I’m sorry that I didn’t get a Calabaza Pela’ up over the weekend. I was busy and just couldn’t focus on writing; I have a lot of possible stories to share for this series, so sometimes it makes it hard for me to pick just one. But then I was fired yesterday and now I have nothing but free time! So while I figure out what to do with myself now during this period of unemployment, I shall try and delight y’all more with some writing on my blog. So, as a special treat, I will include two stories this time around.
The first I will tell is the bonus one. As with each week I wonder which story to share, my mother has been helping me with memories and details. This one is more “one liner” sort of funny rather than worthy of creating a recipe at the end. Going back a step to the early days of my grandparents’ marriage:
My grandfather didn’t live up as deeply in the country as my grandmother did. When he had met my grandmother, he had already done a year of draft service for the US Army by serving in Korea. He received a purple heart and he was even listed as dead when he disappeared during combat. His family prayed the necessary novenas (novenas= 9 nights of rosary praying after a burial) at the time; something he has said ever since that, when he really dies, he will not need them prayed for him as they have already been done. But he returned from the dead and had seen a little more of the world in the process. My grandmother on the other hand kept close to home. She worked the fields as the oldest girl and trips to town were reserved mostly for them men when they took the horses on down. When she married my grandfather, she was living in town for the first time and learning a whole new role in life. So when my grandfather took her out to a rather nice restaurant for the first time, it was a special treat. It is usually customary for there to be a bowl of salad before the meal but my grandmother, having lived on a diet of viandas (a variety of rather starchy roots or “vegetables”) and the occasional meat, having salad was unheard of! She took one look at that bowl and told my grandfather, in no uncertain terms, that she was not a goat to be eating such things.
I gotta love my grandmother. She kills me with the things she says!
Now we shall fast forward to the years after my last story; living in PR again with 3 kids. While my grandfather worked in mechanics and body shop repairs, sort of working out of home, my grandmother was the one who actually held down the stable income. She worked for many years late night shifts at the Atunera (tuna fish processing plant) scaling fish. It was a tiring job several towns over. She didn’t have a car and had to depend on rides or walking. There was even the night where she took a ride with some policemen to make it back home. Even though she would come home so late, she had the ritual of putting on some lipstick and kissing her three children. In the morning, each child would always check themselves for the imprint of a kiss to know that she made it home alright.
Therefore it fell to my grandfather to make sure the children ate something at night. From what I can piece together of the stories told, he was not much of a cook. The two staples of that period of time, if he was the one cooking, were hash browns and fried crackers. The latter are a favorite of mine, so many years later.
There are these large crackers called galletas de manteca. They are very dense and very good just on their own. But then you dip them into some lightly beaten egg batter and fry them up in a little bit of oil. The crackers get a good egg coat and they soften in the cooking process.
[I wanted to make some of the fried crackers to show a pic, but those crackers are sometimes hard to find. There is a certain bakery that sells them but they sell out early and I can never make it in time! But believe you me, they are delicious! I also tried to search for a picture of them. I don’t have any in my archives nor could I find one online. But I will promise to get a pic as soon as I can.]