Tag Archives: food

My Dad, the Super Bowl and a Dirty Kitchen

5 Feb

There isn’t a day when I don’t think about my Dad, but some days I think about him all day. Super Bowl happens to be one of those days. Not so much because of the game or awesome commercials, but because of the presence of family in the kitchen. His ability to rise to the cooking challenge and destroy the kitchen in the process was a ritual often saved for Thanksgiving, however the Super Bowl also required a batch of fresh-smelling Fabulouso and Clorox Wipes.

One Super Bowl, I remember telling him how much I wanted Kentucky Fried Chicken or El Pollo Loco. I told him it would be so much easier to just to pick up some treats and eat up.

Kentucky Fried Chicken/KFC Original Recipe chi...

Image via Wikipedia

“I don’t buy chicken. I sell chicken. Thousands of them. Why would you want chicken anyway. We should have carne asada. But if you want chicken I can make that for you. We don’t have to buy it. It’s easy.”

“No Dad, you can’t. Let’s just buy it.”

And there it was … I went and did it.

You see, my Dad is also like me. He lives by the Lero Lero Factor. There’s not direct translation from the Spanish language but the best I could do is the “in your face…in your face!” expression. It’s the ability to feel vindicated and accomplish something after someone tells you that you couldn’t do it. It warms your heart and makes you smile. It’s a powerful feeling of satisfaction.  It’s the Lero Lero Factor.

And as soon as I said it…as soon as the words ‘you can’t’ left my mouth I knew it was over. He was up for the challenge. Watch out Food Network Chito was in the house. No need for an apron.

My dad brought out the frying pans and the old-school skillets that we probably had since 1985. He raided the fridge and pantry for the ingredients and lit the fire.

Two hours later the stove was covered in Mazola Oil, a hundred dishes in the sink, cilantro all over the counter, tomato on the walls, flour in his hair, on the floor, and on the ceiling. He would bring out the platter and of course it looked nothing like the chicken in the commercials. He’d smile and nod.

English: We grilled chicken thighs, corn on th...

Image via Wikipedia


“That looks nothing like The Colonel’s KFC special recipe or El Pollo Loco’s flame grilled Mexican Chicken.”

“Hey, hey, hey. We’re Guatemalan. Besides, I didn’t say it would look like it. I said it would taste like it.”

So I’d grab a drumstick from each pile and took a bite. I looked up and smiled. We’d watch the game and finish most of the chicken.

Just as this happened my mom would walk in see the catastrophic mess in the kitchen and fly off the handle, letting the Spanish profanity roll off her tongue. She had just cleaned the kitchen.

My dad would turn and look at me.

“It was your daughter. I’ll have her clean it up.”

Looking at my parents clean kitchen this Super Bowl Sunday I remembered my Dad. I missed the flour on the ceiling and tomato on the walls.

I Love Hawaiians…The Creators of This-Is-Not-Your-Life Chocolate

3 Feb

I was having one of those days again…unfortunately it was back to back. And normally I would have wallowed but I found something that turned it around. The cocoa plant. This time it worked. Not because it was a KitKat or Twix. Not even because it was a Ghirardelli Square. But this time it was Hawaiian. I came across a box of Big Island Candy and it was over. 

Sitting there savoring the two pieces of rich milk chocolate hypnotized my brain and my heart just took over. It was chocolafied. As I sat there I remembered my letter. It’s probably taped up in the customer service representative’s cubicle. 

Image via Bigislandcandies.com

Image via Bigislandcandies.com

Dear  Big Island Candies Customer Service,

Recently we received a Big Island Candy gift basket filled with cookies, chocolate covered cookies, Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road Milk Chocolate, and Hawaiian Crispy Milk Chocolate. The quality and flavor of your cookies and rocky road was incomparable and quite savory. In fact I hadn’t tasted anything like it before and believe me I’m an experienced chocolate connoisseur (I’ve got the cavities to prove it).

I was convinced I would never purchase any other kind of store-bought chocolate. I wouldn’t go back. I couldn’t! But alas, something put a chink in my chain. A Tylenol to my Chocolate Fever. Kryptonite. I was extremely disappointed with the taste and caliber of the Hawaiian Crispy Chocolate in the gift basket.

I understand that you create many different flavors, ingredients, and textures for your products in an effort to produce something delicious, new, and diverse. However in this case I don’t know if it was your ingredients or the final product itself, but this chocolate was not up to par.

I was sitting down after a hard day of work and wanted to unwind. You see, I’m a substitute teacher for an inner city school district grades 6th – 8th and the only thing that hasn’t stopped me from suicide is chocolate. That fact in and of itself should let you know how agonizing and unbearable my day went. The need for great chocolate was adamant. I was looking forward to forgetting the disrespectful insults of the day, the prophylactic attached to my doorknob, and the dean of discipline referral slips crumpled up in my pocket. I needed a moment of serenity, but your chocolate failed this time. My comfort food didn’t placate my emotional status. In fact it kicked it up a notch. I ended up getting into an argument with every human being in the tri-state area, including my husband and he chalked it up to PMS. However, I don’t get PMS…I get chocolate withdrawals. Needless to say, he slept on the couch and I had no Big Island Chocolate.

