Friday, November 13, 2009

"It's fruitcake ...", I mean "It's pasteles weather !"

In a "Christmas Memory" by Truman Capote, Buddy's friend, a relative who was sixty something, would wake up on a chilly crisp autumn day and declare, "It's fruitcake weather!" Yesterday, being the Puerto Rican woman, that I am, I basically declared it's time to think of Pasteles. Pasteles are basically a hybrid between Tamales and an Alcapurria. They are made from green plantains and bananas, yautia (called malanga here in Florida), achiote (which is a red coloring seed), olive oil, sofrito for the meat which can be pork or chicken. The plantains and bananas have to be grated, mixed with a chicken broth, and stirred to a "pancake' consistency. Then you start an assembly line, someone spooning out the "masa" or plantain mix on a green banana leaf, then another adds the meat mixture, the next person the olive, and a garbanzo bean, and an optional raisin, the next person folds the plantain leaf like an envelope and passes it on to the last person who ties it like a gift. I always lay my string down like a u on the table, place the pastel and then pass the string inside the loop, then to the side, and up again and tie a bow. Then it's on to the next pastel.

Does it sound complicated? It is. That is why it's better to make it with family and friends. In olden times people, mainly ladies, would get together to do a pastelada. Everyone would chip in grating the plantains, bananas, and yautia and help cook the meat or simply help pay for the supplies and then help out by putting them together. It was fun to sit around a table and talk about life for a couple of hours and take part in making a delicious almost precooked meal. Puerto Rican style "TV" dinners. You see Pasteles are not completely cooked until you boil them for an hour.

This year I think I might be able to do it, not in Puerto Rico, not in Florida, but in Lansing where I am going to meet with my children and grandchildren. We are all excited just thinking about it. I'm already comparing recipes with my friends. Just this morning I spoke to a close friend and she said she used potatoes to soften hers, as well as, just a little bit of "calabaza" or squash. The potatoes seem a bit unorthodox to me. I don't recall my aunts using them at all, but I do recall the little bit of squash. I think I will be test cooking some of these recipes before I venture to make a whole bunch of pasteles, though. Can't wait to eat them off the green smoky plantain leaf.

I'm dreaming of a white.............., digo, I mean, pasteles......... just like the ones I used to know, with the green leaves folded with a stringgggggggggggggggg, and the olive and garbanzos placed within.....

I know, I know, it sounds a little fruity! It is fruitcake weather, after all.

Additional recipes:

El boricua

I made the pasteles after all!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Kristtal Nacht and the Maitland Center

Last night I went to the Maitland Center where they have the Holocaust Memorial Museum. They commemorated Kristtal Nacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass the night before which was the first official event in a systematic effort to erase the Jewish people off the face of the earth. Obviously they, the Nazis did not succeed, but they tried. Six million Jewish lives lost.

Then last night, they had a special speaker speak on "Elie Wiesel and his Quarrel with God," To say it was a moving experience, is an understatement. There is so much to learn. I can't write everything I saw, heard, and listened to while there. The struggle of faith or lack of in a world and in a people who have seen the ugly face of evil straight in the eye. You want to shake it off but you can't. The unspeakable depravity of man against man, against God.

You may not agree, but you understand how others struggle with trusting God again, after so much and so many atrocities done against them. Their struggle to forgive. Their and our struggle to reconcile. You can't begin the process until you understand where their shoes have been.

We have a religious saying in Spanish. Cristo ten piedad. Dios ten piedad.
Christ have mercy. God have mercy.

These are profound topics. It is the struggle of Job and the anguish of Job multiplied in a whole nation. Profound pain that can not be ignored. What is worse is that there are actually people who want to deny that it ever happened. Inconceivable.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Puerto Rico Daily Sun, On line, Woo hoo!!!

Finally, por fin, yahoo!!! Puerto Rico Daily Sun is online, I can't wait to read it everyday!! Way to go Gente! Miche, Felicidades!