Barrio Bravo is where we live. It's a neighborhood in Southeast Chetumal that's actually quite nice so it was surprising to learn it's known as the "Angry Neighborhood". Most people aren't. And then I moved in...
Yesterday afternoon Wifey was settled into the pool "au naturel" and enjoying some rest and relaxation. Being just a screened window away she brings to my attention a hovering quadcopter just above wall height peaking into our little enclave. With neither a .50cal nor a slingshot to unload, all we can do is watch it hover, retreat, return. In short order it starts to descend into the street. That's how I met one of our neighbors, Angel. Angel, who looked to be in his early twenties, was out there operating the remote control while his wife held their young son in her arms.
I introduced myself, asked his name and where he lived, then told him I didn't appreciate the quadcopter peering into my yard and that he shouldn't ever do it again. I smiled the whole while. Unfortunately, I'm not much for smiling and it probably looked more like a rictus than a pleasant, friendly smile.
I'm not one for small talk either and, well, Mexico is really big into small talk. I probably came off as intimidating and even a little scary in retrospect. I suspect the conversation, to him, seemed just a bit too Godfatherly-ish.
Really, think about it for a moment from Angel's perspective. More than 6+ feet and 260 lbs of bare-chested, rictus-grinning Gringo whose space has just been invaded pretty much implies in bad Spanish (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday...) severe retribution for invading his airspace then asks if the lady and child nearby are related to him. Or am I watching too many movies? I'm afraid now if I set a meeting to explain over wine and spaghetti (with finely shaved garlic) that it's business not personal they'll want to go to the mattresses. What have I done? <cue braying donkey sound>
I'm still a triple-digit-midget (if you count the days) but my mid-range calendar is showing my sign-up and receipt date for Social Security checks to start flowing. That'll be a welcome addition to the coffers. From then on it's just a race to see if the SSA budget or the recipient runs out of gas first.
I read in an email this morning that a friend's cousin died. The cousin ate his dinner, went out to mow the lawn, and keeled over the mower. (Sorry, I forgot to ask if it was push, power, or ride-on.) 56 he was. I suppose we don't think about sudden death until we're a bit older. 56 is young. Such a shame. Yet, the rational part of my mind says there are so many incredibly intricate and vital processes that have to happen to sustain life, it's a wonder we exist at all let alone live a fair length of time and often in good health. Of course, such a rational thought provides no comfort for those who are dealing with death or disease. Yet, it helps me. All I ask is that the Reaper take me quickly and not after some long, lingering illness or injury. Better to die healthy, I say.
I'm on Facebook quite a bit. Saves me from spending my few pesos in sports bars drinking cold beer and watching real football (soccer) on big screen TVs. On the Pages front, The Cantankerous Curmudgeon has retired (at least for a while) but Aquaticworlds and PapiSays are still running. I also have two groups going still: The Chetumal Connection and Chetumal Expats. Why two groups in the same place? Well, odd story that.
I started The Chetumal Connection shortly after moving here. I figured since I was trying to learn about the city and stay current on happenings, others might be interested as well. It was always intended to be a resource for anyone interested in "Chet" as we call it so there are folk from several countries including Mexico. Separately, and on a more personable level, there is an informal group of local English-speaking expats that gets together once a month. At one time I tried to tie-in/merge the people group with the Facebook group and turn it all over to someone else to manage. But that didn't fly because I was told there were too many foreigners <grin> or perhaps rather "outsiders" in the Facebook group. To make a long, somewhat confusing story short (and mostly because it's too early to pop a beer and get it all down for posterity) there was general consensus by the local expats that an Chetumal-Only/Expat-Only group was necessary. The Chetumal Expats Group was born. And that's all I got to say about that.
Otherwise, food-wise, and ending-wise... The covering I put over the pork loin to prevent it from dehydrating too quickly had loosened enough that it was time to check progress and repackage to continue it's journey from raw loin to semi-dry saucisson. The loose covering was a sign that dehydration was progressing and I estimate it has lost about 15% of its weight. Another 10 days should do the trick. A few slices were necessary to prove I'm on the right track - and I am! If you've a penchant for charcuterie, here's the recipe:
Saucisson of Pork Tenderloin
from Jacques Pepin
yield: 2 sausages
Saucisson of Pork Tenderloin Saucisson, a dried sausage of the salami type, is usually made with pork in France. There are dozens of different kinds of saucisson in the markets throughout the country, some smoked, some made only with pork, some made with a mixture of pork and beef, and some containing lamb. Years ago in Lyon, a special dried sausage used to be made from a combination of donkey meat and pork.
I have made saucisson through the years, putting the meat in casings, drying the sausages out on the porch or in the refrigerator. I have made them small, long, and fat as well as skinny. When stuffing the mixture by hand into pork casings, there are often pockets of air, and the saucisson gets dark spots as it dries out.
A few years ago at a market in Provence, I saw sliced saucisson that looked like thinly sliced, very lean prosciutto, and I realized that it was done with a whole pork tenderloin. This is what I have been making ever since. It is easy to make, the meat dries beautifully, and it is the leanest dried sausage one can have.
Buy the largest pork tenderloins you can find at the market, ones that weigh a pound or more. I cut about three inches off the tails and sauté these end pieces for dinner. The rest of the fillet should be about two inches in diameter and close to a foot long.
Remove any silver skin from 2 pork tenderloins, each about 1 pound, and cut 2 to 3 inches off the tails, reserving them for another use. Put 1 cup of kosher salt in a plastic storage bag [Note: I used 1TBS Prague Powder #1, or Pink Salt, as a curing agent]. Add 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar to the salt in the bag, and mix well. Slide the tenderloins into the bag, close tightly, and shake to coat the meat with the salt mixture. Refrigerate overnight. After 12 hours or so, remove the tenderloins from the bag, and wipe them dry with paper towels. Rub the meat with about 1 tablespoon of cognac, and sprinkle on about 1 tablespoon of cracked black pepper and 1 tablespoon of Herbes de Provence, dividing these ingredients between the two tenderloins.
Wrap each piece of meat in a cotton cloth to protect it from insects, tie it with kitchen twine, and hang in an area where there is good air circulation, like a cellar with a window that can be opened, or a porch. This is best done in cooler weather, but if that is not the case, place the tenderloins in your refrigerator on a rack where the air can circulate around them. [Note: Mine is on a rack in the refrigerator where it is much drier so I wrapped the pork loins in a dish towel to slow the dehydration process a bit. Seems to be working.]
The tenderloins will dry out in five to six weeks. [Note: closer to 4 weeks] I like them when they are still a little soft, not too dry. Slice them very thin, and enjoy with bread and butter and a glass of cool wine. [Note: bread, butter, wine...who needs saucisson? But seriously, if the saucisson gets too dry you can grate it into sauces or over eggs.]
Excerpted from Chez Jacques
Copyright © 2007 by Jacques Pepin. All rights reserved.