Monday, August 27, 2007

Latina Wannabe

My next door neighbours are from Puerto Rico. They live in their garage! (Well, not quite, but their garage is set up like a studio apartment, complete with entertainment unit, table, sofa, kitchenette, gas stove and a bathroom. They spend a lot of time in this garage. Don't ask me why, I've given up trying to figure it out.)

My Puerto Rican neighbours love our kids and take any opportunity to come and say hello to them, or call us up to the garage to hang out for a few minutes. Miss E had taken to calling their home 'my little granny's house' and so we have christened my lady neighbour 'Abuelita', and she is thrilled.

Recently, on a visit to the garage, we were sitting chatting, me using my best 'Spanglish', and Abuelita using her best 'Espan-english' and as is our form, we manage to bumble along in some sort of conversation, assisted periodically by sign language of sorts, or as a last resort, interpretation from her husband. I heard her mention 'sofrito' - a culinary seasoning I had only just recently read about on Flamenco Mom's blog and I was intrigued and asked more about it. Next thing I know I have an appointment made to appear at Casa de Abuelita at 11am the next day to learn how to cook with sofrito!

With Baby J in the stroller, (to contain him), and Miss E armed with her bubbles - (to keep her occupied, didn't work), we set off for my cooking lesson. Abuelita chittered away her instructions in Spanish, while her obliging if reluctant husband stayed nearby to translate anything I couldn't figure out.

An hour later, despite having practically melted standing by a gas stove, in the semi-outdoors in 96 degree heat we sat down inside the house, to a lovely lunch of rice with vegetables and meatballs. Since these neighbours spend so much of their time in the garage, the inside of their home is immaculate and furnished with very expensive looking, elaborate, white furniture. So while the lunch was tasty, it was far from a relaxing meal as I anxiously watched Miss E drop pieces of yellow rice on the place mats, and periodically take off to explore the rest of the house.

My attempts at exercising anything resembling parental control over her were futile and culminated in my having to physically remove her from Abuelita's master bathroom walk in closet! But they love her, so they smiled sweetly and said 'no es nada' (or at least I think that's what they said?)

Abuelita has given me a package of her homemade sofrito to use at home and I will be making another latin dish for dinner tonight - Carne Guisada. Curious about other recipes using sofrito, I googled sofrito and turned a great recipe up for what is essentially beef stew. Now, Irish people take their stew seriously - but I'm looking forward to having some with a little latin flair tonight. If it turns out good, it will be another string to my culinary bow, and something else to offer visitors and fool them into thinking I'm the next Delia Smith!


Kimberly said... sure to share the recipe, eh? I'm a stew lover myself (must be my Irish roots, right?).

wornoutwoman said...

Please share the recipe! It sounds good!

andi said...

My neighbor lives in his garage too - well it seems like he does because he's always watching TV out there. I think his wife sends him out there because she can't stand him. And I've never once seen him make a tasty stew.