Sunday, May 9, 2010

Come And Eat: Beignets and Goat Tacos on Mothers' Day

Hello, internets. Did you make it through Mothers' Day? I hope so. I've read several thought-provoking posts on the subject in the last few days -- check out this or this or this. I've also been feeling grateful that Mothers' Day isn't a big deal in my family -- my mother had forgotten it was Mothers' Day until I called -- which I think makes it a less fraught day for me this year than it might be. (Or maybe it's just that I'm hopeful that next year will be different, thanks to the approaching IVF. I feel lucky to have that hope.)

In reading others' posts on the subject, though, I began to wonder if part of the reason Mothers' and Fathers' Days aren't big in my family is because my parents are IFers, too. Maybe they, too, got sick and tired of the holidays in the years they were trying to conceive. Maybe they chose to withdraw from them to protect themselves. Maybe the whole experience made them too aware that there's nothing fair about who does and doesn't get to celebrate those days.

When I was a child and my mother would refer to how it took her a long time to get pregnant, I shrugged it off -- obviously it didn't work quickly because the perfect combination of sperm and egg to make Wondrous Me doesn't just happen every day. I didn't think about how the wait might have made them frustrated or sad, because obviously it all worked out, right? It's only now, as I face some set-backs of my own (and so far for not nearly as long as my mother faced them, and with more medical help than she had available -- though she took what she could get: Clomid baby right here), that I begin to understand my mother a little better.

Which is, after all, a good thing to do on Mothers' Day.

Now. Please Come and Eat:

We started the morning with the kind of breakfast that you have to plan the night before: homemade beignets. We used this recipe, from a New Orleans cooking blog that hasn't lead me astray yet, and this week we learned from the tough mistakes of last week (yes, we will be big as houses soon, but HAPPY houses) and went easy on the kneading. I mixed up the dough on Saturday night, Sugar kneaded it just enough, and it sat in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, Sugar rolled it out and cut the beignets, and after they rose again, I fried them in sunflower oil.

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The blessed thing about beignets is that the recipe makes far more than we can eat ourselves. They allow us to enjoy the blessings of generosity. Last week and this, we packed up a bag of them for the Plant Whisperer, who spends this time of year raising operating funds for our community garden by luring everyone who walks within 6 blocks of the place in the gates and convincing them, in a mesmerizing display of virtuosity and salesmanship, to buy armloads of vegetable starts and blooming perennials and whatever else we've dug out of our beds for her to sell. The Plant Whisperer is no glutton, so it is especially gratifying to watch her devour food we've made.

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We also carried a bag to the friend who lent us his car to look for a place to have our wedding party. We traded the newspaper-wrapped pile of powered sugar and dough for his keys, and drove out to the ocean at Fort Tilden, where we saw feral roses, a tiny crab, and the homey and welcoming Studio 7 of the Rockaway Artists' Alliance. It was very cold and the wind was fierce and exhausting. We did not find picnic shelters or anything else convincing in the way of a party-venue (though Studio 7 would be a great spot), but we did find a beach we'd like to return to in summer. And so ended the planned part of our day and our eating.

Since the friend of Automotive Generosity assured us he didn't need the car before midnight, we decided to bite the bullet and go buy the IKEA dining room chairs we'd been considering, despite the fact that the best color had been discontinued. Our current dining room chairs, found in Chicago alley several years ago, are vintage charmers, with turquoise vinyl upholstery and elegant chrome legs. Under the vinyl, the wooden seats are giving out, such that a slight shift in body weight can cause the legs to suddenly give way, tossing the erstwhile-seated guest floorward. The back legs extend too far back for our small apartment, and I've never felt the same about them since breaking my toe on one. We were hungry, but IKEA has cheap and acceptable food.

IKEA Brooklyn is in the remote neighborhood called Red Hook, known for its giant grocery store, its semi-decrepit shipping works, and for the best Central American food in the city, cooked by the vendors who come to the soccer fields there every summer weekend, selling elotes and pupusas and agua fresca to the Latin American families who come to play and watch the soccer games, and to people like us, who just like to eat well. We make the walk -- except for the shuttle buses and water taxis IKEA now runs, public transit to the area is dismal -- through the heat, over the stinking Gowanus canal, and under the rumbling Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the summer time, but as it's several unpleasant miles from our neighborhood, we don't go as often as I'd be happy to eat the tacos and huaraches and ceviche sold there. I'm embarrassed to admit that we may not have gone at all last year, but I thought as I drove through the gnarls of traffic under the BQE that I'd have to do better this year, despite the sweaty, gritty walk, make a point of coming once the vendors arrived in June.

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In the old days, before the city made them replace the tarps with trucks

at the huarache stand
At the huarache stand.


And then, like a dream, they were there: despite the cold and the wind, the vendors' trucks were lined up at the park, dispensing quesadillas and horchata and my favorite of all: goat tacos.

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And the goat was sweet and tender, Sugar's tacos al pastor complex in their spices, and the watermelon agua fresca divine. A meal of grace: something you can't possibly plan for or make happen or even deserve, that you get to have anyway.

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So...what are you eating this week? Paste the address of your food-related post in here, and we'll all come over to eat! (Please place a * after your name if your post is about pregnancy or children, for the sake of any in the ALI community who are presently in The Bad Place.)

12 comments:

  1. I love that just by being lazy and slow I get to appear in BOTH WEEKS!

    That's some beautiful food and seems to go along with a beautiful life. I had some pleasant times eating beignets with my mother in New Orleans, which even caused me to have some brief fond feelings towards my mama.

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  2. Man, I've been dying for a good taco! Just for the record, I tried last week to do a food post but couldn't get the damn picture to cooperate! But I'll try again this week (although it promises to be a week completely void of culinary inspiration) I promise!

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  3. Those beignets look great! I love that you were able to share them with everyone. The Plant Whisperer especially. Community gardens are fantastic.

    I am just loving these Come & Eat posts. :)

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  4. Yum.

    I swear I will get around to taking part one of these days.

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  5. starhillgirl, i'll have you know that Sugar is a bit disappointed that they don't offer fish.

    twangy -- pretty please?

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  6. and nicole -- you've got to get yourself to red hook. it's like nothing else in the city. you can take the ikea water taxi from wall street, for maximum gloriousness.

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  7. I so so so so miss me some good tacos. But I will say I am not sure I'd like goat tacos. I don't know if I ever ate goat? Would I eat goat? Maybe after seeing that yummy picture. You girls are just a pair of fun mamas for real! Thanks for sharing your lovely mothers day and eats. xoxo

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  8. That looks really good! There have been a few blogs I've read flaunting their fresh-made beignets, and i am terribly tempted to try.

    I think I am now adventurous enough to try a goat taco. I tried venison this year and loved it.

    Just got my copies of Mastering The Art of French Cooking- will have to join in when I finally start cooking from it.

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  9. oh, please do! i still don't have that one -- which is ridiculous for many reasons, including that i lived in julia child's dorm room at college -- but i highly recommend the boeuf bourguignon recipe. the pearl onion recipe is genius. now one of my "crap, how do i make this into a nice meal?" standbys.

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  10. Hi Bionic Baby Mama, my post is up!

    Twangy and Wishy, I am waiting for you to join us!

    Wanders off to read Starhill Girl's post....

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  11. OMG, all that food looks so good!

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