Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta cooking. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta cooking. Mostrar todas las entradas

martes, 15 de noviembre de 2016

State visit

   Everyone at the airport was ready. The staff had put on their best clothes and every single corner of the small terminal building had been cleaned to the last millimeter. From very early in the morning, people had arrived to help organize every single part of this impromptu visit. After all, it was the president of the most powerful country in the world. And theirs was one of the poorest and most isolated ones on the whole planet. However, the presidential plane had to refuel somewhere, so the small nation had received the honor of hosting the president for a few hours.

 From the moment they had been warned about the impending arrival of the plane, hundreds of people were put to work. Not only those in the airport, people who only really worked on weekdays and even then only in certain time frames, but also every single operator and technician available. They wanted not only the people to feel welcomed but also to make the best work possible with the plane. They got fuel from the city’s reserves, as the amount they had on the airport was not enough to refill a plane the size of the one they were going to see in a few hours.

 The process required almost every person in the capital, a city of about a thousand people, to wake up and also help by cleaning the streets of the city and the authorities enabling the movement of fuel reserves from where they stored it to the airport, which was fairly close to the city. People took to the streets with brooms and mops and every single cleaning help they could get, but the truth was no one really knew if the president was going to land and stay on the plane or walk around a little bit. Many people were curious like that.

 The president of the tiny nation was the one that was moving all over his house, calling the right people and asking everything from food to more cleaning products. He wanted to send a message through TV but the people of the studios were helping around so he decided to send it through the radio. It was much simpler and more effective; as it was the medium of communication that people listened to while they were preparing the city for the big arrival. Every single person in the country heard it and everyone understood the importance of the visit.

 To the eyes of the world, it was practically a miracle that their country actually existed. To be honest, it had been a thing of luck and one of those strange coincidences that happen out of nowhere. They were too isolated and unimportant. Practically everything they had came from their neighbor to the east. So they had known starvation and real poverty because when that neighbor didn’t have enough for themselves, they suffered too. But the world in general never really knew anything because they weren’t watching, until now.

 The country had no army but its people did behave like one once the president’s message had reached every single person. They knew they had around six hours to have everything ready. With luck, the weather up in the clouds would delay the plane a bit more to give them more time but they constantly checked with the aircraft and that didn’t seem to be the case. Everyone had to do their best in the time given. Only an hour after the president’s announcement, everything was coming up nicely and all citizens were helping, even elders and children.

 A huge amount of people arrived at the terminal in order to use the old kitchens that some rundown businesses had not used in several years. The idea was to cook a good amount of their national food for the people arriving, as well as other dishes that they might like. It wasn’t crazy to think that they would be very hungry, even at that early hour of the day. After all, this was all going on in the darkness of the night. The president was scheduled to arrive around eight o’clock in the morning, so they had to wake up or not even sleep.

 The cooking team was led by the nation president’s chef, his own wife. It wasn’t like in other countries were the president has everything and the people below him have nothing. In that nation, everyone was basically the same. People hadn’t starved in some years but they weren’t rich or even close to that. So the president’s wife decided it was best if someone close to the government like her supervised the food. It was the best way to guarantee that it would be perfect for someone with such a high profile as the ruler of the richest country in the world.

 They acknowledge that all those people in that plane, around two hundred according to the information they had shared with them, had been and eaten in places much better than their small country. That was obvious and they didn’t feel bad about it. But they wanted them to leave knowing a little bit more of their culture and about what they loved to eat and drink in those lands. The menu had been defined by the president’s wife and she was very confident that it was going to be one of the best feasts in the recorded history of their nation.

 It consisted of a special recipe for meatballs using a kind of cheese that was made from goat milk, which also happened to be used in their national beverage, which was kind of like a milkshake but less thick and richer in flavor. They also cooked the goats in various ways and were very proud about their vegetables and mushrooms, of which they had a very large variety. Various dishes were cooked with all those ingredients and some spices too.

 The small country’s president arrived in the airport only two hours before the arrival of the plane, to check everything out. The terminal had been painted in record time by volunteers and the control tower was bursting with life when, in normal days, it would only have one person and not even all day. He thanked everyone there and then went to the terminal’s commercial area where his wife and helpers were giving the final touches to the food. The smell had flooded the building and it was very delicious, so much that many stomachs growled loudly.

