I have not been to the supermarket in a week. We have been eating out of our organic garden and the remainders of what is in the fridge. Yesterday when I got home from the office, I had no idea what we would have for dinner. Since I was home first, I took over the kitchen. Chefette for the day! I opened the bin to find one yellow crookneck squash, one zucchini, one small purple eggplant (getting a little shriveled after a week), some corn on the cob that we had picked last weekend, and half a large yellow onion. On one of the shelves in the refrigerator was some Queso Fresco (Oaxaca cheese), a bottle of salsa verde (green Mexican hot sauce), and homemade pesto. Here’s what I did with it.
1 yellow crookneck squash, sliced thin
1 zucchini, sliced thin
1 small eggplant, peeled, and cut into 1″ cubes
2 medium corn on the cob
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
4 ounces of Oaxaca Queso Fresco, cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 T. pesto or 2 T. salsa verde
1 T. salt
salt and pepper to taste
In a sautee pan, add the olive oil and heat over medium until a splash of water sizzles. Add the eggplant cubes and sprinkle evenly with 1 T. salt. Sautee for five minutes over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover pan and cook for 15 minutes. Add onions, zucchini and squash. Stir well and cover. Continue cooking over low heat for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, using a sharp paring knife, hold the corn cob small side up and cut the kernels off the cob. Add pesto or salsa verde to squash and eggplant mixture at the end of the total 30 minutes cooking time. Eggplant and onions should be transluscent and squash should be soft but the slices still intact. Taste. Correct the seasoning. Just before serving, add the fresh corn kernels and Queso Fresco. Stir. Cover for 2-3 minutes until cheese begins to soften and kernels are cooked.
We wrapped this mixture in whole wheat tortillas and made big veggie burritos. Delicioso. Serves two with hearty appetites as a vegetarian entree. Serve with a chilled sauvignon blanc or chardonnay or a really cold Tecate.
Notes for the Cooks: Queso Fresco is a very versatile and mild cheese. You can crumble it like a topping on a pizza or cut it into cubes, like I did here. In Oaxaca, we eat it for breakfast cut in cubes to accompany eggs and potatoes or to stuff inside fresh made corn tortillas. if you don’t have fresh corn on the cob, you can substitute frozen baby corn. If you like a lot of garlic, add some peeled garlic cloves to the first step when you begin to sautee the eggplant. The secret to this dish is the long, slow cooking of the eggplant.
Update: Visa Applicants Must Prove Intent to Return to Home Country
We pursued conversations with Congressman Becerra’s Los Angeles office and were very satisfied with their response. At least we better understood that there is little that can be done after the embassy makes a decision to deny a visitor visa. The congressman’s office has no jurisdiction and cannot influence a decision and even a call from a congressman won’t change a decision. In all fairness, we don’t know exactly what documents our friends brought with them to prove their intentions to return to Mexico. We know they did try to show the supporting letters from us. We don’t know if they had a complete package of information to provide the evidence that the family has strong ties to Mexico and were not intending to stay in the U.S. as undocumented immigrants.
Here are my recommendations for proving “strong and binding ties to their country of origin” –
Here are my recommendations for strengthening the visa application:
In the process of hearing that our friends were denied a visitor’s visa and learning more about why from Congressman Becerra’s office, I know that there is still a lot of subjective decision making that goes into the “yes” or “no” by the consul. The official statement is “There are many other factors that are taken into consideration when a person is applying for a visitor visa, such as, their age, how many family members are applying for a visa, their purpose for traveling, if they have other family in the country they are traveling to, if they have ever applied for a visa before, etc.”
Perhaps our friends were denied because the entire family — husband, wife and two children — wanted to attend the wife’s brother’s wedding and the consul considered this to be too risky. Who knows? I feel so bad that I wasn’t able to help, and I guess that’s the bottom line.
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Posted in Cultural Commentary, Mexican Immigration
Tagged Documents needed for U.S. visitor visas, Mexican Immigration to US, visitor visas for Mexicans