Monday, January 25, 2010

Overwhelmed

I am an emotional pincushion.
Nothing personal.
I've been glued to the telly and the radio, listening to the latest reports on Haiti. Crying.

And in the midst of that tragedy, news that singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle had passed away made for a sniffly Tuesday at work.

It got me thinking about how unsatisfactory work has been lately, and how I wish... for so many things. My mind went wandering, then I read fellow blogger Abi's post of the day: "If you make your only 'goal' happiness then you will find that your dreams grow organically out of that."

So nicely said. Thanks Abi.

I have been in a complete funk all week, and have not been able to motivate myself to do very much. I did make it to the grocery store, though I almost walked out empty-handed.

Do you know that I have never eaten a hard-shell taco? Ever? Tex-Mex joints and fake Mexican food were staples during my university years, but I never had a taco (probably because there were no vegetarian options.) I remember having birthday parties in pseudo-Mexican restaurants as a kid, but nary a taco in sight: lots of burritos, chimichangas, and heaps of fried ice-cream. No tacos.

Summer of '86.
My family was vacationing in California, driving up and down the coast. It was beautiful. The weather was gorgeous. We picked our own grapes. Days at the beach: I wished I had learnt to surf in Hawaii two summers earlier. Somewhere between Los Angeles and San Diego, we drove by a forest fire, the sky dark with smoke, the air thick and hot. The Mojave Desert seems like a shimmering mirage with its sprinting coyotes over hazy asphalt. And the sequoias are awe-inspiring.
We spent a day in Tijuana -not the real Mexico, I know, but I was ten, it was as Mexican as it would get for me. We bought flour tortilla tacos from a street vendor: the beef was spicy and  tender, the tortilla was soft and  chewy. It was so tasty and exotic. They didn't have those in Canada!

So I bought some taco shells at the supermarket. And a head of romaine lettuce of unknown origin. I remembered that I had some avocados in my fridge, and a few garden tomatoes left (yes!!!! survivors from my garden! little nuggets of summers slowly ripening on my kitchen table.) I also picked up a tub of sour cream - I think it was the only local product in my basket, a bit embarrassed to admit it...


The guacamole was really basic: avocados, chopped and partially mushed; lemon juice; yellow pear tomatoes, quartered; salt and pepper; some chopped chipotle in adobo that I found at the very back of my fridge; chopped green onions, and cilantro of course.

By the way, autumn to late winter is the season for avocados in the Northern hemisphere. Granted, they are not local to Canada nor to northern US, but the Californian and Mexican harvests of different varieties are in full swing. Florida's crops will be a rarity this year as avocados do not appreciate the freezing temperatures they had recently.


The 'meat' was slivered, extra-firm tofu, sautéed with ground cumin and coriander, chilli pepper flakes, salt and pepper, slivers of red onion, some more chipotle for good measure, and finished off with chopped cilantro.

Ideally, the tofu would have been fried until crisp bits formed on its edges, but I was getting impatient and very hungry. Cumin and coriander are appetite openers, their heady aroma just tickle your nostrils and call to your stomach. Your mouth waters despite itself. My stomach is grumbling just at the thought.

Chop the lettuce, stir the sour cream, think about grating some cheddar, but think otherwise... too hungry.

Crunch, munch, mmmph.

All in all, it was a good first experience, but someone has to explain to me how one goes about eating a taco without making a huge mess.

Bon app'!


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