 Then, he went outside and did a walk around the tarmac and the runway. There wasn’t a single spec of dust anywhere, which he thought was absolutely magnificent, especially for such a windy part of the country. It seemed as if the weather was also helping them achieve their goal. The red carpet in the tarmac was the same one that the president had stepped on when he was inaugurated for his term, more than three years ago. A president’s term was five years and he couldn’t be reelected, which he personally thought was a good idea.

 He decided to check the band that had been practicing for hour in the cold and congratulated them for the amount of love they were showing the country. He stayed a bit to hear them play and, to be fair, they were not as prepared as he would have like, but there was no way of getting better musicians with only an hour to go. They would have to do. What made them special, at the end of the day, was that they played their instruments with real passion and the idea of making their country proud. And that was more than enough.

 The president decided to wait for the plane in the control tower. There, he would be able to know every detail about the upcoming visit. When he stepped in, the plane had crossed into their airspace. It would be only thirty minutes until they touched down in the runway. The atmosphere was really special. Every single person in the tower, in the terminal, in the tarmac and even in the city was ecstatic. This was, by far, the most exciting thing to ever happen in their country. And they had all worked together to make it the best day possible.


 The plane came out of the clouds and landed, in a very soft and elegant manner. Everyone applauded and greeted the people inside through the radio. The president ran outside, getting ready with all others. Many people from the city had come out of curiosity and they had been allowed to stay a bit further away. The plane parked exactly where they had determined it should go. For some minutes, nothing happened. Then, the door opened and everyone stopped breathing for a second. Their moment had come.

martes, 23 de agosto de 2016

End of a marriage

   The alarm of the oven rang right when it was expect. Linda wiped her tears out of her face and turned from the window to the oven. With her oven mints on, she took out a pretty big glass container in which a very thick lasagna was still bubbling in. The cheese had melted beautifully and the top was golden and just perfect. Through the glass, it was easy to see that the lasagna was made of several layers of vegetables and grinded beef and cheese. Linda was very proud of herself as she put the container on a wooden surface in order to let it cool down a bit while she served the rest of the dinner.

 Her husband entered the kitchen in silence. It was very obvious he didn’t know what to say. She didn’t really wanted to speak so she focused her attention on two medium sized plates, where she served a copious amount of salad made of a variety of green leaves, tomatoes, olives, cheese cubes and other small elements. She put the two plates on the table in front of the kitchen and her husband sat down immediately, without saying a word. He didn’t started eating or anything, he just waited there, turning around to see through the window every five seconds, as if he was afraid someone would appear out of nowhere to steal his food or something.

 Linda also turned around a lot while cooking, but she seemed to be better at ignoring whatever it was they were ignoring. She then started cutting the lasagna into pieces, placing two big squares on each of their plates. She put those two plates on the table too and then paused for a moment, to think what else she was supposed to do. It was her husband who stood up and ran towards a cabinet to take out a bottle of wine some friend of theirs had given them several months ago, after said person had returned from a trip to France.

 Linda remembered the bread. She took out of the cupboard, sliced some pieces and grated a lot of garlic into each piece. Then she put the bread in the microwave, as doing it in the oven would take much too long and she was seriously hungry now. Her husband Matt poured the wine into two glasses and put them on the table with the bottle, in case they wanted to have a bit more with their food.

 The sound of the microwave cooking the bread was the only thing they heard for a while. Matt sat down again, looking very tense. Linda looked at the floor as she waited for the sound. She just looked at a very small ant that was crossing the floor and she the imagined the life of that ant, all that that it had done in its short life. The microwave’s ring brought her out of her imagination. Linda put down the bread on the table, which smelled delicious, and finally sat down in front of her husband. They finally looked at each other.

 Both of their reactions were to cry. But they didn’t do it loudly or anything, they just had tears coming down their faces like a small river pouring out of their eyes. Their nose got congested and then each one of them had to stand up and run to the nearest bathroom to get some toilet paper. Once there, they just hugged. They hadn’t done that in a long time but it felt really good to finally do it, to finally feel they were together in this and that nothing could change that. They held hands and tried to tell each other how they felt but words seemed to be lacking power in those moments. Words were not important anymore.

