Learning locally

Last week, I had the privilege of tagging along in the kitchen while our friend Coqui made tamales for her Friday night special.

Starting to knead in the quart (!) of lard

Starting to knead in the quart (!) of lard

Starting with four kilos of fresh masa, we went through how to prepare the dough; whipped up different batches of meat–one chicken, one pork; and assembled and steamed over 80 tamales for her restaurant’s dinner service. She also gave me a quick tutorial on how to whip out tortillas with a press and quick hands (something that will take years of practice to really master), and showed me how they make their incredible barbacoa.

Chicken to the left, pork to the right, deliciousness everywhere

Chicken to the left, pork to the right, deliciousness everywhere

DSCF3605It was a pretty exhausting morning. Once upon a time, I used to spend 12-hour-days churning out food in a commercial kitchen; but cruising has made me soft, and my fingers have lost that asbestos hardness that let me manipulate food on the griddle without pain. Coqui has no English, and her Spanish is fast and idiom-filled. Her techniques are not easy to replicate on our boat, either–a blender is crucial, and we don’t have one. But the whole day was amazing, learning both the recipes and how they operate their fonda (casual restaurant), and when we’re feasting on tamales back in Wisconsin, we’ll be remembering our time in La Cruz.DSCF3606

One Comment on “Learning locally

  1. Waiting here to read others’ comments and questions. I want to hear further details on the lard. Back in my Cuban childhood, lard was used; but that was in a different galaxy about a zillion years ago now…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *