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Language school in Morelia


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#1 Jaymes

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Posted 21 March 2007 - 11:57 PM

So, I've decided to spend a month in Morelia, attending the Centro Cultural de Lenguas and just, in general, having a great time.

I'm going to be doing the immersion thing, where, in addition to intensive classes, you stay with a Mexican family.

I did tell them that I'm also interested in cooking, and requested that my homestay be with "a family that cooks." So I'm staying in the home with the cooking teacher.

Boy, I'd love to blog this, complete with photos.

But the last time I said I'd blog a trip to Mexico, eons of time went by with no further word from me. Some folks thought perhaps I'd tumbled from a flatbed railcar somewhere into the most remote depths of Copper Canyon.

So no promises.

:blink:

But doesn't it look like fun?

And I absolutely adore fun.

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#2 SFJoe

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 12:48 AM

Wow. Morelia was such a pretty town. But it's been since before most of you were born that I saw it. I have less fond memories of Uruapan, but they are also less distinct.'

Have fun!

#3 joiei

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Posted 22 March 2007 - 02:43 AM

I expect not only pictures but also daily postings and recipes. Your not getting off lightly with this. Otherwise I will force you to Joplin for dinner again.
"Love ya once, love ya twice, love ya more than beans and rice"

#4 Anónimo

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 07:07 PM

Hola, Jaymes.
We made our first visit to Uruapan on Wednesday. It was more attractive and interesting than some friends had led me to believe. I posted on my blog, "Surviving La Vida Buena", and link to a small album of photos, mostly in the Parque Nacional.
We lunched at the Cocina Económica Mary, Ave Independencia 57. It's just a local restuarant, nicer than the name would lead you to believe, and a large and apparently loyal clientele. The style of food was home cooking, and the price for comida was $35 MXP. Let's see if I can link to a picture of Wednesday's menu.
Posted Image

I wouldn't peg Cocina Mary as a food destination "Worth a special detour" but we had an enjoyable lunch in a pleasant atmosphere with quick, friendly service.
Oh; and by the way, the Sopa Tarasca had a puree of frijol base and a touch of tomato puree. It was the best, outside of of my kitchen, that I've had in years. My wife's Crema de Brocolí was passable but undistinguished. (Remember, we're talking $35 pesos for a a full lunch, including agua fresca and pastel de elote for dessert.)


So, after flying into Guadalajara, hooking up (not in the biblical sense) with Rancho & Cristina & Memesuze, spending ten days wandering the countryside (including a stop at the annual craft fair in Uruapan ), I've decided to extend a month in Morelia, attending the Centro Cultural de Lenguas and just, in general, having a great time.

I'm going to be doing the immersion thing, where, in addition to intensive classes, you stay with a Mexican family.

I did tell them that I'm also interested in cooking, and requested that my homestay be with "a family that cooks." So I'm staying in the home with the cooking teacher.

Boy, I'd love to blog this, complete with photos.

But the last time I said I'd blog a trip to Mexico, eons of time went by with no further word from me. Some folks thought perhaps I'd tumbled from a flatbed railcar somewhere into the most remote depths of Copper Canyon.

So no promises.

:blink:

But doesn't it look like fun?

And I absolutely adore fun.


Buen provecho,
Anónimo

Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán, México

#5 Rebecca

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 08:41 PM

But the last time I said I'd blog a trip to Mexico, eons of time went by with no further word from me. Some folks thought perhaps I'd tumbled from a flatbed railcar somewhere into the most remote depths of Copper Canyon.

You write so entertainingly I figured you had sold all the rights to it and couldn't share because the movie will be coming out next summer with Salma Hayek playing the lead (you) and Paul Newman as your dad.
"I saw them eating and I knew who they were." -Kahlil Gibran

#6 Jaymes

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Posted 23 March 2007 - 08:54 PM


But the last time I said I'd blog a trip to Mexico, eons of time went by with no further word from me. Some folks thought perhaps I'd tumbled from a flatbed railcar somewhere into the most remote depths of Copper Canyon.

You write so entertainingly I figured you had sold all the rights to it and couldn't share because the movie will be coming out next summer with Salma Hayek playing the lead (you) and Paul Newman as your dad.


