Monday, December 25, 2006

La Noche del Pozole

How we celebrated Christmas Eve

Last night, we were invited to a pozole supper at the house of Santos and Teresa, halfway down the street. Their son, Armando, is married to Emilia, an interesting American woman. They have 2 teenage sons. They are working on finishing the house above Teresa and Santos so that they may move here to live full time in a few years when they retire.

The pozole was cooked in a big, clay olla over a wood fire, on a raised platform in the small kitchen, even though Teresa has a pretty modern stove. Talk about atmospheric! Her husband, Santos, is a weather beaten ranchero, but on top of that, the Abuelito, whose name I didn't retain, was there also. He looks like an 89 year old, Mexican Clint Eastwood. He had the serape and a beautiful, gold-banded cowboy hat. (Unlike the accompanying picture, Abuelito hads no scar.) It was just too cool.

The dining room table was limited in capacity, so we ate in turns. We, the guests, were served first.

The pozole was the thick, red kind, with dark chunks of what might have been beef. Later, a bowl of cooked boned chicken breast was passed around to enrich the pozole.

The accompaniments were chopped onion, coarsely shredded cabbage, and a bowl of coarsely cut Chiles Manzanos, the very hot yellow kind. Armando, caught a stray seed the wrong way and was trying various folk remedies, such as salt, banana and lime wedges to squelch the heat. (I, on the other hand, was careful not to eat any of the black seeds and was fine.) Paquito, a 9 or 10 year old boy, took a dare from his American cousin too eat a little piece, then went running outside to wash out the heat from the pila (outside tap). They jokingly told him to go outside and lick the dirt!

Emilia gave us White Zinfandel when we arrived, from the vineyard in South Carolina where she works. Then we had champurrado, a mildly chocolate form of atole, the corn-thickened and flavored hot drink popular night or for breakfast. It was pretty good, until it started to set up like pudding in our plastic cups. Susie and I brought freshly baked Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Rugelach and some wedges of Panettone. Oh, and a neighbor or another relative came with a plate of buñuelos in syrup, which looked not so unappetizing to me. Imagine gefilte fish jelly chopped finely over well-browned matzo brei, except that this is a sweet dish, not at all like my description. Susie tried a little, but I passed. She reports that "It was definitely sweet."

We left at about 9:50, thanking our friendly hosts, walked home and
at once fell into bed .

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