Lourdes, thinking I still didn’t understand, reached into the pantry and extracted some masa harina and proceeded to make a few simple chochoyotes. She added enough water to the masa to make a simple moist dough and then made a small ball out a piece of the dough and flattened it slight and put a dimple in the center. When made about six of these and dropped them in the chicken and tomato sauce and cooked them for about ten minutes. I began to flash on the correspondences between Italian and Mexican cooking, almost closer then Mexican and Spanish. Certainly I had chicken rollatine or saltum buuco equivalents stewing in a sauce my Italian American grandmother would have understood completely and now we were adding what for all the world looked and tasted like gnocchi. I was very very happy and dinner was looking just a little Venetian.
Before we let Lourdes leave, I implore her to show me how to make agua fresca de Jamaica. My efforts were completely satisfying to Bonnie and myself but were too tart for the Mexican palate. Loudes’ method was a complete revelation and an absolutely perfect beverage. While I had be steeping my hibiscus flowers for almost an hour, Loudes’ preparation was more on the order of 20 minutes. She used more sweetener then I liked ( in both case we were using honey, I used about 1/3 cup for 2 quarts of water, she used about 3/4 cup) The slam dunk, hole in one touch on her part was the additional of a 4 inch piece of canela and 3 cloves to the brew. Exceptionally satisfying and a simple and masterful touch. We kissed Lourdes goodbye and sat down for a very nice meal.
Recipes and Photos to Follow
Agua Fresca de Jamaica alla Lourdes
2 quarts water
1 cup dried jamaica flowers
1/2 cup honey
4 inch piece of canela
Combine all ingredients in a 4-quart pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Strain into pitcher. Serve well chilled and with ice cubes.