 They went back to the table and decided to eat as if it was a normal dinner, although this one was much earlier. Outside, the sun was bright and even some birds sang. There was not a soul in sight but that was very understandable. Around there, only Linda and Matt had stayed behind in order to have one last beautiful romantic dinner and they did try to make it very nice and delicious. Actually, the first thing that Matt said when they came back from the bathroom was that it all smelled delicious and it definitely did.

 The first course was the salad. It had every single vegetable that they had left so there were pieces of onion, carrots, pepper, cucumber and several others of which there were only small pieces in the fridge. Linda had grabbed all those pieces and had cut them and put them together on a big bowl. She then had put on them some salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil to make it taste even better. Matt said it was the best salad he had ever eaten and maybe he was being honest because in all the years Linda had known him, he had never eaten a salad, not even a piece of tomato.

 As they ate, they remained in silence but it was Matt, uncomfortably clearing his voice, who asked Linda if she liked fruit in her salads. She thought it was a very strange question but the moment that they were living was much too weird and particular to ignore any questions. So she thought of her answer for a moment and then told her husband that she had eaten some salad with fruits on it and that she had liked them but that not all combinations worked. For example, she liked a Moroccan one that came with couscous and raisins, which were basically sweet as fruit, and she had loved that. But in a wedding when she was young, she was served a salad containing lettuce and other such common things on a salad but with strawberries, mango and apple. She almost vomited that salad.
 Matt laughed hard at her anecdote, as he hated salads with fruits on it too. So, while they ate their salads, they discussed how disgusting it was too find something too sweet on a plate that wasn’t supposed to be sweet. The ambiance got much more relaxed.

 Then came the lasagna and they were surprised to realize that they were very hungry. The two pieces Linda ad put on each plate were just the beginning for each one of them as they cut and served even more pieces as their conversation changed subjects once and again. They talked about Italy too and how its food was probably the best in the world. Then they chatted about spicy foods and how spicy they liked their food, if they actually like to feel that burn in their mouths.

 As they ate their pieces of lasagna, the couple became more like the people they had used to be all those years ago when they had first started dating. They were deeply in love but also very interested in each other, so much so that they had every single kind of question to make to the other person. It was so much like that that they switched their conversation from food to their teenage years. Matt wanted to know how young Linda was the first time she kissed a boy and she surprised him by saying that the first person she had kissed had actually been a girl in her class when she was around nine or ten years old. She explained that they were really good friends and that it had seemed natural at the moment. No one ever knew about it until then.

 Matt was surprised and even toasted to that anecdote as he found it very cute. He told his wife that his first kiss with a boy had happened very late in life, in college. She was amazed to know that because she had met him in college but he explained it had been in the first few years in a party. He never saw the guy again because he retired or something but he had kissed him out of a drunken stupor.

 Linda also toasted to that, happy to know more about her husband, even if at that moment that knowledge was going to be useless. They finished the lasagna and decided not to clean the dishes and, instead, they took the bottle of wine and one of champagne to the second floor of the house, where they had a nice little deck overlooking the street and the sunset. They drank the whole bottle of wine as they talked and talked and by the time they opened the champagne, they were able to hear a far away alarm.


Then, they saw it in the sky, as night had fallen. It could be seen clear and so close, much closer than they had thought it would be. They poured they champagne into their glasses and toasted to their life together and their love, just as the ball of fire passed above them making a very loud sound. They drank the whole glass and then kiss passionately for the first time in a very long while. The ball of fire touched down several kilometers to the south but the result of the impact was instantaneous: an very violent earthquake, a cloud of smoke and dirt and then, nothing.

jueves, 7 de julio de 2016

By the lake

   On his request, I sat outside the trailer, sitting on my green folding chair. I could hear his rattling inside and wondered what he was doing. Of course, I knew he was cooking because, earlier in the day, I had seen him fishing for a long time. He had woken up at the crack of dawn to do it and when I got up he was still there, very quiet and with his headphones blasting some rock music into his ears.

