Fallen Empire

Empire

Sunrise with Empire.

Felipe and I left the US with 50,000 dollars, four suitcases and the dream of a self-sustainable life. In two years, though we had a house, 17 acres of land and no debt, we were flat broke, with only a small,(less than fifty dollars a week) finite stipend.

Though it had never been my plan to sell animals to market, our situation was dire, and Felipe determined he would raise pigs to make a living. He acquired a sow; I suggested he name her Empire, since she was to carry the weight of his endeavors. Once she birthed some daughters he bought a boar, Don Juan.  That was three years ago, during these years Empire birthed and mothered five healthy litters of piglets, and DJ fathered hundreds.

Like all animals, pigs have a fertility prime. Past their prime, they have lower birth rate, more health issues, and low milk production. Sadly, signs of age are showing in our founding couple.

Putting a pig out to pasture is not possible. Their life expectancy is 15 years or more. They become wild very quickly. They require strong expensive fences and they’re destructive and dangerous.

And so it is time for us to let Empire and DJ go.

It hurts.

Of all the difficult painful things we have done here this is the hardest that we’ve had a choice in. I love these animals, and I am indebted to them. I won’t be here when they are slaughtered, in a way I’m glad, and in part I’m not, I wish I could be here for Felipe, though he is not as sentimental as I am, I know Empire’s death will be hard for him.

I have said my good-byes and cried more times than is fitting a farmer. Thank you Empire, thank you DJ, I will pray for your swift and fear-free deaths.

Good bye, my faithful ones.

Empire's bath vsvevg.com

Empire’s bath.

Since my departure, Empire was sold to a family for a wedding feast, she left our home and died the same day. Felipe said he was relieved; she’d been suffering with a foot injury he couldn’t heal. Empire was free to roam her last 6 weeks with us, until she had to be housed to treat her foot. She spent most of her time bathing in the creek and foraging.

A benediction for Empire.

Fast Slow Food

Just a little reminder (or an introduction) if you haven’t thought about the slow food movement lately.  I love that their philosophy begins with the fundamental right to pleasure and the responsibility inherent in enjoyment.

Just a little reminder (or an introduction) if you haven’t thought about the slow food movement lately. I love that their philosophy begins with the fundamental right to pleasure and the responsibility inherent in enjoyment.

Our philosophy

 

We believe that everyone has a fundamental right to pleasure and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of food, tradition and culture that make this pleasure possible. Our movement is founded upon this concept of eco-gastronomy – a recognition of the strong connections between plate and planet.

 

Slow Food is good, clean and fair food. We believe that the food we eat should taste good; that it should be produced in a clean way that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health; and that food producers should receive fair compensation for their work.

 

We consider ourselves co-producers, not consumers, because by being informed about how our food is produced and actively supporting those who produce it, we become a part of and a partner in the production process.

I  used to be a serious foodie, but after years of meals that required days of preparation, dinners out made from difficult to pronounce ingredients, let alone state their country of origin, my tongue numbed. The finest meal ceased to please; I’d had too much of a good thing.

I cleansed my palate with simplicity.  A tortilla with lime and salt. A potato baked with an egg in it, the creamy yolk stirred into its steaming flesh.

This is one of my favorite simple, fast food recipes, and I think, the best way to eat chicharron.

Chicarron Tacos vsvevg.com

Chicharron Taco

Chicharron

Tortilla

Salsa(I like salsa fresca)

Avocado

Mush a slice of avocado in a warm tortilla, top with a few pieces of chicharron and salsa. This is the hard part–wait for about a minute, just enough for the chicharron to absorb the salsa a little, but not so long the tortilla gets cold. Munch, make another.

 

My chicharron came courtesy of my friend George Anna Clark’s farm, Rancho La Troje, a pastured pig ranch near Puente de Ixtla. Her practices exemplify the premises of  the slow food philosophy. All of the animals are pastured the entirety of their lives, the butchering is done on site, sparing the pigs undue stress. The land is cultivated to meet the thier needs with various grains, legumes and native species, using healthful farming practices. She’s my hero.

Help support free range animal farming, visit and like George Anna’s  face book page. If you are in the Cuernavaca area look for her  bimonthly adds on CuernAds for the date and location of her Wednesday visits to sell pastured pork, organic oranges and limes.

Visit the slow food chapter in your area for  help finding great resources like Rancho La Troje.

Eat slow! Probecho!

What’s your favorite fast/slow food?

 

 

 

 

Buying Local

 

Dona Celia and Don Pedro sell fresh vegetables in La Tigra on Wednesdays.

Dona Celia and Don Pedro sell fresh vegetables in La Tigra on Wednesdays.

Our greengrocer, Dona Celia  never tires of explaining to ladies shopping at her cart that I buy Méxican food when I’m in México and American food when I’m in the US. My fellow shoppers smile and give me that “Gringa Loca” nod that all of La Tigra seems to have adopted regarding my curious habits.  Occasionally they ask why, and the Dona jumps in and explains, it’s fresher, better for local economies, and requires less gasoline. That’s the reason that befuddles them…less gasoline? Again, the nod.

Though I can’t resist Dijon mustard and Kalamata olives when I visit Tepotzlan , I do make an effort not to stray from Méxican products, produced as locally as possible. I’m fortunate to have eggs, milk, meat and cheese available from La Tigra producers, and I have a few favorite Méxican packaged products, a soy sauce made in Galeana, only 30 miles away, Valle Rodondo Box wine (for just 45 pesos!), and MO olive oil.

Recently, I added this exciting product to the nacionales list, Oso Negro Gin!  Yes, Mexican Gin! We are very excited. It’s not Hendricks , but it’s tasty and more important, it’s something different. We’re short on variety in these parts. Mexican tonic is also available, and I’ve concocted a passable Rose’s lime. Gimlet anyone?

Salud!

Salud!

 

 

Black Bear Gimlet

I cup sugar, melted in one cup water

Limes

Gin

A pinch of salt, and splash of sparkling water.

 

Pour 4 ozs gin in a shaker with ice, add 2 oz simple syrup and 2-3 teaspoons lime juice, a piece of lime and a pinch of salt. Shake the bejeezus out of it and pour into a martini glass. I leave in some of the ice because it’s so hot here, then add a splash of sparkling water and stir gently.

Salud!

 

 

 

A Unusual Gift

Dried Rattler.

Dried Rattler.

I recently received some unhappy news. One of my favorite people in the world, who is also related to me, needed surgery to remove a likely cancerous growth. Distraught, I went to my sister- in- law Chucha for a restorative hug. She gives seriously comforting hugs.

I explained my distress and the following day Felipe came home with a gift from Chucha, a hunk of dried rattlesnake. I am to eat a small piece every day to protect me from the possibility of genetically related cancer.

According to an oncologist treating a woman here in La Tigra, rattlesnake meat is one of the best cancer preventives.

How does it taste? Sort of salty, sort of rancid. Still, I’m grateful to Chucha and all her healing gifts, and I will eat every bite.

I am thrilled to report my dear friend’s prognosis was the very best it could be, and she will require no follow up therapy. Except perhaps, a hunk of dry rattlesnake meat. 🙂

Eating rattlesnake meat for my health. Probecho :P

Eating rattlesnake meat for my health. Probecho 😛