I decided to have a very small New Year’s Eve birthday celebration, invite a few Zapotec friends and the family I live with to lunch, and prepare pozole. I made this in North Carolina for Dia de los Muertos, but adapted the recipe for ingredients I could find there.
Here, in the Teotitlan del Valle market, I could find fresh Mexican oregano, organic and native corn hominy made by a local family, and tender pork from the local butcher that cost a mere $7 USD for the best cut.
After three trips to the car to unload my shopping basket, I sat down at the corner market stand for fortification — a fresh juice cocktail with beets, pineapple, carrot and orange.
Almost everything here in the village market is criollo — or native species. The small heads of garlic come from the neighboring village of Tlacochuaya. You can only buy the heads with giant cloves at commercial grocery stores.
I did have a glitch in my preparation. My search for shelled pumpkin seeds (called pepitas) failed. So I bought whole seeds in a bulk bag from a spice and chili vendor. When I got home, I proceeded to try to take the skin off. The pumpkin seeds are essential to the green pozole because when ground, they become a natural sauce thickener.
Then my friend Lupita came over. Much easier, Norma, to toast the seeds on the comal, she told me, then the shell will come right off. She taught me how to toast until the seeds start to pop like popcorn. It took me two hours to yield 1/4 cup of shelled pumpkin seeds, the amount my recipe called for. She sat down to help me and in thirty minutes the amount doubled.
I love green pozole. And, I remembered how easy it was to make this one-pot meal in North Carolina. But, all fruits and vegetables here in Mexico need to be disinfected. I often rinse them several times to get rid of the soil. Picked fresh organic cilantro and radishes are sold roots and greens. Just to get the ingredients ready was another lesson in paciencia.
For this Green Pozole (pozole verde) recipe, I adapted ingredients and instructions culled from Rick Bayless, Mama Latina Tips, and Food Network. I prepared the pork-chicken/onion/garlic mix in a crock pot first, cooking for six hours.
When lunch ended it was almost dusk. Lunch starts here around three or four o’clock and can end several hours later depending on the quantity of food and mezcal. We had our fair share of both.
For the next feast we would gather at 10:30 p.m. for a midnight meal with my host family to celebrate the New Year. This is a long-standing tradition in Teotitlan del Valle, along with the annual pilgrimage to Las Cuevitas.
For the interlude, I went up to the rooftop terrace to wait, climbed into the hammock, and gazed at this December 31 Supermoon. In the distance I could hear the village band playing at the sacred caves — Las Cuevitas. Cohetes, or firecrackers, exploded like gunshot at irregular intervals. Dogs howled. Probably a few coyotes, too.
On this first day of 2018, as my Teotitlan del Valle family and I sat around the table at lunch, we each shared our wishes for 2018. I wish for continued good health, for continuing to walk three to four miles a day with my adopted dogs, for nothing more than what I already have, except to see my son more often and perhaps the possibility of a man in my life. Vamos a ver!
As this year begins anew, as we each move through the passage of time, I wish for all of us a year of peace, satisfaction, contentment, love and abundance. There is nothing more important than the support of family and good friends.
Thank you all for following Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, for reading, for joining me to discover and explore textiles and natural dyes, and for caring about Mexico.
Happy New Year. Feliz Año Nuevo.