Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Summer Pozole

A year and a half of Fridays. Last summer and this one, through the winter, into spring and back to autumn. A scarred heart and a place to grow. Sorghum and strong brown hands.

Orange, red, yellow, inky blue and white kernels line the cobs. Corn in from the fields and dry in the barn. Corn for popping and grinding. Corn for polenta, grits and hominy. All along, Anthony talks about corn. There is, in the same words, enough to gather a little more understanding each time.

There is no one way to tell a story or a make a meal. So too, for the rotation of fields and the plantings of rows. Whether nudged by curiosity or responsive creativity, each time something changes. Day in and day out, we practice getting a combination right. Once in awhile, it works.

Pozole is made from stored, fresh, old and leftover ingredients. A hen that has stopped laying. The corn, dry and stored. Tomatillos growing wild in the fields. Onions, fat and salt. Perhaps garlic. At times, greens, fresh herbs, tomatoes or chilies. Other times, pork. Even classics have variations, driven by season, storage and prudence. Different every time.

The August di milpa tomatillos begin the pozole. They are small, walnut sized fruit, in green and purple skins and papery brown husks. Little, tart and sweet, they make a clear and vibrant addition. A chicken comes out of the freezer to make room for the quarter cow coming in a month. A half an onion, waiting to be of use. Salt and fat. And the last cup of Amish Butter popcorn that holds too much moisture to pop with satisfaction. Turning the popcorn into hominy makes the kernels stripped; orange at the tip, yellow band around the middle and white on the wide end. Anthony says they look like Halloween candy corn. They burst open in the simmering broth.

Cool gray days cycling through the summer months. A volcano eruption on the other side of the world. When the rain falls and the amount that falls. A warm ocean current, a pent-up bird, a poor kill. Skilled hands in the field, at harvest and in the kitchen. Every ingredient has a long list of reasons why it tastes the way it does.

Corn, tomatillos, chicken, onion, fat and salt.