Friday, February 21, 2014

The Black Bean Mambo

You can't take it all with you in this lifestyle. I guess even if you could, that's not really the point. The point isn't to move somewhere different with all your same stuff and try to live the same life you would be living back home.

But for most of us we need something to comfort us when we're homesick, some thing you can bring with you to remind you of home...

For me its Cuban black beans and rice, my mother's recipe. A staple in our home growing up, I was never a huge fan until later in life and it wasn't until I moved out that I made my own. Then Boyfriend Now Husband was crazy about them and would compliment, "These are even better than your mom's. What did you put in them?" My response was simple, "You're not getting this recipe until we're married." This was an ongoing joke between us - my dowry. It included this recipe and a set of pots and pans that my mom jokingly bribed us with upon our betrothal. It was a very nice set of pots but I think the bean recipe is what heavily weighed his decision.

In full confession, I am not the cook in our household. Husband is. He's better at it and less stressed out about it. I tend to run circles in the kitchen racking my brain about what I should be doing next. But not on black bean night. On black bean night I am an Olympic gold medalist at Cuban black bean making. I don't run circles or rack brains because my hands know what to do and when to do it and they do it with grace and ease.

home cooking... nothing like it
The smell of the green peppers boiling in the beans. The perfume of onions and garlic being sauteed into a sofrito (<-- great read on "Sofrito and the Holy Trinity of Cuban cuisine"). The cumin, the bay leaf, the oregano - the union of all of the ingredients spreads through the house like thick molasses. It smells heavenly. It's a smell que puede levantar un muerto - that can raise the dead.

And that's just the aroma. The taste doesn't fall behind: creamy and thick and inky in color there is something too delicious about black beans done right. It is savory yumminess with a twinkle of sweet that mambo dances on your taste buds, swishing and shimmying - they're that good.

Now that we're abroad, it's important to us to still give our kids pieces of home so we decided to make a new Cuban dish once a week. Masitas de puerco, vaca frita, bistec empanizado. Delicious. All of it. But all of them are accompanied by one thing. The beans.

Everything about those beans is home.

Thanks to In an Opal Hearted Country for organizing the February Expat Blog Challenge opportunity.
Day 21: "Tastes like home"

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