Thursday, January 01, 2009

A New Time

We awoke this morning to a New Year and a beautiful sunny day. Immediately, we prepared the garlic and onions, put them in the beans, and set the the giant pot on the stove. Now as I write, the smells are wafting through out our little house on the zocolo.

We spent the New Year in our little pueblito this year. As usual, the food, the dancing, and the fireworks were all magnificant. Humberto prepared his cabritto with nuts, raisins, onions, garlic, and all other kinds of spices and goodies. Earlier in the afternoon, while we were preparing the dining room and placing the candles, (at least a hundred) I walked into the kitchen to find four recently slaughtered baby goats in four large pans. The eyes of one of them found mine.

Most of us don't get the pleasure of meeting your dinner at that level, but here in the mountains of Mexico, it's rare when you don't. Eating is not some abstract event where food happens to occur on your plate.

Any chicken, or pig, or goat, or cow that you see on Friday night, might well become your Sunday Cena.

The beans we are cooking today are so multicolored. They are orange and purple, and gold. They have little marble like markings on them that make each one of them unique. They were grown in the milpas around the town where they were packaged in unmarked plastic bags. This batch of beans was quite clean, with just a few rocks and pebbles in them.

The ajos come from all over the altiplano I suppose. You see them on sale on the sides of the roads almost everywhere. The onions are white and fresh and juicy and they burn your eyes with the first cuts of your knife. The jalapenos and serranos are fresh, and of course, very hot. Many of the fresh vegetables that we eat everyday, the carrots, the lettuce, the potatoes, come from the small organic farms that surround these mountains.

The avocados for our quacamole are grown down in a canyon just below our village in a place called Los Catorce. It's an easy walk down and a fine work-out coming back up the one lane cobblestone road that connects Real de Catorce with Los Catorce. Estacion Catorce, farther west, is where the gold and silver was loaded and shipped back to Zacatecas, which was founded only about 75 years after Chris talked the Queen into his little cruise.

The bread for our simple New Years day party was baked last night by an Italian who has the corner bakery and coffee shop. He's also making a giant apple streudel for us for dessert.

As the party gets going, someone will bring some Mescal from one of the many small distillers in the area. Tequila is not the only part of Mexico where fine mescal is made.

We'll gather on the patio that overlooks the park and Max and Henry, a fine twosome from Austin, will play and sing as Texans, Mexicans, Italians, Germans, Swiss, Japanese, and a few South Americans gather to greet this New Year with some "good luck" beans.

But this year will be different from years past.

For this year, instead of looking into another year of the geopoliticial abyss, there will be talk instead of the New American President, and the prospect of his success.

And we will toast and make charms to that success.

For this indeed may not only be

A New Year,

but a New Time

for us all.

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