Sundays Are For Spanish: Foodie or Not?

As I sat and pondered my garden this morning, my stomach growled. Coffee just wasn’t cuttin’ it. I’m not a big eater and never have been. As an adult, I’ve barely managed to make it over a hundred pounds, except for during pregnancy. It’s partly genetic, partly my diet. I love my fiber, yogurt, and a good pasta but I don’t usually think about food for enjoyment. My husband, on the other hand, who is Mexican American, is almost obsessed with it. We often talk about what he’s eaten on the road. We fight about it when he’s home. But our best memories are in the kitchen, laughing about the cow tongue tacos we tricked my mother into eating, making tamales for the first time, watching our son spit out barely picante salsa.

Now, being a white person, and this probably won’t surprise many people of color, I haven’t grown up with a love for food. No one in my family is a “natural cook” or particularly likes the ritual of preparing, serving, and eating a hot meal with family or friends. I don’t want to make generalizations about any group of people, but take what you will from this. Nevertheless, I’m no “foodie.”

I’d like to say that I can cook. But I’ve had to study it and am constantly asking my husband, who cooks without fear or hesitation, for advice. However, planning and executing a meal is, in my husband’s opinion, my responsibility. El machísmo of my husband’s culture is something I have had to adjust to, but its present in any man’s ethnic background, so, whatever.

I started cooking and though I’m not always interested in eating, (a necessary, biological process for me) I’m always friggin’ hungry now.

My husband makes the best guacamole, carefully cubing the fresh avocados (not homegrown) rather than scooping it all out and mashing everything together. He leaves in the pit because it helps to keep it fresh. This guacamole casera takes a bit longer to make, but he does it for me because he knows I love it.

Maybe I’m enjoying this food stuff because I’ve achieved a pretty good tamal (aka tamales). The secret to the success of my tamales is a mystery to me, but it might be because I mix the maza (dough) by hand (por mano), something my husband insisted I do. It helps to make your own chicken broth, too, but I’m really no expert.

I think you can learn a lot by accepting and living with people of other backgrounds or cultural upbringings (I won’t call it “race” because there’s only the human one). Most important of those lessons being to eat with your family (familia) and cook something once in a while. Whatever the case, I’m lucky to be where I’m at, to have learned what I can.

And all that other inspirational jazz. I’m off to eat.

This is an upcycled post, meaning if you’ve seen it before its because it was published before. I may have edited or changed parts or all of the original post.

Eggs for Breakfast

As someone with a sweet tooth, (it may be more like the fang of a saber-tooth tiger) I love breakfast. There is always syrup, fruit, sugar, butter, and my life’s essence: coffee. Cooking breakfast has its challenges, however. The pancake bubbles never seem to do what the packaging claims they will, bacon is a splattering mess, and omelettes require chopped ingredients.

Eggs have become my go-to breakfast. Eggs are relatively easy (after you learn a few important tips) and there are several ways of making them. Before I begin, I will say this: don’t ask about poached eggs. My mother has sworn to me that they can be made in the microwave, but more eggs have exploded in my microwave than I care to admit. Terrified of third-degree burns, I say “Poach your own eggs.” Poaching an egg is an enigma to me, and hardly worth the trouble.

On the other hand, anyone would eat my scrambled eggs. They’ve caused fights between my son and my nephew, a child that has refused scrambled eggs many times in the past. Here are the tricks:

  1. Buy cast iron. Seriously, it works like they say it does. There IS care involved, so don’t buy cast iron if you’re not ready to work. Cooking with cast iron also takes some practice because the heat distribution is different than the frying pans we’re used to. I bought my favorite from an antique store, but there are many on the market that are well-seasoned and not too heavy to carry. The particular cast iron that I use for eggs (I have several cast iron pans, including a dutch oven from Holland) is small and well-used. This brings me to another important point: I only use the egg pan for eggs, and my other pans for searing or frying meat. Now that we have discussed the means of cooking, here is how I do it.
  2. You may have read that oil is needed to cook eggs. This is entirely correct. I don’t use butter because it always burns the eggs. Fill the bottom of the pan with oil and wait for it to heat. I watch for the smoke or pass my hand over the pan to feel for the heat. You may be thinking: that’s a lot of oil. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and you shouldn’t have to worry so much. When everything feels hot enough (Cast iron does get hot, so be careful), you can toss in your eggs. Everything should sizzle, a sound I’ve come to love because it means I’ve got the temperature right.
  3. Now, I’ve been forced to learn to cook eggs sunny-side up. This is my least (after poaching) favorite way to cook eggs. This is the only way my husband likes them, however, so I have practiced to the point of near-consistency. To cook eggs with an unbroken yolk on top, follow the steps to follow. If you’re ready for scrambled eggs, follow your process for those and continue on (I don’t add milk or cheese to scrambled eggs, only salt and pepper. However you do it is just fine, I’m sure).
  4. Anyway, once your oil is HOT (heat is even more important for eggs sunny-side-up because you want a nice “sear” on the bottom of the egg. It won’t be flipped so your egg will cook from below), crack in your eggs. One side note: crack your eggs in a separate bowl, please. You can fish out shells that way and it’s not so messy on the stove-top. The eggs will sizzle for a time. Have some patience and watch for the white part to turn opaque. To keep that yolk from breaking, put down the spatula and use a spoon to baste the yolk with oil from your pan. Sprinkle black pepper on top and, once you’re sure the egg white is cooked, carefully remove from the pan. That’s it. It has taken years for me to perfect my eggs, but that’s all there is to it.

There are a few other pieces of advice that I have. One, eggs should be served with something, so start toasting bread when your eggs go in the pan. Two, omelettes are much easier if you use pico de gallo from the night before. Three, clean-up is something that I think, especially with eggs, should be performed throughout the task of making breakfast, so put your bowls containing raw egg into the sink as soon as you can. Finally, eggs are tricky and these tips don’t ALWAYS work. Sometimes the oil isn’t as hot as you think, or a slight breeze breaks your carefully guarded yolk. Life gets in the way too, and she’s not a good cook. Once, black peppercorns spilled into the entire pan of eggs I was making when the top of the grinder broke off. Another time, the salt turned them wonky. Still, eggs are good, easy fun for breakfast.