dollars. We have enough food to last most of the week. Back at the house she chided me for putting fruit in a basket that was intended for tortillas, and again for putting the eggs in the refrigerator. If eggs have never been refrigerated, they don't need to be. It ruins them she said. Wow. For my entire life I've been eating ruined eggs and didn't know it.

On to the rellenos. We spent half an hour roasting them over the open flames of the stove until they were quite blackened. She put them into a plastic bag to steam for a while, and then we washed the roasted skins off in the sink. A slit up the side and a few cuts dumped all the seeds out and they were put over a little rack to dry. She heated about 1/8th of an inch of vegetable oil in a skillet. Meanwhile she poked a big hole in each of six eggs and poured the whites out. She whipped them to stiff entirely by hand with a fork, then added the yokes into the foam and stiffened it up again. Meanwhile I put a big chunk of the crumbly cheese inside each chile and secured it with a toothpick, then powdered them with white flour. She took each chile by the stem and dunked it into the egg mix, then quickly transferred it to the oil. After a minute or so she rolled it over very carefully. Using her bare fingers and a fork she rolled them around and round until the coating was 'yellow' and starting to brown slightly. After they were a nice rich brown she pronounced them Ratones, rats. And indeed, they did resemble rats with a stiff tail sticking out.

Then, in her speed of light fashion she cleaned up the kitchen, swept the floor and said goodbye. I added some fruit, rice and guacamole to the rellenos and we had a incredibly good lunch around 2:00. John wasn't feeling very well, so he went off to nap, and I wrote for a while more. It was time to get some real exercise. I hiked up the road leading west for a couple of miles, to the most rural area. Wide open fields, planted in almost mature corn, alfalfa hay, and some vegetable gardens spread out over the verdant rolling hills as the road climbed up into the mountains. This day, the weather was intermittent, spitting rain and then bright and sunny. I had not taken my camera and it was a shame. The views from up there took in the entire lake region, and the volcanos to the east were fully visible, much taller than I had imagined when all I ever saw were their flanks disappearing into shawls of dark clouds.

John thought there might be some activity in the plaza in the evening since it is Friday. We didn't hear music coming from that direction so we sat around and talked, uploaded photos on the computer and he went to bed early. A very laid-back day, and in some ways a much needed rest. Newness and strangeness can make you feel tired, the brain can only take in so much at a time. I think that's why little kids need so much sleep. And this old brain of mine has been working out like Arnold Schwartzenegger getting ready for the Mr. Universe contest. I needed a day off!