Saturday, February 27, 2010

Festival de Carnaval

So apparently Xela parties pretty hard for Carnival. The festival was about 2 minutes away from my house and on my way to the bus stop. Thus, I was lucky enough to see the dilapidated carnival rides, closed up stands covered in Disney bed linen, and smell day old fried foods bright and early every morning. The carnival rides were a show in themselves; the typical ferris where, merry go round, and other children's rides were there, but they were chipped, discolored, faulty looking, and plain old creepy.

The characters on the kid's rides included Ronald McDonald, some male character from a Mexican tv show with pigtails and freckles, and rip-off Pooh bear with a button down collared shirt, and other strange looking animals. It was an overwhelming and interesting festival with lots of colors, noises, and smells. But lets get to the part that I'm really interested in: the food.

All of the typical suspects were there: hot dogs, hamburgers, eggs & beans, meats, and tacos.

If you look closely at the right upper hand corner you can see some women killing a turkey. Fresh food, eh?

Okay now let's move onto dessert....

Chocolate fruits are an everyday norm offered on every block in Xela. But usually they have chocobananos, pineapple, strawberries, or cake. At the festival they had apples, pears, marshmallows, and pretty much any other fruit you can think of covered in chocolate with either nuts or sprinkles.

There was also sugar cane to chew on, peanuts, lots of colorful candies.

And for my favorite part...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sopa Rica: Aguacate

I stumbled upon some avocado recipes while wandering around checking out the news of the day. I've stayed away from making soups due to a lack of a blender or food processor, but I figured I could mash avocado enough so that the soup would have a soup-like texture. All of the ingredients were easily found on my doorstep at mercado flores. It was easy enough to make yet had a wonderful mixture flavors: avocado, cilantro, lime, queso fresco, and a little spice. I replaced the chicken broth with water since I have not yet found vegetable bullion yet. Here is the link to the recipe:

As a topping I used the fried tortilla and queso fresco suggested, but also added some tomatoes and cilantro. It was fresh and absolutely delicious! I look forward to making it again soon.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

El Dia De Cariños

With my boyfriend thousands of miles away, a virtual date was the best we could do for Valentine's day. Steve had planned on making tomato pie with his mother so I tried to adapt the recipe to what was accessible here in Xela. Here is the recipe:

The main obstacle was my lack of an oven. In place of the crust I molded some masa de harina into a pan. Instead of baking the veggies , I cooked them in olive oil over the stove before putting them into the tortilla crust pan over low heat. I also added a green, pumpkin like vegetable since the only veggie the recipe called for is tomato.

I tried to make a heart shaped tortilla which, as you can see, was a bit of a failure. It's the thought that counts, right? I thought the mayo was a little strange, but the rest was not bad. The tortilla crust turned out better than expected.

This was Steve's version. His crust was definitely much cuter, and flakier. It also looks nice and gooey. He used cream cheese instead of mayo which I wish I had also done.

We enjoyed our tomato pies over a glass of wine and a computer monitor. Not ideal, but it was nice :) Hope everyone had a great valentines day filled with love for themselves and those around them. I miss and love you all!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Desayuno: yogurt de cabra con fresas

Usually in the States I eat the same breakfast: cereal. It is fast, it is simple, and it is yummy. However, here in Xela we lack the variety of cereals I am used to. Thus after my first box of generic Guatemalan corn flakes, I decided to move on to greener pastures. Since I have to be at the bus stop by 8am, I'm not willing to wake up early enough to prepare something that takes work. While buying tomatoes at the market a woman convinced me to buy some strawberries (I'm not a hard sell when it comes to food). I had gone the day before the Bake Shop which is a Mennonite owned bakery where they sell doughnuts, cookies, bread, cheese and yogurt. I love doughnuts. But I figured I should try to be healthy too so I bought some yogurt. I had never tried goat yogurt, so I was excited to see it on the shelf despite the fact that it was double the price of normal yogurt. I also stole some knockoff grapenuts from my roommate. !

Delicious, healthy, and beautiful!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

El Dia De La Pupusa

Sarah, Erika, and I have been on a crazy pupusa kick lately. Pupusas are a food from El Savador which are basically corn tortillas stuffed with cheese, beans, chicharron, and/or loroco (a flower bud). They are made fresh and heated on a grill with a minimal amount of oil. I first fell in love with them in San Salvador where they sell them on the streets and in pupuserias and returned to Xela where I now regularly frequent the pupusa stand in Parque Central (which is greasier and yummier) and the Pupuseria (which Erika and Sarah prefer). It is accompanied by a cabbage salad called curtido and a simple tomato sauce.

