Having fed the beasts I put off cleaning the front and rear piazzas to hail a cab downtown to Los Milagros for their strong, always freshly-brewed ambrosia. We were only slightly delayed by the many potholes along our route.
The Spanish word for potholes is 'baches'. Sounds like 'patches', making it relatively easy to remember given the end result should they ever get around to repairs. These serious hazards are growing by leaps and bounds with all the rain. Some are quite deep, most all are filled or even hidden by water, and only the most egregious are marked by a branch or advertising sign some good Samaritan has placed to warn others. Detours are common. Even the Chetumal airport is shutdown as I write due to the baches on the runway. Normally there are two flights per weekday, one on weekend days, to Mexico City. Those who need to leave or come to the capitol of Quintana Roo must now travel by car or bus to the airport in either Merida or Cancun. A significant black eye for the local Administration.
So the coffee at Los Milagros fully met expectations, the hotcakes with honey (from the owner's beehives) were filling, and the place wasn't crowded. Not a bad way to start the day after all. Normally I do this in conjunction with paying utility bills as taxi rides each way add significantly to the expense of a leisurely morning. That written, it was worth every penny to get out of the castle and into the real world to enjoy some sunshine. And coffee.
Yes, the clouds have parted and the sun is shining at last. I have some hope that it will continue at least through the day. Enough maybe to dry the rain-soaked grass so that I might mow it down. Tomorrow. Today's my day and it doesn't involve operating machinery of any sort. Well, maybe a corkscrew.
I've started reading the local papers to improve my Spanish comprehension. In one, I must admit the editorial was a little daunting. The first paragraph consisted of 67 words. In one sentence. In another I thought I was losing my attention span seemingly reading the same information more than once in the same story. Turns out that is a style of writing news in one of these mackerel wrappers. Reminds me of the military style of teaching: "I'm going to tell you what I'm about to tell you. Then I'll tell you what I want you to know and will finish by summarizing what I told you." Yes, it was just as painful as it sounds.
A year or so before leaving the USofA, my then dentist told me I needed caps on my back molars to protect my teeth long term. Well, this is the sort of preventive dentistry that makes sense. Perform a root canal on all the teeth, cap them with something stronger than Mother Nature could provide with no chance of cavities or breakage. Obviously I resisted. Some things may make sense but are just wrong. Fast forward to 6 months ago and #2 molar became problematic with a cavity so I had the root canal done in preparation for a cap. US$115 and I was good to go for the cap. Long story short, I pushed the temporary filling to its limit and had a small piece break away. Yes, I fear dental work. Back to a new dentist to see what could be done. The small piece was removed and the next day I had a metal cap installed for US$139. If you look carefully deep into my mouth it might remind you of Jaws from the 007 movie but you'll need a flashlight. Vanity intact and wallet not seriously lightened. Perfect.
A dear reader wrote to tell me how much they appreciate the recipes in my blog. It was a heartfelt note that I enjoyed reading. Food, as we all know, is necessary for life and, because it's a commonality we all share, a way of bonding with others. Only sometimes, that can backfire. Here's an excerpt from the recipe book I wrote for my children and family...
"I've made rabbit a few more times for the family than they even know. Some people just have a problem eating a furry little animal (or worse, Bugs Bunny!) but the reality is rabbit has a very fine taste. Once, long ago, I had a hankering for rabbit. At the time, I was a college student and thought I would impress my friends with my culinary expertise. Ah, but where to find a rabbit? Low and behold immediately behind our dormitory up on a hill was a small farm advertising rabbits for sale. I inquired and the owner showed me a couple of OK rabbits but I wasn't impressed. I told him I intended on eating the rabbit. With a look of surprise that turned to a sly grin he motioned me to the back of the yard. There was another rabbit hutch with some of the finest rabbit I'd seen in a long time. We selected a candidate, exchanged far less than the cost of a pet rabbit, and off I returned to my dorm room.
Everyone, my then girlfriend included, took a liking to Peter. After a week of feeding Peter a special diet, I sent him to Valhalla and brought the cleaned and skinned carcass to our planned double-date dinner. That time I made not a stew but a rabbit in white wine and mustard. Very simple. Everyone loved the smell. Near the end of dinner they inquired about Peter. I told them I brought him. It took a few minutes until they realized they were chowing down on and extolling the taste of Peter in white wine and mustard.
Peter wasn't quite the hit I expected. Needless to say, I left that night one rabbit and one girlfriend less. But what a meal!'
1 2-4 lb rabbit, cut into serving pieces
1/4 lb thinly sliced salt pork cut into 1/4 inch strips
2 tsp finely chopped garlic
16 very small white onions peeled or 1 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 lb small button mushrooms
1 carrot cut into rounds
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
3 sprigs parsley
1/4 cup flour for thickening (use only if rabbit blood is unavailable)
3 cups dry red Burgundy
1 cup water
3/4 - 1 cup blood blended with 1 or 2 TBS lemon juice or vinegar to prevent coagulation
Preheat over to 350
Sprinkle rabbit pieces with salt and pepper, set aside
Drop salt pork in cold water to cover. Bring to boil and simmer for 1 minute. Drain. Cook the pieces until rendered of fat. Remove pieces and set aside.
Add rabbit pieces to fat and brown on all sides.
Add garlic, onions, mushrooms, and carrot. Cook stirring for 5 minutes. Tie bay leaf, thyme, parsley in bundle and add to pan. If blood is not available, sprinkle flour over all and stir to coat pieces of rabbit, else use the blood (see below). Add the wine and water and bring to boil. Cover and place in oven. 45 min for small, 1 1/4 hours for large rabbit.
If blood is used, and if so should have been mixed with some vinegar to prevent coagulation, add a small amount of the hot stew sauce to the blood to warm it. Gradually stir this mixture into sauce and simmer gently, stirring for about 1 minute. Remove the herb bundle and sprinkle the rabbit with the browned pieces of salt pork.