|Turkey tie one on formal occasion|
Every year or so I provide a public service by collecting ugly neckties for use in kids' art projects. Generally, women donate ties they would rather never ever see again around their spouses' necks.
Maybe not as selfless as serving mashed potatoes to the homeless with an ice-cream scoop on Thanksgiving Day, but we all do what we can. This time around we used tongue depressors, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, fun foam, felt glue, and upholstery samples to make our festive formal feast attire for the holiday celebration at school, turkey ties.
And yes, it does tickle when someone traces around your fingers! I was tickled pink when my son invited me to dinner at Cucharamama in Hoboken, New Jersey. The restaurant's name translates as "Mother Spoon". Spoon can have many meanings, but my visit seemed most like cradled, ladled, sampled and pampered.
Gran Cocina Latina : the food of Latin America, by Maricel E. Presilla; photography by Gentl & Hyers/Edge; illustrations by Julio Figueroa
Gran Cocina Latina unifies the vast culinary landscape of the Latin world, from Mexico to Argentina and all the Spanish-speaking countries of the Caribbean. In one volume it gives home cooks, armchair travelers, and curious chefs the first comprehensive collection of recipes from this region. An inquisitive historian and a successful restaurateur, Maricel E. Presilla has spent more than thirty years visiting each country personally. She's gathered more than 500 recipes for the full range of dishes, from the foundational adobos and sofritos to empanadas and tamales to ceviches and moles to sancocho and desserts such as flan and tres leches cake.
I was enchanted just pushing aside the heavy Andean blankets to enter the restaurant space and spy the horno. The blankets blocked the freezing winds slithering into the nourishing, cramped space. Yes, womb and kiva would be apt comparisons. The lighting was low and warm, the space tight but organized. Conversations in several languages circled our party. Dr. Presilla moved through the space greeting diners.
One could spend hours pondering the ripples and waves of the menu, but it seemed best to dive in. Drinks were ordered--Pisco sours and Argentine pinot noir. The space seemed cozier after a few sips, but more difficult to hear or carry on a conversation. I felt hooded in a warm cocoon.
Piqueo is a splendid word for spurring the appetite, to pierce, to prick, to arouse, from woodpecker! The Latin root picus means woodpecker according to the old red dictionary. We sampled fried plantains with garlic butter sauce, and a corn cake topped with salmon roe and a Venezuelan sauce.
Swapping and sampling, we entered the one world/one tummy/om consciousness. We traded bitesies of pizza de chorizo for those of fresh corn tamal with marinated and roasted slab bacon. I loved the Venezuelan Ají de Leche on the Humita Chilena (a milk and cilantro sauce that would taste great on many foods including the Andean shrimp kebabs. Wish I could remember everything, but I seem to have drifted into a happy reverie of family and flavors.
I ordered a side of yuca gratinada. Yuca is cassava, a tropical tuber crop and carbohydrate mainstay. After a long day of bulldog puppy wrangling it is good to enjoy tastes, aromas, and conversation.
You can bet your roots, toots.