 I scared him a bit when I kissed him on the cheek without notice. He almost fell from the stool where he sat when he fished. But after his initial scare, he took off his headphones, kissed me back and greeted me wit a huge smile. His bucket was fool and he was very proud to announce he was going to cook lunch for the both of us. I tried to tell him I didn’t really ate fish, had never really been into it, but he didn’t let me say a word. He was too excited.

 So I stayed outside as he cooked his very special recipe. He had caught enough trout to last us for the rest of the week. The lake was filled with them or so they said. As he did his thing, I sat down outside and enjoyed the sunny day. This was after we had showered and had some breakfast, something simple not to steal the leading spot to the fish we were going to eat later in the day. He was so excited about it that I just smiled and nodded at everything he said.

 The lake was a very peaceful place, even for a spot were so many small hotels were located. There was also a very big presence of people who practiced several types of watersports. Some even brought their sailing boats in order to practice for competitions. It was kind of relaxing watching them go from one side of the lake to the other, floating over water so easily it made your soul feel at ease.

 Paul came out of the trailer for a bit, only to tell me he had already gutted the fish and it was ready to cook. But it wasn’t even midday yet so he decided to step outside and seat next to me. His folding chair was yellow and mine was green, our favorite colors. He took my hand and relaxed, watching the birds fly by and feeling the beautiful breeze that made waves on the lake.

 It was a cold wind too, as the lake was located up in the mountains. But the day was unusually sunny and people were visibly trying to enjoying at its fullest. As the day went by, I could see more boats on the lake, even those ones in the shape of ducks and other creatures. We waved at them laughing, as it was a little bit ridiculous. But it was so much fun, especially with him by my side.

 After a while, he went in again saying it was time for cooking. I almost entered the trailer behind him to go to the bathroom but he prevented me from doing so. He said he didn’t want me to see any of it so I had to remain outside. I told him I really needed to go to the bathroom, as I had drunk a very big glass of orange juice. My throat was a bit sore and I thought the juice would help in making me feel a little better.

 Paul told me to go to one of the hotel or something. At first, I thought he was joking but then I realized he wasn’t. He was very serious and the whole place smelled strongly to fish. So I decided to tell him to let everything exactly as it was before and then I stepped out. He even closed the door on me, which I thought it was unnecessary but apparently he felt he was going to do something so incredible that it was better to keep it a complete secret, even from me.

 I smiled. My heart belonged to him and I knew he had always dreamt about being a real chef. He was always buying and reading cooking books at home and he often tried to do what he had learned in our kitchen. The difference was that he couldn’t really kick me out of our own place. I think he did that by the lake because he felt the place called for it and I couldn’t agree more.

 So instead of insisting, I decided to go for a walk and explore the vicinity as Paul did what he had to do. I started walking by the edge of the lake, watching people having fun in their boats. Some were riding one of those floating things that you ride and when it too bouncy you fall into the water. I really wanted to try that but then I realized it wouldn’t be too nice if I showed up wet to lunch.

 I kept on walking and remembered I needed to go to the bathroom. So I woke up a small hill and arrived to a small hotel that handled some cottages overlooking the lake. It was also the hotel that managed the area we had parked our trailer, so it made sense to ask for the bathroom there. The owner was a very nice lady who seemed to be as old as time. However, she moved very fast and seemed to have her senses in much better shape that most people.

 She gave me the keys to her private bathroom and it took my only a couple of minutes to be done. I cleaned my face watching myself on her mirror and realized I looked rather good. We all have those days when we think we look particularly great. We also have those other days when we think we look awful but, thank God, I hadn’t had one of those in a long time. In my day to day, I rarely used the mirror but the bathroom was so small it was not really easy to avoid looking yourself in it.

 When I was done, I thank the owner and decided to keep walking around the lake. I decided to make a full circle around it, as it wasn’t that big and I knew Paul needed time to cook. So I started walking, by another hotel and then a patch of tall grass filled with mosquitoes. I almost had to go into the water to avoid it. After that, there was a small forest of eucalyptus trees. It was nice to see the brown leaves on the ground and the sound they made as I walked on them. There were birds chirping and I could even feel there were squirrels somewhere above me.

