Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Overdue report

About four years ago, Gil went to the gym and overdid some weight lifting. Result, bulging disk that caused him to have to walk bent over for awhile. It healed nicely, he went back to exercising and lifting weights, and no more problems until..... Enter December 27, 2010.

While I was wisely basking in the pool at Banos with my friend Rhonda, Gil went down to the gym in our building and lifted some weights. That night, just like four years ago, he started feeling a pain in his left thigh that would go away only if he walked bent over. Fortunately, we have our wonderful Dr. Parra who sent him to Dr. Vallejo, an orthopedist, and he's now back walking upright and without pain. However, it did take a few weeks of just hanging out in the lazy boy and taking meds. But not to worry. We've still been able to enjoy lots of Ecuadorean life without having to go far from home.

On New Year's Eve, we didn't even have to leave home to see fireworks. They were right outside our window!

Some of them were so close, we closed the window for fear the sparks would come inside. Fireworks are seen all over the city. Lot's of people are setting them off.

Also, on New Year's Eve, all over the city, people burn effigies for good luck for the new year. They are now sold in booths everywhere. People buy masks to put on them. Some are of politicians, some of the devil, others of various characters. Then, they burn them out on the streets around midnight. Well, actually, they burn them all during the day. Inside of some of them are firecrackers that explode when the effigy is burning.

Here's one burning right outside our window.

The little parades are continuing, and we've seen several go past out windows.

We've been able to keep an eye on our nearest neighbor who comes everyday to the field outside our kitchen window. Here's the cow with the elderly man who brings her and fetches her everyday.

We made a few short excursions (about a block from our place) to watch some local soccer games and walk by the river.

We've watched another neighbor making friends with a car.

And we've continued to enjoy our amazing view.

The weather has been absolutely gorgeous for the last several days, so it's a good time for Gil to be back on his feet.

We have started our Spanish lessons. Our teacher is Sonia, and we take our lessons at Carolina bookstore.

We have now received our living room couch.  Pepe has started working on our coffee table, a table to go between our lazy boys, and a drawer insert for one of the drawers in my sewing room to organize my threads and sewing notions.  Next, the sewing room tables (cutting table and sewing machine table), a three-way mirror and possibly a stand for my big roll of pattern paper.  Then dining room furniture.  Once we have the coffee table, we will be able to have friends over for drinks and hors d'oeuvres, if not yet for dinner. 

Our few boxes that we shipped from the US have arrived, so I now have my sewing machine and computer, along with my favorite cooking utensils.

Speaking of cooking, my friend, and Fabian's sister-in-law, Ruth, is teaching me how to make some Ecuadorean cuisines. This week, Gil said he wanted cuy. Soooooo, we made cuy. Well, Ruth does the cooking while I take notes and watch. We have a lot of fun. In addition to the cooking lessons, she's helping me with my Spanish and I'm helping her with her English. She's a wonderful lady, and I'm so glad to have her in my life.

We bought our cuy at the Coopera where we do most of our shopping for food. Here's our packaged cuy. (the squeamish need not look).

Cuy's expensive by Ecuadorean standards. If you buy it in the store, as we did, it runs about $9.00 per pound. People in the countryside grow their own. You can also buy it at the mercados, but we thought we'd better buy a store-packaged cuy for our first experience. Ruth tells us that, just like cattle in the US, and to some extent here in Ecuador now too, most cuy sold in the stores is now grain-fed and so is not as healthy for you. Grass-fed cuy is much better for you.  Like grass-fed beef, there is less cholesterol in grass-fed cuy than in grain-fed cuy. But big cuy manufacturers feed their cuy grain because it fattens them up faster. So in the future, we may opt for mercado cuy that hopefully isn't coming from the factory cuy farms.

Here's Ruth working on the cuy in the oven.

Today, Ruth also made papas doradas and mote pillo to go with the cuy.

For those of you who don't know, mote is a mature corn kernel. In this dish, the one she's cracking an egg into, the mote is first boiled, and then mixed with sauteed green onions, a little achiote oil for color, salt, a bit of manteca de chancho (pig lard), and then egg. It's delicious. The papas doradas (golden potatoes), are potatoes that have been boiled and then mixed with onion, a garlic/cumin/salt sauce, a little milk and some achiote oil for that beautiful golden color. Achiote is a plant whose seed when crushed and mixed with oil or made into a paste adds color to food. It has a subtle flavor. It substitutes for saffron or tumeric for color.

Here's the finished cuy.

And here's Gil's plate, piled high with papas doradas, mote pillo and cuy. Served with beer, and for Gil, hot sauce.

It was absolutely delicious!!

So now I know how to make cuy. However, I have no delusions that I will be able to make it as well as Ruth does. At least not for a long time.

We are just so in love with Cuenca -- it's people, it's joy, it's beauty and it's food!!