Saturday, December 16, 2006

The nearness of food

The fishermen left this morning at 3:00. Living directly across from a fishing village gives new meaning to the words, "Time and tide wait for no man." It was Grand Central Station out there, with motors, whistles, songs and advice shouted from boat to boat about the best way out of the estuary. The first image here was taken from the tower of the Casa del Castillo, a neighboring B&B which you can see in the second image. That second and third images were taken from our backyard. It's nice to think we could -- if we wanted to -- just flag down a fisherman, buy a fish and pop it "on the barbie." We haven't done that. I like my fish cleaned and ready, and Larry doesn't like to see their eyes.

But we're kind of getting into being up close and personal with our food. Today I have eggs from Maria who knows her chickens by name and watermelon bought from a truck which came right to our front gate. When I asked if they were ripe, the man gallantly sliced off a huge chunk with a machete and handed it to me.

We buy coffee grown in Nayarit and roasted locally less than a mile away. We buy it from the family who grows and roasts it themselves.

We buy tamales from the man who sells them from the back of his truck, driving up and down the streets crying "Aquí hay tamales. Sabrosos tamales de elote, de puerco y de pollo."

Thursdays are my favorite days. The tianguis in La Peñita -- the village across the estero from us -- has vendors selling fresh shrimp, ceviche, Argentinian sausages, beans, sugar, tamarind, flor de jamaica (red hibiscus flowers which make a wonderful light drink), fruits and vegetables whole and ready to prepare, or cut up in fanciful shapes and packed in clear plastic containers. I bought a kilo (over two pounds) of strawberries for twenty pesos (under two dollars)last week. They went into the blender with the watermelon, mint from our front planters, lime juice, and just a little sugar. That's what I was drinking this morning up on the roof as we watched the sunrise, listened to the roosters crow, and enjoyed the quiet.

I hear cautionary voices in my head. Yes, Aunt Pat, we give those fruits and veggies a nice bath in a Clorox solution before we prepare them, a universal practice here which probably would have averted the national U. S. spinach fiasco this last summer. As I write this, I hear that lettuce is suspected in recent sickness of Taco Bell customers. Hmmm. Which is safer? The U.S. drive thru, or sitting in front of la taquería Gomez, where the señora pats out the masa, presses it between sheets of plastic, and prepares each taco with ingredients from her own kitchen, the omnipresent bottle of Clorox keeping guard by the sink?

First impressions of our villages, with their dirt streets, pot holes, chickens in the road, and dogs running free can be off-putting to tourists looking for a meal. But like the children of Israel in the wilderness, people face to face with the peril each day, are scrupulous in sanitation and prevention practices. They think about what goes into the mouth, honor the process behind the meal, and give thanks to the Provider of all. Not a bad diet plan.

1 comment:

Nonie said...

Hi Susan,

Wow!! It sounds like you have had an exciting time. And it is so beautiful there, too. And the mouth is watering!! I went to my friend Norma's sisters house to make tamales, last Sunday. We will have them on Christmas Eve.