Eat Stray en
Guatemala (Part 1)
I am in central America and specifically in Guatemala. A completely different experience and feel from Cuba. It’s a country based on capitalism, the poor become poorer and the wealthy become wealthier. My mind was feeling uncomfortable again seeing people sleeping in the street, children in hunger and all the problems that free market creates, but also all the things that define an under developed country.
We assume that someone arriving here will get killed because we read things online. All statistics indicate that Guatemala is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. One more time, this is not completely true, or at least it doesn’t affect a traveler that much. Guatemala is a breathtaking country full of volcanoes, forests, lakes and beaches and of course the most important thing, beautiful people.
The food in Guate is delicious. When you have a prosperous land and the ability to import products from abroad, you can do magic. I am sure if Madame Ginger was here, she would make unbelievable dishes that cost nothing. Here, tourism is a big thing and there are plenty of restaurants, but again I will not go near them. This time I will talk to you about the local market of Antigua.
Like every Latin American city, Antigua has a local market. Here, a mango costs 10 cents and you find coffee and food from local people for almost nothing. Walking around in a huge market that looked like a labyrinth to me, I found plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, meats, shoes, clothes, sunglasses, headphones, little “cafes” and a lot of street food, but also I discovered Rosa.
Rosa is 50 years old and she has been working in the same place for the last 35 years. The first thing I noticed and made me stop was her genuine smile. A smile that was accompanied by metal cases framing her teeth. This is something that most of the people have here in Guate. I was looking at her for about two minutes like an idiot. That happens to me every time I meet somebody and my gut is telling me that I am looking at a great person. I think she said “hola” three times before I woke up and said hi back.
I had just met her, but something was telling me that I had known her for years. She had a daughter that spoke a bit of english, and that helped a lot. I told her I am a photographer and she gave a straight answer. I don’t like to be photographed. I said fine, I will photograph your food and asked what is she making for today. Chuchitos, she said, and kept working. Awesome! I was looking to photograph that for days.
A few days before I had heard about a lady that makes chuchitos in the market but I had forgotten it. It was Rosa! As soon as she told me her mane, I remembered! What a lucky coincidence! I felt great that I managed to remember her name, it was one of the few times that my memory didn’t fail me. I started with my questions.
First you need corn. This is the essential ingredient. . Boil the corn with the leaves. Right after boiling, you remove the leaves because this is what we are going to rap the chuchitos in. You crush the corn and then you roll it in a ball and apply pressure with your palms until it becomes flat. Almost the same technique that you would use to make a small pizza. We place the meat, raw , with tomato sauce, and roll it in the corn. You can also put some cheese in there as well if you like.
Finally we use the leaves of the corn to wrap our creation and tie it so it doesn’t fall apart when you cook it. We put it in a pot to boil for almost two hours.
After a while I finally got tired. I was so hungry that I unwrapped the chuchito impatiently, ready to devour it. It was soft and the meat was delicious. It was a beautiful mix of corn, meat and tomato sauce. The chuchito was burning my fingers but I couldn’t wait for it to cool off. After my meal I felt great. It’s important to eat something beautiful and know that the person that cooked it, loves making it. It seems more tasty that way. I was thinking, it’s hard to go to another place to eat when you’ve already tasted perfection, so the next day I went back to Rosa.
(To be Continued…)
Be Well & Be Free,