Oh hello. I think I remember you, but I am not sure you remember me. My name is Natalie. I have a past life in New York but I am now basking in the glow of my afterlife in Antigua, Guatemala, trying my hand as a writer. I moved to Guatemala about ten weeks ago, and it’s been quite busy ever since. Here’s a short recap…
1. Fuego Erupted
Okay, I know this happened over a month ago, but there was never quite the right moment to discuss the melting rock in the upper mantle or the lower crust of the earth’s core that created magna, increased drastically in volume, traveled up and spilled molten hot rock out through a conveniently placed gap in the terra firma, holding all the small folk in its path hostage (and luckily, no one was hurt). Truth be told, I wasn’t even in Guatemala for this event. I didn’t even know about it until I got a frantic email from a friend demanding to know my whereabouts and state of health (thanks Will). The picture below was actually taken a week before it erupted, when everyone just thought it would spill. But hey, I WAS here for this, and I didn’t even feel it, so maybe I wouldn’t have even noticed….
2. Jocote came into season
You know what I love about traveling? I am sure you can guess. Eating. Especially things I had absolutely no idea about before I stepped foot off the plane. Like jocote. Jocote is a small, fig-sized fruit that ripens and starts falling from a tree of the same name in late September and continues at least through October, sometimes November if the weather holds. Jocote is a member of the cashew family and the main attribute of the fruit is it contains a large, inedible nut in the center. When jocote is in season, the streets are littered with its discarded seeds dropped mindlessly out of the hands of school children and gnarly-toothed old women as they run hither and thither, going about their daily lives. Once inside the skin, which ranges from emerald green to sunset orange to sanguine red, the fruit is bright orange and similar in texture and color to a mango. Both skin and fruit are edible raw, but it is rumored there is a dessert that involves making a syrup out of the fruit mixed with honey and dousing different confections in it. I shall see if I can whip something up to share….
3. Katie Bode came to town…
…and as my mother said, Guatemala will never be the same again. At least not for me. Because you know what happens when your best friend comes to town? You talk to her. You sit on your porch for hours on end, drinking coffee and delving into everything and nothing at once, all the while thinking in your head, “God, why can’t I feel this happy all the time?”. Because let’s face it, Bode knows me. She is one half of a set of ladies whom I have known for over thirteen blessed and remarkably tough years. She knows I curse too much and doesn’t care. She knows my insecurities inside out, like why I can smell a fire from 300 yards away and why I have such a talent for living a perfectly normal life amid a sea of chaos. She knows I have an aversion to hand-picked wild flowers at large life events and she knows I could never be happy without a fully functioning kitchen. For the first time in ten long weeks, someone was on my porch, sitting next to me, who was saying things like, “Why are you doing that?”, “Is this really what your need?”, “Have you thought about this?” and “You’re fabulous darling!”, which is sometimes all you need to hear, especially from your best friend. I can’t hide from Bode, and that is just the way I like it.
Ms. Bode, you are Simply the Best. Thank you for the visit.
4. I fell in love
Why? Why don’t we all move to France and buy banquettes from beautiful men and bike home with them in our quaint little baskets? W.H.Y?!?!
5. I celebrated National Pork Month (from Guate)
Yes, National Pork Month. A celebration of that “other (more delectable and versatile) white meat”. Thelatinkitchen.com published two recipes from yours truly, and you can follow along at home with Tacos or Guisado. Both are wallet and crowd friendly and primed for a lazy football-ladened Sunday on the couch. Below is the BBQ sauce from the pulled pork tacos, which I have to say, I kind of want to bathe in over and over again it’s so good. But instead, I bottled it in a recycled honey bottle and have pretty much eaten it in one way or another for the last. three. weeks. Soooooooo good.
Well there are you. The last four weeks in a nutshell. I am hoping to be back here more, both with new recipes to try and adventures to share as well as little goodies from other places I write about food or travel or neither. Have a lovely weekend!
Lick-Your-Fingers-Good BBQ Sauce
This recipe was heavily adapted from Ina Garten’s version via smittenkitchen.com. I don’t often feel Ina’s recipes need adjustment, but I was compensating for ingredients I couldn’t find in Guate, like Dijon mustard, and it all went haywire from there. This iteration is devilishly delicious and if you’re like me, you’ll soon be slathering it on everything. (To date: tacos above, kale, mushrooms, roasted carrots, scrambled eggs.) Makes 6 cups.
1 ½ cups white onions, diced fine
2 tablespoons minced garlic cloves
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup tomato paste
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
¾ cup honey
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
½ cup yellow mustard
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
In a medium pot, sauté onion and garlic in vegetable oil over medium high heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Add the remainder of the ingredients to the pot and mix well to combine. Simmer, stirring often, for 20 minutes or until sauce has reached desired thickness. Will keep in the fridge for two weeks and freezes well.