Swallowtails

Second in a series from my work in progress.
The first obstacle was learning to maintain food without refrigeration. Fortunately, my mother-in-law had much knowledge to share, having lived many years without electricity. I learned to keep my cooked beans under water, and to fry or re-boil them any time they were touched. I kept my milk fresh by boiling and re-boiling as well; we had milk cows, it will stay unturned for two days with this method. The sour milk I used for baking and animal food. We relinquished the idea of a cold beverage, no easy task in southern Mexico’s heat.

Life becomes significantly more labor intensive without electricity, especially when your weekly budget, which was 300 pesos a week at the time, does not allow for convenience anything. I learned to rely on my knives and molcajete (a lava stone mortar and pestle) instead of my blender and spice grinder. Because I had no refrigeration, I could not make a pot of food other than beans and have a few meals for the week, nor were there any bits of this or that to remake or fill out a meal. I could not even grind masa in advance. This meant every meal was made from scratch—handmade tortillas, molcajete salsas, hand squeezed juices all made at the moment, every meal, every day.

I must admit we ate questionable foods during these months. Continue reading