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Peter and Terry's Adventures
15th Feb 2012 - 22nd Feb 2012
Food Food Food

Saturday morning was Cooking School. One of the local restaurants (La Peña de Sol Latino) holds a Saturday AM class every two weeks to demonstrate and teach how to make Pepian, Chilies Rellenos, and Tortillas. Now we already have had a lesson in Pepian, so it was interesting to see the same things (and some things different) going on. I was the only one who signed up for the class that week, so got personal attention, and was put to work pretty quickly, peeling and chopping. The Pepian was done much the same way as before, though the tomatillos and cinammon were omitted, and the green beans (ejotes) had not arrived in time! The smells and taste were much the same.

The Chilies Rellenos (Stuffed Peppers) were new to me, but apparently a very popular dish here. Basically you take any chili (peppers, we would say) - green, red, hot, mild - your choice, and char the skin till it flakes off, remove the seeds and either cut in half or keep whole for stuffing. The stuffing can be almost anything, it seems. At the class they were using cooked pork, carrots, onions (green beans...), potatoes, garlic, all ground up in the food processor and then cooked down and cooled. In the meantime I was told to separate six eggs and whip the whites. Later the yolks were added to make a batter for the stuffed peppers, which were dipped in the batter and then fried. A simple tomato sauce is poured over afterwards.

Making the Tortillas separates the gringos from the Guatemaltecos! You start with a golf ball sized piece of moistened masa harina, which is corn flour that has been treated with calcium hydroxide or lime (which makes it more nutritious by releasing the niacin in the corn and easier to digest). All over the city in tipico restaurants you see women grabbing a handful of the dough, and patting it quickly between their hands to make a perfectly round, and evenly flat tortilla - all of them the same size. You can hear it as you wander around - pat, pat, pat, pat, pat from hand to hand - and then put onto a hot surface to grill. Well, it isn't that simple...and we had a lot of laughs as I produced irregular, torn tortillas. I think I managed one good one. And you cannot keep trying, as over-working the dough makes it tough.

At the end of the class we ate our products (this was at 11:15, as the class went fairly quickly with just one student). The pepian was very good, and the chilies rellenos were ok, but I felt the stuffing needed a bit more spicing up. The tortillas were, well, tortillas...

There was bridge that afternoon, with a group that plays one round, then has a leisurely lunch and plays a couple of more rounds. Of course by lunch time I was still stuffed from the morning, but had to take a little to be polite. My second chicken dish of the day. The food was very good and when our hostess learned that I enjoyed cooking she took me into her study where she has a collection of hundreds of cookbooks, and card files (44 boxes of 1000 each, all hand-written) of recipes. She has even produced her own recipe book.

In the evening we were at dinner with our friends next door. More fabulous food, and my third chicken dish of the day...

Monday night we went to the monthly Gourmand Dinner. This is a loose association of folks who enjoy food and socializing. Each month they arrange with a restaurant to host a meal for the group. When we sat down at our table I was amused to find that we knew all dozen of them from other encounters during the last month. We certainly have met a lot of people here. The food was OK but not over the top, and I am sure it is difficult to prepare 60 servings and have everything perfect. At $59 for a three course dinner for two, wine for one - you cannot complain too much.

After the dinner we went along to La Peña de Sol Latino for a nightcap and to listen to a group of sailing cruisers perform. The restaurant is owned by a couple of former sailors - you can find more about it at Bill is a musician himself, and Mary manages the kitchen and was there during my time at the coooking class. Imagine my surprise when I looked at one of the musicians and for an instant thought I saw our friend Ron playing... It seems there are many "former cruisers" who made it to the Rio Dulce, sold their boats and settled in La Antigua!

Next: First Sunday in Lent
Previous: Tour de Pueblos

Diary Photos
19th Feb 2012  Entrance to La Peña de Sol Latino

19th Feb 2012  Entrance Hall at La Peña

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