Monday, November 18, 2013


View of volcanoes from the airplane window

Well, we just got our box last week.  We ship a huge box of stuff two or three times a year from the US. It takes 3 to 6 weeks to get here, depending upon the season--the closer to Christmas, the longer it'll take--and for a 200 pound box of books and magazines, as well as some munchies and hair products I cannot find here, they charge about US$80. 

If you bear in mind that airlines are now charging $35 to $100 for an extra suitcase or for a bit of overweight on a suitcase, you will see how worthwhile it is to just use a shipping company to send your stuff.  Many airlines have reduced the suitcase weight from 50 pounds to 40 and will soon be reduced to 35. You can buy insurance for the box if you are nervous about your stuff getting lost.  I have never had them lose a box, but I have heard stories, so it behooves one to buy insurance.  Airlines also lose suitcases, so, you know! It's a risk.

My half-yearly shipment of books, magazines, hair products and a few groceries

One shipping company we use is Worldwide Traders in Miami (305-885-2587), but there are others, such as Zuleta.  I cannot recall the name of the other shipping companies, but if you do your research, make sure you are able to get some comments from satisfied as well as dissatisfied customers.

One of the things I enjoy is shopping for fresh produce in the barrio markets

I have to start preparing classes. Soon. I teach in a couple of grad programs in universities here. They don't go by semesters, which is nice, as that means the courses are shorter but more intense.  I have lots of off time in between, during which I keep busy. Doing stuff. Like reading. And ... going to pubs and artsy events with friends. These are the slow months, so I am a bit of a lazy bum.

As soon as I finished writing that I got an assignment for writing a few academic articles due in December, which is a pretty short span of time for a sloth such as moi.  Looks like I will actually have to work, after all.  Ah well. It doesn't hurt. I write from home in Central America, they deposit a check in the US. The good side of globalization in the internet era.

 Mixtas (yeah, I know, the paper plates are cheerfully horrid. They were on sale.)

Today I will blog a bit about mixtas, because they are easy to make and a great dish to have with a cold drink on a Saturday or Sunday noon.

Mixtas are a traditional Guatemalan dish that is not only delicious, but easy and fast to make. Like I said, they are perfect for a weekend repast when you want something tasty but don't feel like really cooking or going out to hunt for your food. 


First order of things, mash some ripe avocados with a fork (you know they are ripe if they are soft but not way too mushy).  Add lime or lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Some people add cilantro, raw onions and/or cumin. To each his or her own, but I keep mine simple.

 Shredded cabbage (doesn't matter if it is green or purple)

Shred some cabbage ("repollo") in your food processor or by hand, add lime juice or vinegar, salt and pepper and let stand for a while. That is the Latin American version of coleslaw.  You can add shredded carrots and/or chiles to add color and spice if you like.  

Like I said, I keep my cooking simple, so I buy mine at the supermarket. The Miguel's brand has a jarred version of this which is pretty good.  Just buy it. Unless you want to go all artisanal on the stuff.  The traditional cabbage for this dish is the green kind but, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn like Rhett Butler so wisely said. Use whichever you prefer. I'm not a purist when it comes to food.

Final product: The Mixta

Bake, grill, roast, or fry some wieners.  I use the beef  "Astoria Especial" wieners they sell at the Astoria Deli chain.  They cost double what the supermarket ones cost but are worth it.  And we grill them on the Foreman grill.  Just make them whichever way you prefer.  I find that the quality of the meat, however, is going to determine the quality of the mixta.  So what else?

Handmade corn tortillas

Oh yes. The tortillas. Buy handmade corn tortillas if you have access to any, for those are the best. You know, the type they sell at the market or tortillerías. DON'T used prepackaged corn tortillas, those are too fragile and break up.  You can also use prepackaged flour tortillas.  Not the same, of course, but it works.  You pile up the cabbage, the guacamole, the wiener, you top with chile sauce, spicy mustard or ketchup ... whatever you like on a hot dog, you will like on this one ... and voila!  Mixtas, ready to eat. 

If you are wise, follow my advice and use paper plates and paper napkins.  The less dishes to wash on a weekend, the better.

Ablación (removal). A piece created by artist Juan Pensamiento for the exhibit "Querida Familia" (Dear Family) at the Alianza Francesa.  It is embroidered with a paragraph from Timothy, 2, 11-15.

So, having told you how to make a pretty simple and slapdash dish with a lot of make-do, plenty of store-bought stuff, I think I am well on my way to being the new Martha Stewart. This is how we survive on weekends, when our cook is gone.  If it weren't for the good woman, we'd practically never really eat 3 square homemade meals a day. We`d subsist on stuff like mixtas and take-out.

Which is why you won't soon see me in an apron or pinafore. I share with you all the one above, made by my friend Juan.  It reads (in Spanish): "A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet."   Of course it is in the context of a statement of the situation of women in Guatemala, not really of his beliefs.  I thought it was a pretty clever and effective piece.  

Other than that, nothing new. The weather is wonderful. We still haven't found a new apartment that suits our needs.  But still looking.  And so it goes.
View from an apartment building in Zona 10. Or maybe Zona 14.

1 comment:

  1. First off, those mixtas look delicious. Second, let me just say that I completely agree with the first part of your post. Having your stuff shipped instead of including them in your baggage during air travel is, indeed, a better decision. Though shipping them may take a few hours, you don't get charged as much as bringing them along with you to the plane. One other possibility is that sometimes these airlines unload your stuff once they reach baggage limit for traveling, so what happens is you have to wait for the next flight, where there is also a chance it can get lost. A lot more stress if you ask me.

    Dave Borrell