Thursday, January 13

Would you Say I Have a Plethora of Possibilities?

When I'm feeling pessimistic it feels hopeless that I could ever make the right choice about what to do with my life, where to live, sometimes even what to eat for lunch. Possibilities are bogs of primordially evil smelling mud that are slowly dragging me down and suffocating me, and worst of all the slow and painful process smells like shit.

Those are bad days. However, it's not always like that and some days I feel feverishly optimistic about all the choices that lie in front of me. Instead of stenchy-mud bogs, it's like I'm back in a Mr. Bulky's sampling their delicious wares, but this time without the threat of getting yelled at by an employee who realizes I'm not going to buy anything. It may still be something that will eventually drag me down and suffocate me, but instead of sludge it's Jelly Belly's, butter mints, gummy fried eggs, and coke bottles.

I think a lot about choices and possibilities over the holidays. There are the unpleasant, stenchy choices; what clothes will keep me warmest in temperatures for which I've grown too soft and wimpy? Why do stores in the US have so many varieties of everything that I stare unfocused at bright colored boxes like someone who has just had a frontal lobotomy? How can I keep living in Mexico when my family lives in the Mid-west, but how can I move back to the Mid-west when my Mexico has no -14º (celsius or farhenheit) and aguacates are $1 per pound?

But then there are those delightful choices that pleasantly roll around in my mind--what non-Mexican food will I be eating for lunch? Which can get a little out of control on its own, because I want everything, but feel confident I can do no wrong. I think about all the things I pine for during the year in Mexico and then I devour mass quantities of them. Blueberries, sushi, barbecue, breads with the perfect chewy crust, stinky and sharp cheeses, and much, much more.

Even with that plethera of pleasant choices, my return to Mexico always has a certain relief to it. The one brand of olive oil, the one lady who sells ginger, the one food option--Mexican.

Of course, there are lots of choices within that spectrum, but the one I miss most when I'm away, that I would happily eat during vacations in the US--the tlayuda. It's huge, it's grilled, it's stuffed with meats, beans, quesillo, veggies, there is talk of lard, it's un desmadre. Yum.

While I've never tried my hand at replicating and it's probably a little cold for grilling, I'm guessing you could use a 400-450ish oven and maybe your lowest rack. Start with a large corn tortilla, dry or slightly toasted, top with black bean puree, quesillo, your choice of cooked meat (it's usually chorizo, cecina, or tasajo--a lean salted beef (my personal tlayuda favorite), chopped cabbage, cilantro, avocado. Fold in half (they don't always fold, but my favorite place does and so you should too) and grill or toast on both sides until tortilla is warm and crisp. Slice in half and serve with salsa, rajas, spicy pickled carrots.

What other choice do you need?