Well, that does sound entertaining. :D Salma and a crochety old man in an RV bungeed to a flatbed railcar slowly, painstakingly, precariously inching its way across Mexico.

Actually, that's more true than you know. I am often mistaken for Salma.

:blink:

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#7 Jaymes

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:03 AM

¡Entonces, hola, chicas!

So here I am in Morelia, and frankly, returning to school turns out to be harder than I expected. Part of my problema is that I have a teacher that seriously thinks I´m paying him to teach me something. You know, like real school. ¿Whatever made me think this was a good idea? I could have been sitting over in Cafe Europa under the Portales Hildalgo where my wretched Spanish was perfectly good enough to order some cafe con leche, or tequila con sangrito, and where, for what I´m paying to employ this annoying taskmaster, I could have sat for literally weeks watching the world pass by.

Mi profesor and I got off to something of a mildly shaky start, although all seems to be well now. You see, my real name is Christopher. So how many times do you think I´ve heard, "Did your parents want a boy?"

So my teacher says what´s your name and I say Christopher and he says did your parents want a boy?

I chuckle politely and then he says, "My name is Ramses," so I say, "Did your parents want a pharaoh?"

It was something of a nadir in our relationship.

But, speaking of cafe con leche....

It´s my favorite morning drink in Mexico. It´s usually served in a tall glass with a cute little (that seems to be the only kind available here) paper napkin tied around it in the manner of a Starbucks sleeve, or in a tall "copa" or goblet or tall footed glass mug. It´s not available everywhere in Mexico and even where it is, they seem reluctant to serve it to me, as they are accustomed to Americanos prefering "cafe Americano." So if I´m not specific when I order "cafe con leche," what I get is cafe Americano in a cup with a small pitcher of milk alongside. And that´s decidedly not what I want. What I want is the Mexican-style cafe con leche which is some sort of very strong coffee, perhaps even espresso, in the bottom of a tall glass that then is filled with hot milk.

I have a point to this story and it´s that my family also likes cafe con leche. And the way they make it is, if not so wonderful as the cafes, at least very interesting.

Chila heats milk to scalding in a metal pitcher on the stove. Then she pours it into the copa and sets it in front of you, along with a jar of Nescafe from which she has helpfully removed the lid. The idea is that you stir instant coffee to taste into your hot milk. I have to admit that it´s probably not something I´ll replicate once I´m home, but it ain´t bad. To me anyway, it´s better than just instant coffee in hot water, and I think that would be my only other choice as these people don´t seem to own a coffee pot and I don´t think they ever brew coffee.

But now, on to something that truly is wonderful.

Sopa Tarasca

(Before we get into this, I have to tell you that I just watched Chila make it and took notes. I haven´t done it myself and haven´t worked out any of the proportions and Chila doesn´t measure, so basically, I´m just guessing. Also I should add that in another thread, Rancho mentioned "two schools of thought regarding beans." Chila is a Purépecha Indian woman and I am certain has not traveled far, nor read a lot of cookbooks, if any. She does make this soup with beans and I asked her if she knew of anyone that made it without beans. She said she didn´t and that everyone in her village makes it basically this way. Obviously other folks do make it without beans, so her recipe is clearly just one version and not some sort of definitive method.)

I had told my profesor that Chila was going to teach me to make Sopa Tarasca and he told me to have her write a list of things she´d need and for our lesson on Friday, we´d go to the market and buy everything. Which we did. At an absolutely wonderful market called San Jose. The recipe calls for chiles negros. These are dried black chiles. I guess I´m now in the group that I´ve called "chile ponderers" - folks that discuss this chile and that and try to figure out the different names that they´re called in different parts of the world. I´ve asked several times if there is another name for these chiles before they´re dried, but everybody just says that they´re chiles negros and I have no clue if I´m ever going to be able to find them in the US. Also, we bought "laurel" which I figured was bay leaves and they obviously are related, but these seem smaller and softer.

Back to the soup: First, she cooked up a big pot of Flor de Mayo beans. She did it in a fairly common way - picked them over for stones, etc., then washed them, then cooked them, covered in a pressure cooker. She added no salt or anything else. I told her I might not be able to find Flor de Mayo beans in the US and she said you could use any beans you like and that a lot of her friends just use pintos.

