It’s a blessing to like “peasant food” when you’re preparing to say goodbye to your jobs and move to Mérida. Today for Sunday supper, which we eat in the early afternoon, I found an old Cooks Illustrated recipe for French Chicken in a Pot, which you cook low and slow in a Dutch oven. The skin comes out slimy, but we’ve resolved to stop eating the fatty skin. I slipped in some carrots and potatoes. Paul wanted some Puerto Rican-style beans and rice on the side, and since I had an early start, I had plenty of time to shake even more pots and pans and try to remember the methods his niece showed me years ago.
I’m picturing life in Mérida to be something like today. Some puttering, reading, and some income-producing work, but also plenty of pots and pans rattling as I endeavor to cook, and eat, more consciously. We don’t intend to grow old and fat in Mérida. Well, I guess we can’t help getting older, but by God we’re not going to let panuchos force us into XXL guayaberas.
I’m banking on having (1) more free time and (2) improved proximity to locally grown/raised/cultivated food that’s affordable and healthy, in a land with a year-round growing season.
Today’s supper centered on a Purdue roaster, Goya canned beans and rice, and veggies all bought at the wholesale club, which sources produce from Mexico, Guatemala and the U.S.. I also bought a bottled smoothies, some Pom and some organic orange juice, which may not be slimming, but boosted my energy. I’d probably want to make smoothies from scratch in my Casa Nana kitchen, no? And if we’re buying local in Mérida, I wonder how products will differ. Scrawnier chickens and fatter lemons? That’s what I’ve heard, assuming I’m able to avoid provisions that come from factory farms. Does this mean I can’t shop at the Walmart?
Last night we discussed Mérida menu planning. I recently gave up making my own salad dressings, just to save a little time in the kitchen. Cooking dinner weeknights after a long day at work can be relaxing, but sometimes it’s stressful, and “hitting the bottle” has become a lazy shortcut for me. Looking at the ripe avocado on my plate, and thinking how abundant and economical they will be in Mérida, I considered how they might be mashed into salad dressing. Ignoring the hundred-plus cookbooks in my pantry, I Googled some recipes and immediately found a vegan Green Goddess dressing that I clipped into Evernote for future reference.
We still have so many decisions to make regarding our kitchen. Cooktop or range? Maytag or Mabe or (do I dare) Coriat? Marble or butcher block? Open shelves or cabinets? We have decided that the kitchen will be a place where I rediscover my love of cooking, a hobby pushed aside by other priorities. It will kill the tedium of long days with nothing much to do, and help us with our goal of rediscovering yet one other thing: our 32-inch waists.