This chocolate left a nasty bitter taste in my mouth that shook my newly found fondness for your product. I have enclosed the entire box (minus the piece I attempted to digest). I truly hope you can remedy my situation with either a box of the rocky road chocolate which I knew was of fine quality or the same crispy chocolate which was filled with questionable-tasting ingredients (bad batch perhaps?).

I would like to continue believing that your homemade chocolate and cookies are my “serenity now” necessities required after a difficult day of teaching today’s youth values, morals and grammar.

About five weeks later I got a small box of Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road,  a large sampler box, and a catalog.

Dude I love Hawaiians. They make these this-is-not-your-life chocolates. They’re awesome.

El Plato…The Take-Home Plate

29 Jan
Carne Asada Taco

Image by revrev via Flickr

I don’t know about your culture, neighborhood, or upbringing but in my inner-city, working-class, Latino culture there is something called el plato…the take-home plate. Whether it’s a quinceanera, birthday party, baby shower, bachelorette celebration, or Tupperware party you got the take-home plate. There was an etiquette to these social gatherings — a certain unwritten code of behavior that my people followed. As a guest you didn’t even have to ask. It was just something given to you, like the air you breathe. However, this day was only the second time in my 35-year existence that it didn’t happen. It was weird…like an inexplicable X-Files that Moulder and Scully needed to investigate.

I didn’t know what to make of it. I mean I barely survived my mayonnaise chocolate cake encounter the other day through the awesome power of  Sal de Uvas Picot antacid. I mean even the Mayonnaise Lady offered me a plate home…granted it was denied because I was on the verge of throwing up, but it was offered. Perhaps  things were changing, but when I got home I realized they hadn’t.  

There I was enjoying the baby shower festivities, which included a nice carne asada tacos, rice, beans, and tostadas. I thought I was having a great food weekend with the spring rolls and cookies and then this savory meal hits my taste buds … whoa. Did I have seconds? Yeah… I did. I even had thirds. My people make enough to feed King Kong’s family. There’s no shame in getting thirds, my people encourage the curvaceous look.

As the celebration came to an end, people started picking up casseroles, moving chairs, cleaning tables, drinking Budweiser and singing Chente’s Volver Volver. Vincente Fernandez‘s song for those of you that don’t know, this is THE HYMN that usually appears towards the end of the festivities. Drunk and sober people sing it all the time.

So as I’m making my good-bye rounds, I notice I’m getting closer and closer to the door and no plato in sight. I make my final good byes to the guest of honor and her family at the door and nothing.

I linger…still no Dixie plate with aluminum foil any where in sight. But I know they still had enough food to feed half of the New York Giants. So I try to drop some hints.

“It was a great party. The food was great. So delicious.”

“Mmm-hmm. Yes it was. We have so much of it.”

“Oh yeah it was good.”

“Thanks…Glad you made it out.”

“Oh, you were?”

“Of course! We always love having you ladies over.”

I glanced over her shoulder. Nothing. No more stalling. It’s just not coming.

“Well, O.K. Gotta go.”

They stare at me. I stare back.


I open the screen door and leave. No carne asada, no rice, no beans, no salsa. No plato.

 I walk through the door at home. My mom sits on the couch watching something  Don Francisco related. I put my keys on the table and sit.

“What happened? I thought you went to a party?”

“I did.”

Y el plato?”

No plato.”

“No plato?”

“No…no plato.”

“What happened?”

My aunt walks down the stairs and says hello. She looks around the kitchen and table.

“So you didn’t go to the party?”

“I did.”

Y el plato.”

“No plato.

“Do they not like you?”

“Yeah they do… just no plato.”

“Are you sure?”

“Well, not anymore. But initially yeah they did.”

My husband comes down the stairs and gets a beer from the fridge.

“Where’s the plate?”

“No plate.”

“No plate! What’s up with that? Was it an unvitation party?”

“No dude. They like me. There was just no plate.”

“Not possible. Maybe they don’t like you enough.”

So after a thirty minute analytical  inquisition by family I realized, sometimes there are just no plates. Not even an offer of one. It happens. People have brain farts all the time and the unwritten rule remains unspoken and without action. You chalk it up to too much alcohol and their family living on the west side.  

West siders…an interesting no-plato species.

Sal de Uvas Saved Me From This Chocolate Cake

28 Jan

I don’t think I’ll look at chocolate cake the same way again. I love chocolate. It’s my go-to choice for anything catastrophic in my day. I mean other than profanity, chocolate does it for family interactions, writer rejections, traffic, baby blowouts, college football losses and cliffhangers on some of my favorite AMC or FX shows.

