How wonderful! I was really feeling blue and in a lot of pain, messaging on Facebook like a madwoman back and forth with my good friend Alyssa. She just happens to be one of the most inventive cooks I know, as well as a world traveler, an art lover and collector, and an ultra-well educated nurse who for no fault of her own has fallen on hard times financially. To which I can completely relate. So I was telling her my tales of woe, when she suddenly popped the question: Dinner? Mole? My answer was foreordained. I love Mexican, especially Alyssa’s sophisticated take on simple fare, and I badly needed her company and that of her faithful but somewhat hairless canine companion, Jazz. The hairlessness is hopefully temporary!
Not only did Alyssa fix a fabulous repast of chicken meatballs in mole, Basmati rice, sweet corn and other wonderful dishes, but she also went out into her garden (she lives in a ground floor apartment in a complex in a private corner at the end and has made free with the “yard” in front of her windows: herbs of all sorts and a flag garden of places she’s been–many many places!) and picked me fresh herbs to take home and then packed up Basmati rice to go with them, threw in the terrific original Basmati burlap bag that I was ogling and envying–it is perfect for my place and I love found art, whether it be textiles or other media. Then she topped it all off with a long-term loan of a beautiful art book: “Charles Burchfield’s Seasons,” by Guy Davenport. I’m pretty sure Alyssa said that Burchfield hails from her home town, Buffalo NY. She knows that I love watercolors, and Burchfield was a master of that medium. The cover print is to die for!
Many of us are lucky enough to know Mexico or Mexican cooking as more than mere tourists. Thus we know that the chocolate sauce called “mole” originated in the city of Puebla, MX, where my long-time friend and a former math prof at Ohio State, Jose Luis Carballido, was born and has returned to. His many years in El Norte (he got his master’s at M.I.T., not a very warm place in several senses of the word) wore him down and he decided to return to his homeland, which just HAPPENS to be the home of mole!
UPDATE June 27, 2016: I finally got a photo of Alyssa with her friend Milo, which is the featured photo for this post. Yay!!!