Things always happen in the least expected way and never as we imagine they will. In my mind, September 15th promised to be a terrible day, being away from my family and friends, and with this huge nostalgia for Mexico that, for the first time in this journey, took over me in all its strength and helped me to wake up earlier than usual –which was surprisingly easy, by the way– as I walked to and through the market of Balneario Camboriu (the Brazilian town where I am) picking up ingredients to cook mexican dishes.
As the afternoon came by, I decided to celebrate in my own way. I bought a Mexican beer that, although it’s not my favorite one, I thought of it as a good start into this celebration. After lunch, I told my friends and acquaintances in Brazil that today was Independence Day in Mexico and that this particular year it was the celebration of the Bicentennial of it. I’m pretty sure I transmitted the meaning of this holiday for everyone born in Mexico because, besides the fact I couldn’t stop smiling and telling how superior Mexico is in the culinary realm –I always do this, but today I was doing it more eagerly– and how great the festivities and traditions are, I told them that, despite the numerous uncertainties in Mexico weren’t a reason for celebration at all, Mexico is a country with enough folklore, customs and traditions to keep everyone happy no matter the uncertainties around.
In the short period of time I’ve been here, I’ve learned to appreciate the importance of our appetizers or, as we call them in Mexico, our antojitos. I think is what I miss the most. Of course that eating a more elaborated dish would be awesome, as well as having the opportunity of visiting the new venue property of the great Martha Chapa, Dulce Patria, for which I must say Congratulations! But now is when I fully acknowledge the greatness of those simple dishes such as sopes, chalupes, tlayudas, tlacoyos, and so on. Don’t be to hasty to judge them, for it’s simplicity is, without any doubt, a very important part of their charm. And then, the best of these dishes is the universality they have, for each and everyone of this preparations can be enjoyed by everyone. The taste, the ingredient mixing, the use of sauces, cheeses or extra elements make them a unique composition that, after being lucky enough to travel outside of Mexico on several occasions, today I can feel absolutely proud of that Mexican cuisine that feels so personal.
I ended up cooking for friends and my coworkers at the restaurant because, as you can imagine, I wasn’t going to eat these delights by myself. Sadly, you can’t find green tomatoes where I live, so I couldn’t prepare a traditional green sauce, but I was able to get a red one ready using the “chilis” available here which, I have to say it, they got nothing to do against the great variety we find in Mexico’s markets offering chilis such as serrano, jalapeno, ancho, arbol, habanero and the rest of that very long list of options. I can tell you that everyone was fascinated with what I prepared and, if it wasn’t enough, I made them molletes with the required Pico de Gallo sauce. No one could believe the flavors they were experiencing. I can’t imagine the day I prepare them the classic chilaquiles… they will want to raise a statue for me!
Then, after a nice lunch like that, after work I invited them to watch the parade that was held in Mexico city due to the celebrations. Fortunately, an international TV network was aware of the importance of this festivity and they chose to broadcast every minute of it. From the parade to the concerts, the inauguration of the “El Coloso” statues (which caused me a large amount of questions about who he was or whom was representing), the fireworks and finally, the representation of that historical call for arms. Of course, because of the time difference, it was already 2 o’clock in the morning when this was happening so to prevent my guests from sleeping or getting bored, and to keep the tone of this Mexican holiday, after drinking some beers, it was time for a bottle of Tequila that joined us for our “Viva Mexico” yells, party and nostalgia.
Things always happen in the least expected way and never as we imagine they will. What I thought it would be a terrible September 15th ended up being a different experience filled with joy, taste and tradition even when I’m thousands of miles away from my homeland. I thought I would be sad today but the truth is that, beyond the consequences of tequila and late partying that I felt the very next morning, it was clear that traditions, taste, festivity and love for Mexico is inside of us and it’s so big that we can share it and spread it on every corner of the world. And yes… I would be lying if I tell you that I wasn’t a little bit uncomfortable when, surfing through the social networks, I came across pictures of my friends and family celebrating this holiday in their very own way. Those pictures of places filled with colors, smiles, lights and fireworks made me a little home sick and, I must confess, a little jealous. However, a smile started to appear in my face a moment later. Why? Just try to answer the following question: Guess where the biggest carnival in the world is held?
From Camboriú, with love