English: Chocolate cake with chocolate frostin...

Image via Wikipedia

I love the cacao tree. It’s awesome, but what this lady did with it in cake…not cool man…not cool. Bad things should not be happening to chocolate cake.

I went to another get-together in the afternoon and I didn’t repeat my food-a-thon from yesterday, but when I realized that they had chocolate cake, it was on. I was already thinking up an excuse as to why I  needed to take two pieces home with me…you know, invent a relative that’s staying with me and say I’d like to take her some, knowing full well that I’d probably devour it at the stoplight.

I grabbed my piece of cake, not a sliver, not a slice, a healthy ginormous chunk of the bad boy and began eating before I sat down.  The texture was different. Something was different about it. It was softer, but something was different.

When I asked where she got it, she said she had baked it herself.

“It’s my mayonnaise chocolate cake.”

“Your what?”

“My mayonnaise chocolate cake. I saw the recipe it’s sometimes called the ‘Depression Era‘ cake because I guess in those times people used what they could find.”

If you don’t have butter, don’t be making it. Or at least put a label on it and say this is my mayonnaise cake, dig in.

Dude. Depression Era indeed. After hearing that I was depressed. In fact I was sick. All I could think of was a white vinegar-smelling blob trying to molest my chocolate.  Apparently mayonnaise is an emulsion of ingredients that are normally un-blendable. Who wants that with their chocolate. I mean in a sandwich, I get it. Although I don’t really add mayonnaise to my stuff, I’m a deli mustard person myself. But I understand why people put it on sandwiches. It was intended to be a spread, not a major ingredient in chocolate cake.

I was completely grossed out. I mean I know there are eggs and oil in this white blob, but dude sometimes ingredients need to be mixed the cake way instead of forming a sandwich spread and then adding it to your cake as if it were pudding or frosting. I could feel my stomach yelling obscenities at me. It was one of those moments where you so wanted to throw up, but it doesn’t happen so you’re left with this sick feeling.

Sal De Uvas Picot…My Savior

I was grossed out the entire day until the little white, blue and green packet rescued my stomach. Sal de Uvas Picot saved me. It’s an antacid imported from Mexico. One of the best things other than their Tecate or Dos Equis beverages. It rebooted my system and was thankful we had some in the medicine cabinet.

No more visits to Mayonnaise Lady. I don’t need anymore Tupperware, they sell Rubbermaid at Costco.

The Spring Rolls and The Cookies Killed My Phone

27 Jan

I hadn’t been out since my All-I-Wanted-To-Do-Was-Leave-by-8:00 adventure.

I was ready to have dinner made by anyone else but me and not have to wash the dishes or baby bottles.  So I prepared myself to fight traffic and drove about 45 minutes to a friend’s house for a girls night. Beverages included.

I  arrived after the designated dinner time, as any insane mom does, but there was plenty of food waiting for me at the table. Just sitting there on square white plates, saying giddy up girl. Dig in, because you have no square plates at home.

I must have eaten at least 20 spring rolls and 10 pot stickers. In addition I ate a generous Claim-Jumper portion size of the most tender steak, with savory salty drippings that were sopped up by my mouth. No need for bread.

I was like a caveman. I just couldn’t stop eating. And then came the cookies. Warm, soft, gooey. I ate 11. I thought a dozen might be too many. I didn’t want to get crazy. So instead I ate two more spring rolls. I sat there in a food coma. Happy that I didn’t have to serve anyone for once, or hear anybody crying for a bottle, or whining about bath time, or talking about golfing the next day, or getting sassy with me in Spanish.

I savored the moment. So I took another cookie. Why not? 12 is a good number. But maybe 14 is better. Maybe another spring roll.

As I sat there chit-chatting with the girls and continuing with my buffet, I heard the latest romantic adventure of my newly engaged friend, whose story made me re-live John Cusack‘s boombox scene from Say Anything. Complete I-love-you moments. It was like watching a Beaches commercial, except the actors were hot Latinos instead of bouncing blond people.

But I could feel my stomach getting bigger and bigger.

I had to do it…no choice. Didn’t need a muffin top overflowing the waist of my pants. So I unbuttoned the top button of my jeans and sighed.

After a while I went to use the facilities and as I tried to fit my stomach back into my pants the top copper button flew out. I’m not a big girl by any means, but it shot out like a bullet. Granted they were older jeans, but they were Lucky Brand. These buttons were authentic hardware woven into my vintage pants with steel-like thread. Must have used some hard detergent and it loosened it accidentally

No. Not it. Let’s stop playing these games. The button just couldn’t take it anymore. Powerful spring rolls. 

In any case I found it near the bathtub and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to place it on top of the toilet tank. So as I reached over to put it there I heard a plop and then a clank hit the toilet.


