María Angela Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca
(1893 – 1998)
|My grandmother or “Abuelita,” shown here at her
apartment in about 1983, when she was 90 years old.
She lived independently until her death a month
before her 105th birthday.
I am back to posting after a hiatus of several weeks. It is true that remembering our history and writing about family is what this blog is all about, but after all, being with family – those who are here and a part of our lives now – is what life is all about and gives it meaning.
Another thing that slowed my blogging somewhat was a Christmas gift my husband and I worked on for our family this year. We have long wanted to compile a family heritage cookbook that would contain the recipes we have collected over the years from our families. It was an ambitious project that took several months, but it was worth it. More about that in a future post.
One of the recipes from that book follows here. My paternal grandmother, or Abuelita, María Angela Catalina (Perrotin) Huesca, was a splendid cook whose dishes were known and loved by not only her own family and friends but also the many guests who stayed at the family hotels, El Buen Gusto (The Good Taste Hotel) in Tierra Blanca, Veracruz; and El Gran Hotel (Grand Hotel) in Perote, Veracruz.
One of my favorite dishes was my grandmother’s traditional Mexican rice. She had many other specialties, but to me, this was one of her signature dishes. She could never tell me exactly how she made it. “Ah, hijita (my little one), just a little of this and a pinch of that,” she would say whenever I asked her for the recipe.
Recipes! Did they really exist before this modern era of cookbooks, cooking classes, and the Food Network? As far as I know, everything in Abuelita’s repertoire came from tradition, memory, and experience. She learned to cook the dishes that had been passed down through the generations. Her personal touch and the love with which she cooked for her family was what made her meals so memorable.
Although Abuelita allowed me to observe her make this rice one afternoon, she was rather amused by the idea. Like a modern woman would, I tried to measure the amounts of the ingredients she used and note her techniques. Over the years, I have learned that though the recipe here appears simple, this rice is not easy to master. What you will not find in this recipe is the love that went into it. You will not see the fresh ingredients she had bought from the market that morning or the feel for when something needs “a little more of this or that,” is “just enough” or “just right.” That, dear reader, will be up to you.
It would be disingenuous and even presumptuous to say that this was the “definitive” recipe, as the ingredients may have varied from time to time. However, this is about as close as it came, from my perspective. When I savor the morsels of chopped carrots and potatoes and freshly shelled peas that give this rice its wonderful texture, I cannot help but see my dear diminutive grandmother blissfully stirring a weathered cast iron skillet atop the gas stove in her tiny kitchen on Carpio Street in Mexico City.
Comfort food, indeed.
Abuelita’s Mexican Rice
A traditional accompaniment to many Mexican dishes.
3 cups medium grain rice
1 (1/2) qt. hot water
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/4 cup cubed carrots
1/4 medium onion, chopped fine
1 small potato, cubed
1 garlic clove, chopped
Heat oil in pot and add rice when hot. When rice is yellow and beginning to turn translucent, drain oil, leaving a little to keep rice moist. Add remaining ingredients and cover. Cook on low to medium heat until water is absorbed.
Copyright © 2013 Linda Huesca Tully