Food, Family and Nostalgia

I had written before about my grandma’s taquitos and how much I missed them. Last week was a week filled with nostalgia about my family and food. I longed to spend time with my mom and my sister and grandma and the rest of the family, and as I longed for them, my taste buds began to long for Mexican food.

I love food. I LOVE food. My life in Mexico always centered around food: if we went to a certain part of town, I quickly thought of the best places to eat nearby. Mexican food is so rich and varied that it is hard to get bored. Mexico City also has a good variety of food as well so any craving, whether national or international, can be satisfied.

In the Netherlands, I am learning to cook. I already knew how to cook, but I am learning every day cooking. I am also trying to “spice things up” so that everyday food does not become boring, and I am happy with the results.

I spent Wednesday at a friend’s house and she made a delicious apple pie. Pies are a big thing in the Netherlands, and especially in the region of Limburg where I live. Helping her make the pie reminded me of my grandma’s cookies. Every once in a while, my grandma surprises us by baking something and her cookies are a big hit! It takes here longer to make them than us to fight over them and eat them all. These are the type of cookies that don’t last, and this is not due to the lack of conservatives. They are just that good!

On Friday, I was sitting in “my room” at our apartment and I thought again about those cookies. I knew all the ingredients would be easy to find except one: Crisco. I had already read in different Facebook groups that shortening is not regularly sold in grocery stores. I spent about 30 minutes at the grocery store downstairs looking for an equivalent, but was unlucky. I read all the do-it-yourself boxed baked goods for ingredients and the closest I found was “creamy butter.” Butter is made out of milk. Crisco is made out of vegetables.

At first, I resigned myself to experimenting with this creamy butter, but my need for these cookies did not allow it. I remembered the baking store nearby and headed out hoping to find Crisco….and Crisco I found!

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The cookies came out delicious! Some burned (my grandma’s recipe does not include oven temperature or time of baking so I pretty much had to wing this), but the cookies tasted like home. They tasted like family. They tasted like sitting at the breakfast table with my family, drinking coffee and talking.

By the time you read this post, the cookies will be gone, but the taste of family that these morsels gave me will still linger on.

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Childhood food memories

I remember getting home from school and smelling that the food was ready. Even when I was teaching, I enjoyed opening the door and smelling my grandma’s cooking in the kitchen.  There are many meals that I miss from Mexico, some that my mom made, others that my grandma made and, of course, many that are too complicated to make at home but that a some restaurants specialize in.

Today I miss my grandma’s chicken tacos. There isn’t anything gourmet about this dish; it isn’t even hard to make. You just need to roll up some shreded chicken inside a corn tortilla and fry it to make the tacos crispy. A little bit of cream, avocado and salt (no salsa for me) finish off the plate. When my grandma makes taquitos, the menu is always the following:

-noodle soup with slices of avocado
-fried plantains (with cream and sugar on top)

There isn’t anything special about this meal. It is something simple and quick. Perhaps today I miss the taquitos because she usually made them on Monday. These taquitos give me a sense of belonging and security. The plantains are also delicious. Every time she made them, I complained that she hadn’t made enough, even though every time she made more.

I hope she makes taquitos today even if I don’t get to eat them.