My cell phone had decided to jump ship and drown itself in the toilet. Now I’m nothing like Howard Hughes, Howie Mandel, or Monk with that OCD crazy clean factor, but toilet water is not appealing. I was going to let it drown but I figured I needed the pictures on the phone camera more than anything else. So I plunged in and quickly rinsed the phone off in regular sink water. I figured it drowned already what’s a little more water going to do. Then I disinfected my hands with massive amounts of soap. It said antibacterial on the bottle, so I was hoping it did its scientific thing. If there were Comet or Ajax I’d be up to my elbows on that one, but I thought anitbacterial…99.9 percent is all right.

I figured after my button and phone, it was time to call it a night. Besides I had to make it back in time to feed the baby when she woke up at her regular midnight-what’s-up-mom routine. I also wanted to get my phone as dry as possible, perhaps use my Con-Air Infiniti blow dryer, which was so successful with my computer.

All in all it was a good night. And then I returned and just like clockwork midnight approached and there was the baby sending out the blissful sounds of  whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa through the airwaves. Toys everywhere. Bottles on the counter. Dishes in the sink.

I’m glad I took an extra cookie to go. I should have taken a spring roll too.

My Near-Death Pinkberry Experience

8 Jan

“You want a swirlee?” My friend asks as we pass by a frozen yogurt store. “Ha ha…just kidding.”

To most people this is not funny. I don’t find it too hilarious myself, but it does spark a chuckle when I remember what happened…


pinkberry (Photo credit: donnjmck)

I’d been sick for a while now, but thought I was getting better seeing how I only coughed 15 to 20 times the last hour, I thought I would reward myself with something sweet. Chocolate is usually my go-to celebration, but I figured I’d be healthy and go for some swirlee frozen yogurt.

So I headed to The Americana. For those of you from Los Angeles, it’s similar to The Grove except it’s in Glendale with the same fancy smancy Gucci and Prada people. For those of you who aren’t…it’s an open air shopping, dining, and entertaining piazza with cobblestone pathways, grassy knolls, bronze statues, and water fountains. Totally not a hangout for a Sporty Spice like myself, but figured they’d have some tasty treats.

I noticed a Pinkberry Store and thought aha! It was meant to be, and even though I was wearing a track suit (looking like Run DMC) I thought I could still fit in with the high-life Gucci, Prada, Coach people. So I ordered a kid’s size with granola, coconut, and melon. I figured I would walk back to my car and eat it instead of staying there. I probably enjoyed three or four spoonfuls before it happened…

As I approached the intersection something happened where I felt I couldn’t breathe…I was gasping for air, like those people in JAWS when they’re going down and they’re drowning but I was on land and there was no shark.

I guess the coconut or granola went down the wrong pipe or something. I was gasping for what felt like forever, before I signaled to the lady standing near me “hey…I think I’m choking over here can you smack the shit out of my back for a minute?” I thought it was a pretty universal signal seeing how I was gasping for air, waving my arms, and pointing to my back…she gave me the tap-tap-tap.

     Duuuuuuuude! Con ganas man!

I guess some Latino teenager and his girlfriend noticed that: A) I was gasping, clinging to the crosswalk pole and my life, and B) the older white lady didn’t have enough umph in her non Gucci whacking hand, that he stepped in and began smacking my back. I started coughing and something came loose and I finally started to get some air. 

     “Wow are you O.K.?” He asked.  “You gave us a scare there?”

      I waved my hand and smiled as I contined coughing.

     “Thanks,” I said hoarsely. “I really appreciate it. Thanks.”

     “Are you sure?”

     “Yeah I’m sure I just need a minute.” 

      And so I kept coughing.

The minute wasn’t really to gain my composure or thank God or anything. It was about the urine. Did you know that when you cough that hard you can actually pee in your pants. Yeah…urine. I didn’t think I would be peeing in my pants until I was 70-something. But apparently I did…in broad day light. There I was at the Americana corner among Prada, Coach, and Gucci people getting the crap smacked out of me because a Pinkberry topping went down the wrong way and as I started getting air, warm urine drizzled down the inside of my legs. I guess it would have been O.K. if the pants were black or dark blue or even if I was wearing jeans, but no…. there I was with a pinche sky blue track suit where if a Macy’s perfume lady spritzes you, it looks like you were on Splash Mountain…So there I was…toda miada for the whole Armenian and White population to see. What could I do?

Pooooooooooooos nada.

 I crossed the street in my miados–my urine stained pants which were not so warm anymore– and walked back to my car. I figured only something like this could happen to me when I actually had an hour to myself…my “alone time” away from the kids. It’s amusing being the Guat sometimes, and others…well…
Note to self….watch out for those Pinkberry toppings. If you’re a nerd like me, you’ll probably need someone close by to smack the crap out of you.