My First Pozole

Unbelievable pride. That is exactly how I felt when I presented Daniel with a Mexican pozole I’d made myself. We know lots of couples that are different nationalities, French and Mexican, Portuguese and British. Another friend married into an Indian family, and we know how proud the Indians are about their food, she wouldn’t dare try and cook Indian for his family. My advice :

“Learn one dish and nail it.”

I’m not big on cooking with lots of ingredients like specific spices, or anything that takes a long time. I like to whip up a pasta salad in twenty minutes max, or chicken and rice with an easy chili sauce. Pozole was a challenge, lot of components and leaving the maize and pork to simmer for over an hour, not to mention an overnight soak.

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It’s not a dish that you can easily find in the UK, London’s Wahaca does a version but that’s the only one I’ve found so far and even that was on the seasonal specials menu, and in fact it was a Thomasina Miers recipe I used. It’s Daniel’s favourite, the ultimate Mom-cooked comfort food. Shredded pork and hominy maize in an onion broth, topped with lettuce, radish and red onion, served with hard tacos, cream and cheese.

There’s not a lot of history about the actual dish available, just a speculation that once upon a time in Aztec Mexico the meat used was actually human after a ritual sacrifice, Nancy Lopez-McHugh at Honest Cooking explains it :

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I wonder if Daniel knows this, and appreciates the blood sweat and tears that went into my first pozole. Ok, his actual answer just now was “Katherincita, you know back in the 80s, it was still human!”

I’ve offered to cook it again – soon – this is the dish I want to be able to cook.

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Two Little Day Trips – Our Search for a Beer Garden by the River

So, British Summer finally came, and we took two little Day Trips out. We do watch quite a lot of history documentaries, about Medieval Kings and warring Tudor families, so we have been trying to discover a little bit of that for ourselves, heading out to old market towns that were once intimately involved with the history of this country.

1. Tewkesbury – July 2013

We drove down to Tewkesbury, it’s not very easy to get to on the train. In reality we went looking for a beer garden by the river but unfortunately the only pub recommended to us was the Wetherspoons which was fenced back to the river, so absolutely no luck with that. And Tewkesbury has two rivers, the Avon and the Severn, so it’s a quaint little town where the rivers meet. P1040459 - CopySo what is lovely in Tewkesbury? Of course it’s the town, it’s small and barely has a high street, but the views are beautiful, we were lucky enough to find a tower tour run by the Sea Cadets, and climbed the tower of Tewkesbury Abbey for a vista of Gloucestershire in its finest. There are two mills that bookend the town, we started by the Abbey and walked down to the Town along the path on the other side. It is most famous for its Battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, where the House of York thrased the Lancastrians in one of the most decisive battles in the War of the Roses and ultimately putting them on the path to victory.

2. Worcester – August 2013

P1040499We got up thinking we’ll go to Worcester. Then sometime during getting dressed we changed to Liverpool but then settled on Worcester. And it was definitely the best idea! Firstly less than a tenner and less than an hour on the train, and it was the Worcester Festival so we had earmarked a few things to keep us busy. There was a craft market by the River Severn, and to be honest it wasn’t as nice as you’d get in Birmingham, a lot of glasswork and knitting but it was nice enough to spend a half hour. We wandered up to the Cathedral, and saw the tomb of King John, (of Robin Hood, throne stealing while Richard III is away at the Crusades fame) and Prince Arthur, older brother of Henry VIII, who died before taking the throne.

The best bit, was a free walking tour themed to the Battle of Worcester (1651), run by the Battle of Worcester Society, we learned about King Charles’ lucky escape through the back of an old Tudor house, and King John’s funeral attire. The Battle of Worcester was basically the one that decided the outcome of the Civil War, and King Chares’ escape led him to France, and in the end back to being King once Cromwell died. The most interesting and British I think, is Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson’s pilgrimage to Worcester, the birthplace of modern democracy and their disappointment when nobody in Worcester seemed to care! We also had a lovely lunch at The Olive Branch, which is in a little alcove next to an old church, and looks like the perfect place for a Summer’s evening drink. Topped off with a ice cream (there was a pub with a beer garden but ice cream won) by the river it was another lovely day.