Last Saturday I woke up and had the normal craving for a pupusa. Since I didn't have class to teach nor to take I decided to make pupusas. However, since it was early in the morning I didn't want salty so I decided to make a full day of it and make breakfast pupusas in the morning and regular pupusas in the evening. I was quite excited.

The recipe for the dough is simple:

2 cups harina de maiz
1 cup water ( I ended up using a lot more than this but this is what the recipe calls for)

Just mix it together adding water till it is moist and doesn't crack when you form a pancake. Form it into a ball and then make a indentation in the middle so it there is equal room all around and it is thin on the bottom of the ball. Fill with your choice of food. Roll it back up into a ball and try not to allow the filling escape. Flatten it into a pancake.

I started off with mashed bananas, peanut butter, and honey.

The first batch was a bit too thick and dry. Nonetheless, with enough honey it was a good start to the rest of my pupusa day.

After our hearty breakfast we took our weekly trip to Minerva to sift through the Pacas (loads of used clothes from the States for insanely cheap prices). Coming home with the prize of a new dress for 3 quetzales (about 40 cents), I was ready for my second helping of pupusas.

I started off making the curtido:

1/2 head of green cabbage
1/3 cup of vinegar
2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 medium size white onion

I adapted it from a few recipes I found online. Here is one example:

Next I made the tomato sauce. All of the sauce I've had with pupusas seem like a simple puree of peeled tomatoes with salt. The recipe I found was a bit more complex and I love these flavors so I did fancy it up a bit:

In all of the pupusas I put cheese and refried beans, the tradition way. I had 3 types of cheese:a queso fresco I bought in the market, shredded mozzarella, and a crumbly drier cheese from the coast. None of the cheese melted enough for my taste, but they were still delicious. I experimented with different amounts of oil in the pan (I used olive oil, but they usually use vegetable oil) and I personally like the greasy papusas. They were still a little dry for my taste and I wished it had more filling. Although I had a great day, I think I'll stick to Parque Central for my pupusa needs in the future.

Buen provecho!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Curry Tofu & Rice

I just so happened to have the afternoon free last Thursdays and both my roommates were around so we decided to cook together. After chatting for a while we decided to try out some sort of potato curry dish. Then I realized we had leftover tofu we needed to use. I quickly learned my Dutch roommate, Sus, had never had tofu before! So, obviously we needed to amend our plans in order take Sus's tofu virginity. I went about searching my favorite food blogs and stumbled upon a perfect recipe to combine our curry idea with tofu. Check out the recipe:

It happens to have curry, coconut, and tofu! I had to change it a little bit since we didn't have all the ingredients. Instead of coconut milk I ran across the street to get a fresh coconut and we used the coconut water. Usually you can find little boys selling bags of nuts around but we lacked the cashews as well. We exchanged cauliflower for broccoli which we all preferred . The tofu was from a vegetarian restaurant and was very firm and absorbed lots of flavor. It was a tasty dish in all, but because we used coconut water instead of coconut milk it was definitely missing a creaminess. I had some natural yogurt from a local place called Xelac which helped. It was interesting dish in all but I wouldn't make it again without the coconut milk.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Mi Almuerzo: Tacos de Desayuno

Hola amigos! I have officially completed my first week of volunteering! I'm volunteering as a health educator at Primeros Pasos, a health clinic in a Pueblo close to Xela, and taking classes in the afternoon. It allows me to have about an hour to buy food on the way home, prepare it, and eat it. Monday, after my first work day, I felt like breakfast tacos (actually they wouldn't be called breakfast tacos since eggs are eaten at all times of the day here...but anyways). So on my way home I stopped at a little tienda that sold eggs and tortillas, then grabbed some tomatoes and avocados at the market next to my apartment.

I started off with the beans. I diced some onion and garlic in oil for a few before I added red peppers then the canned black beans. While that was cooking I scooped out some avocado and simply added some salt. When the beans were done I scrambled a few eggs up in the same pan and then put it all together with some green onion and shredded mozz cheese.

Nothing too special or unique, but a meal that I think will be typical of my quick lunch breaks. Still very local, fresh, and healthy. How lucky am I!