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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Mexico Living - Centavo’s Two Cents: Holiday Cooking


Centavo’s Two Cents – Holiday Cooking
By Centavo

For the first time in months, I went back to the States to celebrate the holiday season. I hated to leave San Felipe for this trek, but family obligations headed me towards Phoenix and the aroma of turkey and ham. I knew I would be witnessing the gastronomical procedures necessary for these events . . . and would be face to face with the unidentifiable (when they are stored) kitchen utensils that would create our family meals. The whisk, apple corer, melon ball carver, double broiler, potato masher, herb scissors, strainer, blender, peeler, food processor, bread maker, garlic press, juicer, meat thermometer, cheese grater and egg yolk separator would be asked for, found, and passed around like surgery tools. Could I find them? And how could we get the turkey out of the roasting pan without the thing-a-ma-jig that lifts it out?

My mother and grandmother cooked during the Great Depression. Cooking or baking was a daunting task, but they could make a delicious meal for twelve with hardly any ingredients. So . . . I was never willing to compete with that. But I could get things that they needed when they were cooking . . .

“The turkey is ready to come out of the oven. Where’s the turkey lifter?”
I am below in the innards of kitchen cluttered cabinets looking for the thing. “Where is it?”

“It might have fallen behind those serving trays.”

“Nope,” I say, as the trays slide to the ground like timpani drums. The noise barely repositions the football viewers in the next room.

In San Felipe, I wanted a kitchen like the one that I saw in the movie Frida. I could cook like Julia Childs in my hacienda with ingredients pulled from the local fields and farms. The farm and produce would come to me by way of San Felipe street vendors. Exquisite vegetables and luscious fruit eventually tumbled into my truck and made my refrigerator look like a Renaissance still life painting!

“Look in the cabinet above the stove. There’s a stool in the pantry.”

“I can’t seem to find it. Do you remember the last time you used it?”

“The last time I cooked a turkey. Merrillee . . . help her find the turkey lifter, will you?”

I was obviously failing at this task, so I began to hunt for the olive tongs that were mentioned. Surely they were in a kitchen drawer somewhere.

All I wanted was a thermometer for my propane stove in Baja when I arrived at a kitchen store in Phoenix that was going out of business. The utensils and gadgets in the store overwhelmed me. I stared at the displays in disbelief as I imagined myself looking for half of them next year.

In San Felipe, I was minimizing my possessions. My kitchen already had the successful New Year’s Resolution of keeping things simple.

No one saw me lift the turkey out of the pan with a serving fork and spoon. I smiled like a Cheshire cat as it embellished the dinner table.

“Where are the gravy boats?”

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