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Chilanga : Exported

Time to make this blog a little bit more personal. I’ve been living with my Mexican for nearly two years now. And I’m beginning to feel a bit closer to being Mexican myself, it’s a beautiful country, wonderful people and delicious food. There are so many regions, and although I’ve only visited a handful I know there’s so much more to explore.

Let’s start with the Chilango – a native from Mexico City, that’s where we spend most of our time when we are in Mexico, hanging out in the city centre cafés like El Péndulo or day-trips out to Xochimilco and Teotihuacan. Daniel’s family live in the north of the city, so everywhere’s pretty accessible.

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I’m pretty much a stranger in my own city anyway, all of my friends come from outside the city, so there we are all exports, from Mexico, France, Spain, Ecuador, Italy, London, Manchester, Sheffield – I happen to be export by emotion. Birmingham has always been a massive cultural melting pot and I love being in the middle of that!

Job Snob

There’s a lot on the news today about young people being “job snobs”. In such an economic crisis someone with let’s say – a First in History or Biochemistry or even Equine Studies – should be happy stacking shelves or cleaning toilets of the big firms they want the job with.

My opinion is this : If the government think that people who worked for three years at university and got good results are going to be happy in these jobs they are seriously mistaken. I give you two examples.

  1. A girl studies Biology with a year abroad, four years studying and she got a 2:1. She couldn’t find a job in her industry because she was very shy at interviews, she ended up working in Poundland for a year before finding a job in a museum, she’s now studying for another qualification that’s more useful for that.
  2. A girl studies languages, she didn’t want to do the normal language career of being a translator or a teacher. So she gets a second degree, a Master of Arts. Then she’s very fussy and out of work for five months while looking for a job with languages. Finally she gets one in Export at a big company, and loves speaking the languages all day long.

The first girl was a good friend of mine, we lost touch a few years ago. That second girl is me. I was a statistic, one of those millions of people claiming benefits in 2007. Even back then before the crisis I couldn’t understand why the Job Centre felt I would accept a job in a supermarket or a retail shop. I admit maybe I went out clubbing more than I should have, or watched TV rather than made a start on that essay – but I still went to university to study and gain a qualification to help me up the career ladder.

We might be in the midst of an economic crisis, but we need to put the right people in the right jobs. The immigrant fresh from Poland or Lithuania might kill for that warehouse job but his English might hinder him in interviews, or that university biology graduate with no experience might actually flourish with a bit of guidance in that low-paid-but-first-step-on-the-ladder office clerk job in a pharmaceutical company.

RANT OVER…

Apparently in the USA you can live this American Dream, go to college on a “football scholarship”. This I have only learnt from films really, so you can be crap at everything else but good at sport and still get in. I think you have to do two subjects no matter what, a Major and a Minor. That’s what I like about the UK, you can do both equally, I don’t think I could have chosen between Spanish and French. But that’s how you get noticed, it’s the same thing, you want to play football so you play at college. College football is big news in the US, here it’s a rainy Wednesday afternoon at a neighbouring uni. And nobody’s brilliant at it anyway because they actually went to uni for Business Studies or Sociology because they want to run a tech start-up with a few friends, or work in local government.

My next post will be about College Football, I promise!

I *heart* Birmingham

Thirteen days until the start of the UK domestic football season, thirty-two days until the start of the American Football season. I also happens to be 32 days until our holiday in Cornwall, and 137 days until we go to Mexico. So until then I am enjoying Birmingham!

It’s a “grey tower-block on the side of the M6” and “well, there’s Manchester – so what’s the point in Birmingham?”… Both of these quotes came from a friend at university, and I had to leave the room shortly after for fear of scratching her stupid London eyes out. I love this city and I’ll defend it to the ends of the earth.

I’ve added a new page for First and Ten, my experience of this city. Have a little look.

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Birmingham Central Library

Library Art : Lucy McLauchlan Website