My View From The Bus

October 22,2019

 

Last evening as I was

washing my dinner

dishes, my mind

wondered.

I had just finished a
delicious Greek salad, I
had made. And, I thought
how did my palette
become so versatile and
well rounded. Especially
since I come from very
humble beginnings. And,
we ate pretty simple
dishes like rice, beans,
sopas, fried potatoes,
spaghetti, fish sticks,
tuna casserole, caldo de
res, birria, fried chicken,
meatloaf, tacos,
enchiladas, etc. You get
the picture.
I can taste any dish and
discern the spices and
herbs within a few
minutes, and sometimes
it may take a few
attempts, but I usually
learn how to make it.
Another skill I honed as a
child is that I can discern
what’s in the cupboard
and refrigerator and
invent a meal using
what’s at hand. And, it
will be delicious, maybe
simple, but delicious, of
course, depending on
what’s available.
I recall being very young,
and watching Mi Mama
cook I enjoyed hanging
out with her in the folds
of Mi Mama’s warmth
and our kitchen. By age
ten or earlier I was
cooking for my siblings.
I know this was birthed in
my passion for food as a
young girl which has only
evolved to now.
I also know I get easily
bored and I need a wide
variety of flavors. I love
exploring different
recipes, herbs, spices
and flavors.
I often wonder when
women say, “I don’t
know what to cook for
dinner, tonight?” My
problem is I usually have
ten different ideas I’d like
to prepare.
I recall at Humboldt
State being exposed to
fresh fish the likes of
halibut, crab and salmon.
I was wild about crab
dipped in butter with a
crusty baguette.
I don’t recall eating fresh
fish at home. My limited
patethic introduction to
fish was our typical fish
stick dinner on Fridays
with white rice, served
with canned corn or
coleslaw.
Another, profound
experience was while a
student, I was poor and
struggling. I would ride
the city bus from
downtown Sacramento
to Sacramento State to
attend classes.
At the end of my day, on
my route home we made
a drop-off stop directly
in front of a popular deli
named, Sam’s Hof Brau.
Unlike today’s names of
Namaste,  just doesn’t
fit.
Seated on the bus I had a
birds eyes view of people
eating these humungous
sandwiches with a pickle
in their basket
accompanied with a mug
of beer, as if a child
peering in through a
window at toys they
desire for Christmas.
I use to think one day
when I have enough
money I’m going to go in
there and order one of
those sandwiches, since
I had never had anything
like that. In time, the day
arrived and I was in line
and overwhelmed with
all the choices. I ordered
one of those mile high
sandwiches with thin
shaved meat on this
delicious roll with a
pickle in the basket, just
like I had seen from the
bus window. I selected
the perfect seat, directly
in front, in my attempt to
relive the experience I
had viewed from my bus
seat. So I could re-live
the full experience.
I proceeded to slather
my sandwich from a
small jar of mustard. I’m
not quite sure what
compelled me to do that.
I took my first bite and
my mouth was on fire,
my sandwich was
uneatable. I had ruined
my much awaited
sandwich. I’m sure there
was a lesson here.
 It was very hot mustard
similar to those that
belong in a Chinese
restaurant, not here.
I was underage so I did
not even have a beer to
help ease the pain. I
ended up tossing it and
walking out in complete
disappointment.
You can only imagine my
tristeza!
Eventually, I was able to
re-live many positive
experiences at Sam’s
Hof Brau and finally got
my sandwich that I had
intently been eyeballing
for awhile from the bus.
Shortly after I was
introduced to the Ruben
sandwich another
favorite when the rye
bread is right.
While at Sacramento
State; crepes, fondue
and sukiyaki were
popular and new found
introductions. I could
order a big bowl of
sukiyaki for $4. or $5.
And this restaurant was
just around the corner
from my I’m
embarrassed to admit
cucaracha infested
apartment. But, it was my
reality, it cost me $90. a
month and that’s what I
could afford.
Now I don’t want you to
get the idea that I was
eating gourmet meals
every evening. I was poor
and these were far and in
between visits to
restaurants in the five
years I was in
Sacramento. Most of my
meals consisted of eggs
and bologna sandwiches
and large group
