There is not much to say about the corn, but it is so good it deserves its own blog entry. Street vendors sell great corn. I am avoiding street vendors while I am pregnant so I got mine at a cook out.
The corn is cooked in the husk over an open fire. All of the corn is placed in a big kettle and stirred with a big stick until it is done. When the corn is done is can be eaten in two forms, either on the cob or scraped into a cup like cream corn. It is not only the cooking method but the toppings that make the corn good. The corn can be topped with butter, sour cream, shredded white cheese, salt, chile, and even lime. It is definitely worth trying. I shouldn’t recommend street vendors so I am not but if you are with some one you trust who can recommend a vendor try it. It is like the corn they show the guy eating in the awful and dumb movie Nacho Libre.
The primary Mexican diet consists of carbohydrates. Rice, beans, tortilla–oh and some form of meat. It is surprising how many people do not know that beans are a carbohydrate and not a protein. I worked at a clinic and was discussing with some of the medical assistants and non-medical staff that even though rice and beans make a complex carbohydrate, beans are still a carbohydrate. They did not believe me until the doctor confirmed what I was saying.
Anyway back to rice, beans, and tortillas. Mexicans don’t seem to eat many vegetables. When they do it is lettuce, cucumber and occasionally corn. I will talk about Mexican corn later because it is amazing.
I remember growing up in Texas at all the Tex-Mex restaurants and even at home we would have this knock off version of rice. It was red with some unidentifiable objects in it. I always avoided it. It was not until my good friend made rice was for me that I realized what this red stuff was supposed to be. She cooks her white rice with water, oil, and salt. If she wants a tomato flavor she will add a tomato bullion cube or tomato puree.
She also makes other amazing rices using the same method of cooking. She will add onion and garlic. Sometimes she adds a chicken bullion to this. I think she also has some secret ingredient because it always turns out perfect. Of course lime can be squeezed over any of these varieties because lime and chile are added to most foods. At others times she adds sour cream to already cooked rice and it is very good. All the rice I have had so far in Mexican is very good even though I prefer whole grain rices.
Beans can be bought pre-boiled at any of the little corner stores. You just have to choose who you trust to have good beans. They come in either a plastic container or bag. Of course you can make them yourself at home with water, salt, oil, and a little garlic and onion. The dried beans can be bought anywhere and they are pretty inexpensive. If you choose to buy them pre-cooked they can easily be turned into refried beans. They are first pureed with a little juice and then put in a skillet with oil or lard. My friend uses canola oil because she is trying to be a little healthier. You can buy olive oil in Mexico though, we will have to try that some time. Anyway they are cooked in the skillet with the oil until they are how you want them, hopefully not too long or they will dry out.
Tortillas can either be corn made from Maiza (this is corn flour, very different from corn meal and will not work for cornbread–I tried) or flour made from horina (normal white flour). Or it is pretty easy just to walk down to the tortilla shop and buy them pre-made. In Mexico corn tortillas are used more often. Sometime my friend is going to teach me how to make tortillas but that has not been a necessity yet. I will learn before we leave Mexico. My cousin Joy, who is married to a Texan from Mexican descent, makes the best flour tortillas in the world. Her mother-in-law taught her. When I was teaching my friend in Mexico how to make a pie crust she said it was pretty similar to making tortillas. Someday we will see.
There are all kinds of fruit drinks available in Mexico and they are pretty simple to make. It is just adding water and sugar to taste. This is the same as making lemonade or sweet tea. The different types of fruit I have tasted made into an agua include: papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, orange, lime, pineapple, and cucumber (a vegetable).
The fruit is either squeezed or peeled and pureed. Then water and sugar are added. The seeds need to be completely removed from the papaya but the cantaloupe and watermelon can be pureed with the seeds. The result is then strained to remove crunchy seed particles. A pineapple must be cored and all the peel must be removed, any little brown left on the pineapple make it bitter.
The cantaloupe and papaya can be mixed with milk instead of water to make a creamy drink. A virgin pina colada is made by adding coconut milk, evaporated milk, and a little regular milk to the pineapple. If canned pineapple is used then one does not even need to add sugar.
These are all very tasty. The cooler they are the more refreshing. I am sure mango would be a tasty drink as well I have not tried it yet.
I definitely have the nicest doctor in the world. I guess in Mexico they don’t teach the class in medical school on how to be a jerk. I called my doctor today to talk about my lab results, and he said he would check and to call him back in 45 minutes. When I called back, he was busy with a patient in labor. He was so incredibly apologetic that he did not have time to check the labs.
It is very different than the states. I would never have my doctors cell phone number or get to talk to him. I would only talk to the nurse unless it was a major necessity or one of the doctors at Health Intervention Services, because they are so are wonderful too.
I am very grateful for the doctor I have to deliver my baby. Not only is he very smart and relaxed, but he also actually cares about his patients too.
