Friday, March 30, 2012

The Bee and the Pozoles

Bees are highly evolved creatures,

with intricate social structures,

they build complex buildings

they have elaborate systems to collect, store and distribute resources,

yet they are defeated by window panes

I was sitting on the front balcony of our little casita

the balcony overlooked the beautiful Bay of Banderas

thick foliage of palm branches, banana trees and vines partially obscure the view.

there is a high wall dividing our house from the neighbour’s.

covering the wall is a thick tangle of vines

decorated with large, open, purple flowers

which may or may not have been morning glories.

I was sitting on the balcony of our little casita

coffee in hand, watching a honey bee.

The bees down here are much bigger than we have at home.

This one had the body of a honey bee, but was bigger than our native bumble bees.

I watched her as she flew from flower to flower collecting nectar

she would approach a flower, give it a sniff,

If it was a good one, she would crawl in and drink in the sweet nectar.

only one in about every five blossoms was good enough for her.

I know from school that she would then take the nectar back to her hive

it would be stored in wax containers that other bees had built

the nectar would be sorted, stored and distributed as needed

I know that there is an intricate social structure

which is rigidly maintained to preserve the hive.

I am thinking about this as the bee flies through a wide open door into my room.

When the bee turns around, she bumps into a clear window pane.

She keeps bumping and buzzing into the window pane trying to get through

less than 3 inches from where she is flying, there is a wide open door

which would allow her to escape.

yet this bee keeps hitting the clear glass

not understanding what she is hitting

not understanding how to get away.

Bees are highly evolved creatures,

with intricate social structures,

they build complex buildings

they have elaborate systems to collect, store and distribute resources,

yet they are defeated by window panes

I wonder, if there was someone watching us from a distance

would they think they the same thing?

Would they think that we are a highly evolved species

with a well developed civilisation

with intricate social structures

that builds complex buildings and cities

with elaborate systems to collect, store and distribute resources,

yet we keep flying into a window pane.

Would this observer wonder why we don’t see the window pane?

Why do we keep buzzing and bumping into the same window pane?

I wonder, what is our window pane?

Why can’t we see it?

why do we keep bumping into it, not understanding what it is?

I am thinking all these “deep” thoughts as I go down for breakfast

Bruce has made poached eggs on tortillas with

refried beans and salsa verde.

I offer to do the dishes after breakfast.

As I wash up, I am drafting this piece in my head.

I decide to make pozoles.

I have been trying to think of how to connect the pozoles

with the bee. I felt that I should write about them together, but having written,

I don’t know why they are connected. Maybe it is about how I sort out the panes of glass in my life. No matter what is going on, how stressed out I become or how difficult life gets, I can always find solace in cooking. Cooking is therapeutic. But more than that, cooking is how I work stuff out. Cooking makes connections for me, gets my brain working in different ways, helps me see all the different levels and structures in my world. I am not conscious of it, but cooking is how I think. Maybe making pozoles is how I will see and understand the window panes in my world.

Corn and No Meat Pozoles

I figure a pot of pozoles on the back burner would be a good thing today

we decided we would stay close to home, saving energy to party on the Malecon tonight.

Sunday night is the night when the locals enjoy the boardwalk.

I read the bag of corn for the pozoles, the recipe calls for 1kg corn and 2 kg of meat.

Because we are staying with one vegan and two vegetarians I decide to make a vegan version. The pozoles itself is corn, but not like the corn we know from home. It is hard and woody. It is the type you would grind to make tortillas. It is treated with lime to break it down to make it edible. This corn came in bags, pre cooked, and stored in plenty of the water it was cooked in. This preserves the starch from the corn that will thicken the soup. The closest you will probably find to this in canada, unless you have a really good latin grocer, is canned hominy corn. Feel free to use canned yellow corn, or corn fresh off the cob for this recipe. In this recipe I used a local squash that looked similar to a zucchini, but was considerable woodier. It held up well in the soup. Use zucchini or whatever squash you have available. I used 1 whole ancho and one whole guajillo chilie. These are both fairly mild. Feel free to use whatever chilies you prefer, just be aware of their different properties and levels of heat.

1 tbsp olive oil

4 small spring onions with white bulbs and greens, sliced. (or one white onion)

2 cloves garlic, chopped coarsley

1 jalepeno, minced

2 carrots, slices

2 zucchini like squash, diced

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 dry ancho chile

1 dry guajillo chile

1 kg pozole corn (hominy corn) with liquid

1 litre of water

salt and pepper to taste

lime and cilantro to garnish

  1. in large heavy pot, sautee onions in oil. add garlic and jalepeno. sautee.
  2. add carrots, zucchini and saute some more.
  3. add tomato, corn, water and chilies. bring to a boil.
  4. reduce heat and simmer for an hour, add salt and pepper to taste
  5. serve with lime wedges and fresh chopped cilantro.

A note on authenticity:

As I am writing this recipe, I can hear all the food purists out there questioning its authenticty. There are people out there who feel there is only one right way of doing things. They feel that authentic is more inportant than tasty. This recipe may or may not be authentic, I don’t really care. I am comforted by Bruce Springsteen’s words from his speech at South by Southwest: “We are living in a post-authentic world” “There is no one right way of doing, no pure way of doing, there is just doing.” Having said this, this recipe is as authentic as the recipe of any grandma in any village in Mexico, because like the grandma’s pozole, this one was made with love.