11 March, 2015
Bienvenidos a México!
We arrived here in Mexico about two weeks ago and are adjusting fairly well. As soon as we boarded the plane leaving the United States I felt the shift.
Flying Volaris (which has been called the Southwest Airlines of Mexico) meant flying with mostly Latinos returning home for one reason or another. On the plane people spoke across aisles and to those next to or behind them, striking up casual conversation and sharing tales. We let SquishNom run up and down the aisles to let off steam and men and women alike smiled, reached out to him, and engaged with him. No scowls or judgmental glares.
In country it has been more of the same. We’ve had cafe owners pick him up and carry him around, entertaining him while we enjoy a bowl of pozole. Waiters play with him, people on the street come up and pinch his cheeks or reach out and touch his head as they walk by. Should he be running around in a lonchería or a plaza and trip or fall many hands of the community reach out to catch him or pick him up before we can get there. All the children belong to the community here and all the children are valued. It is a beautiful thing.
Despite not having our community, the mother tongue or friends around us I feel more relaxed as a parent simply because I can let my child run around more here. It is acceptable and expected that children will be children. I don’t need to fear CPS being called if my son is 30 feet away and there is not a helicopter parent hovering. There are no vigilante mommy groups staring down their noses at me because he shrieked in excitement, has snot all over his face, or is running around a public place like the toddler that he is. The looser reins here are marvelous for him as well.
I immediately began sleeping more deeply and dreaming again. The stresses we have over procuring noms and asking for directions are overall minor and my mastery of Spanish is greater than I presumed (for which I am most grateful)!
That said, procuring noms has been more of a challenge than I would have expected. This is mainly due to the sheer number of adjustments we are making right now – learning a new town, language barrier, limited transportation, less oxygen to the brain (we are at 6500 ft), and a different culinary palette. Inland Mexico is pork and grain heavy, with vegetables being used as a garnish and coming predominantly in the form of salsa and chiles. The food sanitation issue is very real and makes one less excited to order a big salad at a restaurant or bring home loads of produce. While I have the means for preventing and treating foodborne illnesses at hand (see previous post), I’m none too excited about the necessity of doing so.
Slowly this will change, I expect. Today at the big grocery store I found some lovely looking spinach and other produce that I brought home to boost our veg consumption. We have a fruit and veg shop just down the hill from la casita and the modest selection there can keep us stocked easily enough.
While I am slow to do tons of cooking here I have resurrected my inner Mexican with carne asada, sope seca, caldo de pollo and salsa verde. The salsa verde was a big hit and one I will share here:
- 12 tomatillos, husks removed
- ½ onion, sliced
- 2 serrano chiles
- 1 tsp salt
- 6 sprigs of cilantro
- Place tomatillos is a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer, 5-10 minutes until soft.
- While tomatillos are cooking, heat a griddle or comal over medium heat. Add the chiles and onion slices and roast until the onions char slightly and the chile skin blisters.
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- Drain tomatillos and put them in a blender.
- Add the serrano chile and half the onions. Blend until smooth.
- Add salt, remaining onions and cilantro and pulse until onion chunks and cilantro are diced and integrated.
- Will keep for up to 5 days.