When they were done, she took a ladle and scooped out I´d say about two cups worth, more or less, drained and set them aside. They just about filled what my family calls a cereal or soup bowl. Then she put about 3 T of oil in a skillet and sliced about half of a med-sized white onion. She took one of the chiles, removed the stem and seeds, and tore it into some small pieces. She fried the onion and chile pieces on pretty high heat until the onion was beginning to brown. Then she dumped the drained bowl of beans into a blender and added the fried onion and chile. She looked at me and said, "and all the oil" and smiled as if to say, "we don´t need no stinking diet." She added what I´d guess was 1-2 cups of water. She explained to me that she used to use a good chicken broth and still does if she has it, but didn´t have it, so we would add "Suiza" later. I had no clue what she was talking about. Suiza means Swiss, of course, but exactly what Swiss thing we were going to be putting in was a mystery until she pulled out a great big jar of Knorr's (isn´t it? - don´t want to look it up) powdered chicken bouillon. So, after adding the water, the whole thing came to about 2/3rd up the side of the blender. She processed it all until it was smooth. Then she poured it into an average-sized skillet and turned up the heat to let it boil.

She obviously used the skillet to measure, because it was close to full but not quite. So she added a few ladles of the broth from the bean pot (carefully straining it, telling me that it was important that the texture of the soup be smooth) until the liquid in the skillet was close to overflowing. Then she put in a small handful of cilantro, and at least six or seven laurel leaves, and the powdered "Swiss" chicken bouillon to taste. She told me not to add salt, but instead to add the bouillon "a gusto" - to taste.

While the soup was simmering, she took about 8 or 9 corn tortillas (that she had bought this morning from the tortillera on the corner) and cut them into small squares, about 3/4 inch each. She put a lot of oil into a skillet and fried them up to a nice golden color and then, after draining them on paper towels, put them into a small bowl and set them on the table. (She told me she had made more than we needed because we´re having chilaquiles for breakfast tomorrow morning.) She calls them "tostadaditas." At her direction, I bought some Queso Oaxaca at the market and she shredded it and set it aside. She took four or five of the chiles negros (and I doubt I´m spelling that correctly) and removed the stems and then rolled each chile between her hands to soften them before putting them on the comal to toast. After they were toasted, she crumbled them into small bits and put them into a small bowl that also went on the table.

So, it was time to eat.

Into each individual soup bowl she put a handful of the shredded cheese, and then ladled the hot soup over. The bowls with the tostaditas were passed, and we each put some into the soup, and then came the bowl with the crumbled bits of toasted chile negro, which we sprinkled onto our soup. And then, a bowl of sour cream, which we drizzled over all.

I hope I´ve gotten this all correct, as this soup was so very, very good, I want to do it justice. After I get home, I´ll make it a time or two to double-check the measurements, but until then, hope those of you that are interested can get started giving it a go!

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#8 foodie52

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:13 AM

Sounds good. Sounds like you're going to make it for us when you are next in Austin.

Or don't bother coming, OK?

I wonder if the chiles negros are guajillos.

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#9 Behemoth

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:20 AM

[...]she pulled out a great big jar of Herr´s (isn´t it? - don´t want to look it up) powdered chicken bouillon.


Knorr?

Thanks for writing that up. DK's version of sopa tarsaca is on heavy rotation at our house in the winter. Not the sort of thing I would have thought A would go for, but he loves it. This version sounds wonderful.
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#10 Jaymes

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:23 AM


[...]she pulled out a great big jar of Herr´s (isn´t it? - don´t want to look it up) powdered chicken bouillon.


Knorr?

Thanks for writing that up. DK's version of sopa tarsaca is on heavy rotation at our house in the winter. Not the sort of thing I would have thought A would go for, but he loves it. This version sounds wonderful.


Yes, yes...of course...Knorr.... I knew I should have taken just a few extra seconds and googled it. :lol:

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#11 Jaymes

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:35 AM

Oh, and I learned a new word yesterday. Sismo.

Which means earthquake.

:lol:

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#12 Liza

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 12:55 AM

Jaymes, darling, please oh please, keep posting on this thread. I am getting hungry and I just ate. :lol:
“And another thing. You don't have to "move on" either. Not until you're ready. People say, Oh, you should be grateful. They say, Oh, it's time for you to move on. I'm like, What are you, a cop with a nightstick? I'll move on when I'm done playing the blues on my harmonica, thank you very much.