We went to Soriana and bought a frozen chicken which had been smoked. They had frozen turkey for prices comparable to the States but we decided a chicken would be good enough. They also had roasting pans and the Reynold's turkey bags available to cook the turkey in. They also had the little packets for making brown gravy.
I was able to find a can of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce for $20 pesos. It was good. We did not have stuffing or dressing to go with it. I could not find the spices for the stuffing, besides I don't like it. I could not find any cornmeal in order to make cornbread dressing. But we had our cranberry sauce with chicken, mashed potatoes, rolls, and a green bean casserole.
The green bean casserole was slightly different because I could not find the friend onions that go on top. I used potato chips instead, Ruffles to be exact. It turned out okay, a bit salty for me.
No pumpkin pie though. I did not see pumpkins whole or canned. Of course it would not have been worth it to me to make it from a whole pumpkin. I did find some frozen strawberries and made a pretty good strawberry pie which we topped with ice cream. It was not the traditional pumpkin or pecan but it worked. Actually we were so full after the meal we did not the pie until the next day.
I made sweet tea out of Earl Grey tea. Peppermint and Earl Grey are the only two types I can find decaffeinated, no plain old tea. Anyway it turned out pretty good.
I had lab work done. It cost $440 pesos at the private hospital. This included urine, complete blood count, and the glucose tolerance test. The glucose is different here, they do not put the orange or cola flavoring in it. It was like drinking honey with extra sugar added, it was fine.
The hospital looked very nice and small. The people were all very kind and the lab technician was very proficient the two times she stuck me for different tests. We got the lab results 45 minutes after they were performed. I have to call the doctor today to discuss them with him.
We took a walk while we were waiting for the lab results.The neighborhood around the hospital was pleasant there were two other hospitals within walking distance. All of the houses had nice yards with either gardens or grass.
Today was our first Spanish lesson with a very nice lady who is an administrator at the American school here in town. We learned how to take a taxi and look for a house to rent. She is charging us $50 pesos a piece for an hour. I think that is a good price because she actually spent more time with us than she charged us. She also may have some contacts for us to find a house to rent.
Two interesting things happened. The first being that she is the only person we have met in Mexico that was on time to a meeting. The second being that the fluorescent light caught on fire during our lesson. She calmly told us to wait outside while she found someone to take care of it and we continued our lesson.
The place where we met her was the American school in Spanish it is Colegio de America of Durango. It is a private school. Most of the teachers they have at this present time are from the United States and they teach in English. The teachers sign a 2 year contract but at the end of the first year they are offered the ability to quit. They are provided with furnished housing as well as a salary, which she was unaware of the amount. There are over 600 student from elementary through high school. The school looked very nice.
We went to my second doctors visit, it went well. Our friends came to meet us to help translate but the doctor was not there. He was stuck at the hospital, I think. Our friends had to leave so we had to wing it. I started out speaking in Spanish with the doctor and then I got lost. So Mark started speaking in English and the doctor joined in. It went well.
We got a dvd of the ultrasound this time and he ordered lab work. It only cost $300 pesos this time. I have to go to the lab first thing in the morning so they can get my first void of urine. This is different from the states, they would have given me a specimen container to take in the lab with me. So it will be interesting to see the differences in my lab experience. The doctor is really laid back. I think it is because here no own sues. I told him we were going to the States for Christmas and asked if it was ok. He basically said well I see you whenever I see you.
My dog had yellow drainage from her eye yesterday. This morning my friend set up an appointment for me at the vet. He was very nice. He did a thorough exam of her eyes, ears, and whole body. He asked to make sure her shots were up to date. He gave her ant inflammatory shot and then sent us home with antibiotic eye drops. He wants her to return for a follow up visit tomorrow. He did speak English so it went smoothly. He has an amazing love for animals that I had not seen in many people here nor in the vets in the states. It only cost $200 pesos including the follow up visit for tomorrow. It was called Granville Veterinary Clinic. My friends say it is one of the more expensive ones in town but for me it is worth it. So if you are here and need a very good and loving veterinarian give them a call.
ApartmentYesterday the realtor called and said she had found us an apartment close to our friends. We went with her to see it. It was nice 3 bedroom 1.5 bath and only for $3000 pesos a month. It seemed fairly new. The rooms were small so it would not take long to clean. There was a little patio area for us to put the washer and cloths line. There was no accessible grass that we could see. The view out the upstairs windows had a grassy area with some trees. That is very good for the soul when grass is such a rarity but it also reminded me of the saying "water water everywhere but not a drop to drink." Grass grass that I can see but no place for my dog to go potty. The apartment had a non-covered gated parking area. The street it was on did have some abandoned houses. Because it is downtown there would probably be scorpion around. It is still an option but we want to see more. We still have yet to see the one where the lady did not show up. It does have a little yard with grass.