barbecues where we all
pitched in since the
majority of us were
in the same boat; poor
and struggling.
On another occasion I
had a date who took me
to Zorba the Greek. I
ordered the lamb shish-
ka-bobs with rice pilaf
for the first time.
Fortunately, we did eat
lamb growing up, we
raised a few. But, had
never tasted these exotic
flavors.
I ate the most
scrumptious flavored
chunk of meat as the
flirtatious women
twisted, shimmied, and
circled around our table
dancing in their colorful
jingally costumes.
I was so taken by these
marinated flavors of
cumin, oregano, with
onion, bell pepper and
mushrooms. Grilled to
perfection.
I kindly asked the
waitress for the recipe.
She responded she
wasn’t sure. And, shortly
returned with the chef
himself, who
enthusiastically shared
his recipe with me. For
the next month that’s all I
wanted to eat. Obviously,
this was not within my
budget, but occasionally
made it with beef on a
small hibachi I had.
In time I perfected my
recipe.
While in Sacramento I
took many trips to
concerts in the Bay Area
with friends and had the
luxury of eating paella
for the first time, in the
Mission District. It cost
$7. for a huge plate and
enough for two people. I
had never eaten
anything so delicious in
my life.
My amigos knew I could
cook and occasionally
they would buy groceries
so I could cook tacos,
enchiladas, pozole,
menudo and I also
learned how to make
paella once I tasted it. Of
course this was a college
student version with
mainly shrimp, none the
less, very delicious. In
time I perfected my
recipe and introduced
my family to paella.
Shish-ka-bobs were
the dish that started my
life long quest of flavors
from diverse cultures in
1972/73. I have eaten
and experimented with
dishes from all of these
cultures: Chinese
Japanese, Korean,
Indian, Greek, Thai
Vietnamese, Portuguese,
Italian, French, Spanish,
Austrian, Swiss, German
and Mexican.
I love the delicacy and
fresh fish of Japanese
food. I recall going to a
Japanese restaurant
where we were seated in
a private room and sat on
the floor on cushions,
nearby where I lived in
downtown Sacramento.
This was a different
restaurant than the one
that specialized in
sukiyaki, but it was all in
the same hood around T
Street and 9th.
I love the herbs and
spiciness of Korean, Thai
and Vietnamese dishes. I
had a neighbor who
taught me a few Korean
dishes, she made a black
bean paste soup with
anchovies. It was hot
also.
I love stuffed grape
leaves, falafels and in
time was introduced to
baklava a delicious
sweet treat. We have
taken cooking classes in
Provence, Cabo San
Lucas and Algarve,
Portugal that were
phenomenal.
I love the cheeses, all the
pastries, wine and the
farmer’s markets of
France, Italy and Spain.
I have very fond
memories of a small
French bistro I would
frequent in Paso Robles,
Bistro Laurent.
There my memories
came to life of our time
spent in France. Where
food is not merely
viewed as food but, a
collective experience.
Of course I prefer going
with Mi Corazon, but
once in awhile after a
long day at the winery I
would dine solo in his
absence.
I love to learn how other
cultures cook fresh in
season food. Because in
the process of learning
and exploring food,
cooking it and eating it,
you learn and grow;
about culture and
people.
Where you allow the
seasons to determine
your menu. It is my
passion. It’s in my DNA.
It’s so me.
Abrazos y Besos
Thank You, Father

Published by

abrazosybesosblog

I am perpetually creative, and my eyes “feel” art everywhere. Who am I, I am an open book. I believe that sharing “from the heart” with one another is what connects us, heals us, and inspires us! My love for my Lord, family, friends, cooking, crafting, gardening/nature, vintage, sewing and different cultures; these passions and too many more to list, have moved my hand to paper, thus, Abrazos y Besos. In addition to a nudge by my baby sister, Dudies. My last name is Hug which means Abrazo in Spanish, hence the name of my blog: “Abrazos y Besos” translating to “Hugs & Kisses.” I will focus on our personal life journey with Mi Corazon (Augie Hug) sprinkled with love, spice and fun. Please tune in. Philippians 4:13 New King James Version (NKJV) 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

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