Wednesday, October 28

Monday Market Mysteries Part II

I thought the world had become a safer place. I thought I could stroll safely through the market without some unknown nemesis lurking beneath the lettuce, mangoes, and beets. I thought with the evil chayote locked away all was well. I thought. . .wrong.
A new blight has descended upon the peaceful market scene. One who feeds on a well-known market dweller, mutilating her shining, golden features into a monstrous distortion of leprous black and grey boils.

The worst shock came when I realized I knew this villain. Hiding out in Oaxaca she's passing herself off as
a seasonal delicacy and going by the name huitlacoche. But I'd recognize her monstrous features and fiendish ways anywhere, she once pillaged my mother's garden, torturing my siblings and I with here cruel, sadistic exploitations of the sweet corn patch. We called her corn smut.

No joke here, huitlacoche really is the same thing as corn smut. It is probably the food that has intrigued me most, probably because of the disgust it provoked in me as a child and never thinking of it as something edible or delicious. I've been wanting to try it, but haven't gotten to it yet, maybe because it is a little bit terrifying. Bugs, worms, intestines, feet, are all a little intimidating too, but never presented the same problem for me, because I've always had a special loathing and skin crawling reaction to mold. Huitlacoche looks like the most sinister mold I've ever seen, like something that could only be spawned by damp, festering gym socks with mayonnaise on them or something. I mean, grey/black, tumorous looking growths don't exactly spark the confidence that crispy red chapulines do.

That being said, I've still been eager to try it, so I bought some at the market two weeks ago and asked the secretary of the English department, the all-knowing Flor, how I should prepare it. She recommended blending it with garlic and chili, then frying it and using it in quesadillas. It sounded promising, but I've uncovered a problem with foods that look rotten; they rot on me. It has happened twice now. The past two Monday's, I've sought it out at the market, excitedly bought it, and had to toss it out a few days later.

Another problem has been October's pressing social schedule. This is also where I'm laying responsibility for my infrequent blogging. There was The Battle of Miahuatlán festivities to kick off the month and ongoing town or school events all month, culminating in Day of the Dead this weekend. It's been fantastic, but I haven't been doing a lot of kitchen experiments. I've been doing a lot of quick visits to papas or taco stands before the evenings events commence. One day soon, however, I will either conquer huitlacoche myself, or eat it at an establishment that has better produce management skills than I do.

I leaned slowly back in my chair slowly shaking my head. Huitlacoche had slipped
through my grasp yet again.
"You've won this round, Huitlacoche, you devilish little smut" I muttered, narrowing my eyes at the gathering darkness "but I'll will devour you yet," I added with a slight smile while lifting an icy Bohemia to my lips "oh yes, we will meet again."

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