18 years working as journalist and editor for the main Guatemalan newspapers and several local magazines. My fields: art, culture and history.

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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The day that I almost call to 999

You two have two options: a) I will invite you a dinner when I return from the West, or b) I’ll cook for you”, I said to A and K the night we had a dinner in an Italian restaurant close to the Parliament. They didn’t let me paid.

They looked each other for one second and they answered (almost synchronized) taking the second choice and, three weeks later, I was on my way to Dublin by bus, ready to be their chef.

The day I returned to the city I had two clearly thoughts, the grocery’s list for tonight’s menu and going to the airport to change my return ticket flight to someday of December.

Until now I don’t know what it was easier.

I will tell you, dear reader, about my adventure at the airport later and how, walking next to The Blackwater River, in Fermoy, Cork, I decided to extend my visit in Ireland.

Let’s back to my duties as a chef.

I remember I walked from Dublin 8 to Fallon & Byrne, the store that A and K recommended me to find all ingredients I was looking for. The most difficult part it wasn’t buys the herbs, spices and seeds that are used in Guatemalan gastronomy, because I have in mind to cook some dishes from my country.

The hard part was to find the place, because I got lost. I was spinning around. Now I can laugh. Maybe I wasted time, but it worthed because I knew better the area between Grafton and George streets.

When I left Fallon & Byrne I realized the backpack I brought up with me wasn’t enough for shopping. It was so small. My second stop was Dunnes, across the street, where I completed my list. Walking back to home, with a backpack and an extra hand bag it wasn’t a good idea. Besides, I only had 4 or 5 hours to cook at least four different courses. So, I took a taxi just in front of Dunnes.
J was barking when he heard people opening the door. He was a nice company and he witnessed my panic and drama moment at the kitchen when, in one second between chopping green vegetables and smashing black beans I noticed the place seems a sauna. The windows were fogged and I swear the smoke detector was close to beeping. I even imagine myself giving explanations to a fire brigade while A and K were watching me on breaking news from their offices.

But I solved the problem opening the windows.

I was cooking, well overcooking, “tostadas”, (the origin of my fire fears). A tostada is a fried tortilla, it’s similar to a Mexican nacho but is not triangle shaped, the Guatemalan tortillas are circled, seems like a burrito tortilla but are smaller and crunchy. To avoid more problems (time and fire) I cooked this time a tortilla snack version.

When A and K came to home only J knew about the smoke incident.

I served first the snacks. A tortilla spread with smashed black beans with a white cheese.

Then a black beans soup flavored with herbs and sweet corn. Followed by a “churrasco” (a Guatemalan BBQ), in other words: grilled onions and corn, beef and “chirmol”, a kind of sauce made it with smashed grilled tomatoes, herbs and spices.

The main dish was and Irish / Guatemalan recipe invented some days before (fusion cuisine?). I used the famous fish and chips but I added the green sauce that in Guatemala we use to cook a thick soup named “Jocón” with green vegetables, chicken and rice. (I hate rice, so I didn’t serve it).

We finished with a salad, a regular one, with a blackberry dressing. And we drank two different beverage of hibiscus, the first one was like a tea (but flavored with cinnamon and brown sugar) and using the same drink, I added to the other pineapple juice and some shots of “Quezalteca”, a Guatemalan rum.

I was so focused working in the kitchen that I forgot to take pictures of all served courses but we had a nice dinner and, most import, a home to enjoy our meal, because we could spend the night in a Garda or Fire station, sharing just burnt tortillas.
This is a "churrasco". Is not the meal I shared with A and K but is similar. I cooked it for all staff and people staying at The Old Mill Hostel. Pic: Braliem Jousc

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