Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Dinner Party

Lisa, Gordon et al (I usually refer to them that way, or as the Gordons even though that’s not their last name, but for a while I didn’t know their last name, and now I don’t know how to spell it…) have been so kind to us girls. They’ve taken us out for meals a few times, and surprised us with some gifts recently! A bucket with clothes pins, tons of matches, a flash light, battery and almonds. All essentials :) You can’t buy almonds (or any of my favorite nuts) in town, power outages are pretty common, somehow none of us made it down here with flashlights, we needed a compost bucket, although I’m almost positive the bucket was for the pila and you can never have too many clothes pins in this dryer-less community. Then they brought us a loaf of homemade banana bread! Their neighbors are always bringing them gifts of produce, and they said they can’t keep up with all the bananas! We assured them we knew a place that was accepting donations, and they said we might just get a banana delivery one day soon. I have my eye on the papayas growing in their ‘hood…

Great people, so we had them over for dinner and it was so fun! Gordon had mentioned how much he likes tilapia, which is very easy to come by this close to the lake, so we talked about cooking up some fish. Linda, the Mexican’s wife, told me a great way to bake the fish and we were all excited to try. You sautee tomatoes, chiles, and onions, place the fish inside the leave of this plant that grows here, (the leaf has a sort of licorice taste—hard to describe but it gives a neat flavor) top with the veggie sautee, fold the leaf bake over, wrap in foil and bake until cooked. Well, we had a long day and were not up to cooking that many fish filets. So we let Linda cook them for us instead! It was such a hot day, so we figured it would be rude to our guests to get the kitchen that much hotter before their arrival. Not to mention fish smells funny when you fry it. We did three fried and three baked; they came with tajadas (plantain and/or green banana chips) and she was out of chimol (pico) so she gave us this huge thing of steamed broccoli with carrots and a plentiful portion of salad! She even gave us some flowers (champus [chahmpoos] that look like plastic, brightly colored pine cones) and a big plastic jug to use as a vase, because Linda and Armando spoil us :) We snipped some flowers from the yard to add to the display, and Irene did a great job of arranging everything on the table. The “vase” wasn’t very cute (empty mayo jug) so I slid one of my Aunt Jane bags around it! 

We of course felt bad having a dinner party but not actually cooking anything, so we whipped up a big veggie sautee when we got home. Lisa loves pataste, so we cooked some of that with garlic, onions, green pepper, green beans and a little sofrito. Irene even made frescos de jamaica which everyone loved. We had quite the spread, but man was it tasty! Everyone raved about the food.  When we were putting everything out Lisa said that it was better than a restaurant! The fish was cooked whole, and when I was putting them on the plate my finger slipped right onto an eyeball and I think I could have dropped the plate. I of course regained composure, but ew. We had little bowls on the table to use as graveyards for all the fishie bones. 

Halfsies on the baked/fried! Irene and Maryann each gave me a  little of their fish, and it was yummmy. I was pretty much tajada and veggie obsessed. Had to save room for dessert :)
We stopped for pastries on the walk home from market and of course each got one for a snack on the way home. It wasn’t embarrassing until we walked by Oscar and waved, and I had to respond to his “Que tal?” with a mouthful of sugary dona. I really wish we could have gotten a picture of the three of us weighed down with all the food, plodding home from the market, each with a pastry in our hand. We had dessert and Gordon and I had coffee, and we sat and chatted for a while after dinner. They’d brought some games but we spent too much time talking and it got too late to play. Chantelle tossed out the idea of doing a game night next time we get together, and either doing a simple dinner (like baleadas :) or starting much earlier!

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