To Abuelita With Love

Minneapolis, MN - Amalia Damgaard Cookbook: Ingredients  for the cook book here today, Wednesday, May 23, 2012. Photo by © Todd Buchanan 2012Published in Revue Magazine, May 2014 -by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard.  The movie “To Sir with Love” brings back memories of joy. When I was little, I lived for a while with my maternal grandmother in a town called Quezaltepeque in the De- partmento of Chiquimula, close to the border with El Sal- vador. One day she said that we would take Rutas Orientales, the local bus line, to Chiquimula (also the capital) to see a newly released movie. It was on Mother’s Day.

What a fortunate childhood I had living with a loving, caring, yet strict grandmother. It was easy and pleasant being in a cozy and organic environment. Quezaltepeque’s population at that time was a small fraction of what it is today, and just about everything was within walking distance—school, church, the park, the open market, etc. Everyone knew each other and barter was common. People would give a chicken or pig in exchange for goods or services.

Abue (short for abuelita, meaning little grandmother) was divorced, righteous, thrifty, self-sufficient and a good cook. She was also an en- trepreneur. She owned a shop featuring many miscellaneous necessary items. Her creativity had no limits. I would help her make papier-mâché revue mag logoflowers for funeral crowns, decorate candles for special church celebra- tions, weigh salt and sugar and tend the store. Thursdays and Sundays were market days and they were the busiest. Squealing pigs and church bells added to the hustle and bustle of the morning rush.

Although we don’t realize it at the time, our character is formed at an early age when we are receptive and undiscerning. I am deeply grateful for the teachings and unconditional love of my wise Abue. Love is passed on to us in so many ways. I also treasure the times I spent with my bisabueli- tos (great-grandparents, Abue’s par- ents) visiting their artisan sugar mill, dairy farm and coffee plantation. These experiences shaped me early on and inspired me to want to do well for myself and for other people. The chef seed was planted in me in Abue’s kitchen. My eating and cooking phi- losophy, practical and healthy, comes naturally to me before and after I graduated from Le Cordon Bleu.

In honor of Abue, bisabuelas (great-grandmothers) and all moth- ers, I share a scrumptious recipe (fol- lowing page) that I cherish which re- minds me of the many great things I learned in a peaceful and wholesome setting in the company of people who departed only physically.

¡Felíz Día de La Madre!

Platanos Cocidos – Recipe
Guatemalans eat green and ripe plantains cooked in many ways. Plantains are used for tasty
treats such as frituras de plátano verde (spicy shrimp green plan- tain fritters), or tapado Garifuna, a seafood chowder with toma- toes, green plantains and coconut. Plantains are starchier than bananas. You must cook them before you eat them. Buy plantains that are yellow and let them ripen until the peels darken almost until reaching a black color. This will take several days or up to a week. A very ripe plantain has high sugar content, and this is ideal for panfrying for this and for many other recipes. This recipe is basic and delicious and one that you can modify in various ways.