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Sadness to Gladness to Gladness to Sadness or…Dear Lord please stop the madness!!!

Glad…

Cooking red kidney beans and coconut rice requested by your sister who is, inappetent and lies dying from breast cancer in a hospital bed.

Sad…

You deliver the goods on the 2nd day of her request and she dies on the third day without tasting a morsel.

SAD…

You do not cook red beans with coconut rice for a long time…

Glad…

…until you decide to make the coconut rice for yourself and buy the red beans subconsciously at Key Food.

Sad…

…when you realize the beans you bought are the red kidney beans you avoided for who knows how long because you have yet to recover from the red kidney beans and coconut rice incident from so long ago when your sister died from breast cancer.

GLAD…

…because your daughter who avoided red kidney beans like a deadly virus, accidently eats the red kidney beans mixed in with the coconut rice you made, because her mind was discombobulated in a strange way which is normal for her on any given day, but not on this day when her mind went far right instead of staying centered.

Glad but Sad…

My tía Nina (Bernice) died from breast cancer so long ago and mom, my mom did not take her passing lightly. I was by her side when the midnight call came letting us know Nina passed on. Mom cried, cried and cried, as I cried, cried and cried ions later when I lost Pi. I did not cry for my aunt at the time, as I was the crutch to hold my mom upright. I did not visit my aunt Nina (Bernice) during the hospital stay. My memories of her were meant to stay in the past, before the cancer: beautiful, dressed to the best, makeup and hair perfectly coiffed. At times, I say, bullshit to that excuse that acts as comfort when fear probably allowed that excuse of not visiting acceptable.

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Mom and Nina were not the best of friends when they reunited in America after going their separate ways in Honduras. Mom, was sent away with an aunt who lived in Jamaica to be raised in a culture that didn’t accept the ‘coolie shitting callaloo’ looking Indian girl,  while Nina stayed in Honduras, going to school and perfecting her spanish language skills. Once the sisters reunited, got over the female drama, they traveled all over the Caribbean and became quite close.

My tía Nina (Bernice) always paid attention to me while the others (the Honduran aunts and uncles) had no time for the Jamaican blood that ran through my veins and made me the ‘other’ in their eyes.

Ma and Tia Nina in Ja096

I was not aware of the red kidney beans and coconut rice that transpired between them. Actually, I found out today. Mom cried when she told me how upset she was about Nina not eating the comfort food she requested before passing. I reminded her, how happy I was to eat it yesterday. SIMG_1538he smiled…and made another pot of it for my weeks’ lunch…

 

Out of gladness comes sadness and out of sadness comes gladness…

Tia Nina018 (2)

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Como aqua para chocolate…mom, yes my mom, and her cooking

Como Aqua Para Chocolate was on cable recently and I watched the entire movie for like the 50th time.

This movie is rich with symbolisms that extend beyond Mexican history but its central focus lies with the preparation of food and most importantly how emotions can influence cooking. Mom, my mom’s, cooking is a testament to this influence and although I never had a dish that sent me into sexual arousal (see the movie to know what I referred to) of the most high kind, her food, yes her food, is the comfort of what comfort food is suppose to be about.

Margarita, who is my mom, does not use measuring cups or follows a rigid routine when it comes to preparing her foods. She does not possess the latest food processor or the expensive knives that fit neatly in a wooden block cured with olive oil. No bread maker or Keurig decorates her counter tops. Forget Starbuck’s, Bustelo with cinnamon brewed in a sack is her preferred method of brewing coffee which is done the old way, traced back to her homeland of Honduras where purchasing and brewing coffee in a sack is as common as ordering a Grande latte thingy ma Jing at Starbuck’s.

At times, the cooking is prepared while laughing on the phone in deep conversation or humming a favourite outdated tune from the 50’s.

In earlier years, she sang.

In earlier years, when she sang, her food would leave you speechless.

Nowadays, the food with the humming or the endless talking on the phone leaves you satisfied and questioning if what you ate wasn’t the best ever version of what you dreamt it to be, along with the angels whom blowed their trumpets to announce how good the food made you felt as it made its way to your stomach via tu Corazon.

I refuse to patronize Spanish and Jamaican restaurants.

No food prepared in these restaurants can compare to my mom’s arroz con pollo, cerviche fish, dumplings, coconut beans and rice, pigeon peas, tostones, oxtails…okay…I stop here.

Margarita is a cook from whose heart the cooking stems.

A five- star restaurant cannot compete with that kind of cooking, because home is where the heart is and when the heart involves itself with food the competition to satisfy the stomach is intense. In the home of Margarita, in the kitchen where the food is prepared, there are no underpaid cooks for hire, where the cheapness of the salary is transferred to the animosity felt when preparing the food for the public.

The heart rules and lavishes love freely.

So in honour of my mi madre, Margarita, whom I’ve often taken for granted, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for being who you are and keeping your youngest well fed with food prepared that will forever linger en mi alma.

Margarita's pot rack

Margarita’s pot rack


Coffee

Coffee


Knives

Knives

2013

2013 arrived and was not greeted with the usual resolutions such as those made in 2012:

Lose weight

Limit alcohol intake

Penguin run – frequently and on a schedule

Living situation-Move out

Change job or get a better job with better location and better pay

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The resolutions of 2012 are now discarded. The New Year of 2013 came at midnight when the clock struck twelve and casted the resolutions of the old into an ‘unresolved’ imaginary bin stored in the back of my brain.

But, the consequence of making those resolutions in 2012 were severe:

Instead of losing weight I gained ten more pounds

Alcohol –a lil bit more instead of a lil bit less

Penguin run-what is that again?

Living situation-the move out turned into the barely living, drowning in frustration at my financial inability to move out

Same job and definitely no better location and no raise let alone a Christmas bonus

This year, with the new, New Year approaching, instead of the usual in my bed by 10pm sleep induced reception, I was awake. And no,  I did not watch the dreadful ball drop on TV for it triggers memories of a New Year’s past in which my butt was fondled and molested in the melee of a crowd gone wild while watching the old ball (sans the 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles)  drop live and in person in the pre-Giuliani Times Square.

But, this year there are no resolutions.

Attempting to construct resolutions for 2013 may be good in keeping with the spirit of the New Year thingy but if 2012’s resolution results are an indication of what will come, I think I’ll pass this year.  There’s no need to go through the ‘unresolved’ feelings of disappointment at not meeting impossible expectations. No point in shoving the disappointment into my brain where it will stagnate and fester turning into the unrequited resolve of the resolutions.  And no, the toxicity of that mess will not migrate to mi alma (my soul) for clutter and suffocation are not allowed to reside there, only torment, bliss and friction of every emotional kind.

Instead of resolutions, I welcome subtle and easy changes towards achieving goals.  Subtle, like breathing in and out and so easy as in not having to think too much about the process itself.

The subtle and easy changes require a difference each day in the way I think and do things. All things, from putting on my socks (left first instead of right) to the amount of pep milk (a little one day, a lot the next) in my coffee. I will take a slightly different route while walking the street, like walking on the opposite side of the streets I walk down.

My subtle and easy approach towards tackling larger goals will bring results.

Some of the goals I’ve set in motion involve learning and practicing meditation, consuming less meat and enrolling in a running program. Subtle and easy. Attending meditative classes, abstaining from meat until the weekends, running with a group instead of alone-just doing those little things which are subtle and so easy will lead me to obtainable goals. meditation 001

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