Really, people will tell you all kinds of garbage. Don't believe it.

You don't have to move on until you're ready.”

#13 Rail Paul

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 01:26 AM

Oh, and I learned a new word yesterday. Sismo.

Which means earthquake.

:lol:



Sismo

"When I was lying down, I didn't feel it so much, but as soon as I got up, I felt it," said Sanchez, who stood outside on the sidewalk with his workmates after the temblor. "For our own safety, we got out."

Gurza said there were at least nine aftershocks before dawn, including a magnitude-5.4 tremor felt throughout much of southern Mexico and Mexico City.

At the quake's epicenter, about 40 miles northwest of the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, several adobe houses were seriously damaged, while one person fell inside a factory and suffered minor injuries, Gurza said.

About 200 people in the town of Hacienda de Cabanas were forced to evacuate their homes after the quake broke open containers of chlorine at a nearby water purification plant, local authorities said.

About 100 people from one community near Acapulco were evacuated to a park after a nearby water treatment plant reported a chlorine leak, civil protection official Nadia Vela said.

Power had been restored to most of Acapulco and Mexico City by Friday afternoon, and gas and water leaks were being repaired.

The quake, which hit at 12:42 a.m. local time was felt strongly because it was centered inland and just 18 miles below the earth's surface, the U.S. Geological Survey said.


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#14 flyfish

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 01:49 AM

...then he says, "My name is Ramses," so I say, "Did your parents want a pharaoh?"

Thank you for the best laugh I've had all day!
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#15 cristina

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Posted 15 April 2007 - 01:59 AM

Sounds good. Sounds like you're going to make it for us when you are next in Austin.

Or don't bother coming, OK?

I wonder if the chiles negros are guajillos.

Rancho? Cristina?

They're what people in the States call chiles ancho. Actually, they're called ancho in most places here, too. There's another kind of black chile--oh, never mind. The one Chila used is the ancho.

OK, some comments on Jaymes's long post:

Knorr Suiza Caldo de Pollo (Knorr Suiza chicken broth base) is so commonly used here that it's become all one word in popular speech. You'll hear people say, "Échale tantito knorrsuiza."--just throw a little Knorr Suiza in it. It's much-looked-down-upon by purists, but I have a big jar in my cupboard and use it just like the Mexicans do. If Diana Kennedy is reading this, she is rolling her eyes. In fact, the kind I like best is Knorr Suiza Caldo de Tomate--tomato broth base. I use it more than I do the chicken broth base. The other day I made a meatloaf and threw about a Tbsp in it--it's delicious.

The two schools of thought on Sopa Tarasca are bean based or not bean based. I have what is purported to be the original recipe (given to me a few years back by the purported inventor); that recipe is roux-based.

What I want is the Mexican-style cafe con leche which is some sort of very strong coffee, perhaps even espresso, in the bottom of a tall glass that then is filled with hot milk.

Espresso it is, at the bottom of the glass.

Chila heats milk to scalding in a metal pitcher on the stove. Then she pours it into the copa and sets it in front of you, along with a jar of Nescafe from which she has helpfully removed the lid. The idea is that you stir instant coffee to taste into your hot milk. I have to admit that it´s probably not something I´ll replicate once I´m home, but it ain´t bad.

This is the norm in most places in Mexico. It's the only way Nescafé is even vaguely palatable.

And Jaymes my dear, remember that a copa is for a drink with alcohol. A taza is a coffee cup, and a mug is a tazón.

Also, we bought "laurel" which I figured was bay leaves and they obviously are related, but these seem smaller and softer.

It's definitely bay leaves, but Mexican bay. They're more flavorful than the dried-out leaves that are sold in the States. The reason they're softer is because they're freshly dried, if that makes sense to you. The woven palms that we saw on Palm Sunday come accompanied with a couple of branches of newly picked (not dried) hoja de laurel--bay leaves.

Sismo.

I felt that sismo the other night. Here in Guadalajara, it only lasted a few seconds--like 10. There was little reported damage, even close to the epicenter off the Acapulco coast.

Keep posting, Jaymes, I love reading about your Morelia adventures.
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