 As I came out of the forest, I noticed someone had a problem in the lake. A lady in of those rowing boats was calling for help. Apparently her husband wasn’t feeling very well. She was yelling towards a place located further ahead on my path. It was the rental area where people that weren’t staying in any of the hotels could just grab a boat and have some fun for a couple of hours.

 I glanced at the woman and then at the rental area and noticed two men getting into a motorboat, going to the rescue of the poor woman. I kept on walking as they arrived by her and grabbed her husband who couldn’t apparently move. Probably a heart attack or something of the sort. She jumped from their boat to the other and then one of the guys that had come for them tied the rowboat to theirs with a rope. It looked nice how one little boat tagged along with the other. The journey to the shore was rather short.

 By then I realized I was halfway from my trailer. I tried to see if Paul was looking for me yet but I couldn’t see anyone waving or anything like that. Even if he had been outside, I doubt he would have seen me, as we were but very shortsighted. One of the many things in common we had. So I kept on walking through a very large area with only grass and some floors growing in peace, with no one grabbing them or taking them home.

 I sat down there for a while and breathed in a lot of that fresh mountain air. Then, I lay on the grass, enjoying how it felt, closing my eyes to try and seal that memory into my mind forever. It was very nice to be there, after so many things had happened to us in the last year. It hadn’t been easy at all but this small trip was kind of a prize for the both of us. I stood up and kept on walking, thinking we were much stronger than we thought.

 My last stop was close to our trailer, were lots of people were raising kites into the sky. There were lots of children but also adults that tried to teach them the proper technique to make everything perfect. I looked at their kites for several minutes, floating high in the air, doing the most peaceful think I could ever imagine. It was so nice to be there and not thinking about anything else.


 When I neared the trailer, I felt the smell of food. As I sat on my chair, he came out with a white wine bottle, which he poured into two glasses. We made a toast for ourselves and for that beautiful place and then we ate, talking about everything. It was delicious, every single part of lunch. But what was much better was to have gotten there with him. That’s why my hug after finishing eating was unusually stronger.

jueves, 11 de febrero de 2016

Not there

   A small crab ran across the beach, fighting the powerful gust of wind that was sweeping the area. It moved fast and then burrowed himself into the sand, disappearing in a matter of seconds. There was another creature in the beach. A young woman, dressed in plastic boots and a coat that resembled the capes that superheroes used in comic books and movies. It was red and the boots two. Not like the crab, she just stood in one place and looked at the ocean and how the waves were becoming bigger and bigger, how they appeared to be alive. The water and foam came closer and closer to her feet but she did not move. She seemed out of herself, in a way.

 Finally a wave crashed violently against the beach and reached her knees. She seemed to have woken up from a dream, only cleaning her legs with her hands and turning around, walking up the natural hill that had formed because of erosion and went back home, not far from the sound of the ocean. The sky was becoming darker, both because of the time of day but also because of the storm that was brewing in the ocean. The woman walked slowly towards her house, soon joined by a beautiful Labrador dog that was of her property. The dog’s name was Chance. Hers was Amelia.

 She entered the house through the back door that led to the kitchen. She took off her coat and boots and left them in a small cabinet she used for such purposes. Walking in socks, she grabbed a beer from the fridge and petted Chance who followed her everywhere. She crossed the house towards the living room, where she lay down in a sofa, drinking her beer and letting the dog sleep by her feet. But the women wasn’t calm, she was apparently trying the drink the content of the bottle in one gulp and even some of the beer slid down her chin and neck. She cleaned it with her sleeve.

 The main door, a room away, opened to reveal her husband coming in. They had been married for about a year and had come to this house, owned by Amelia’s father, to get away from everyone else. Their anniversary was the next day and they didn’t want to have to share that day with anyone else. Or at least that was the original reason they had for coming to that windy beach. He went straight to the kitchen, left some bags there and organized its contents, and only after finishing he sat down on an armchair across Amelia.

- Isn’t it a bit early?

  Her only answer was to burp with no shame or limit. She had finished her beer so she left the bottle by the sofa and looked at her husband, her eyes sad as they could be. He looked at her too and they wrestled with their eyesight for almost a whole minute, until Amelia asked her husband Matt to come to her in the sofa and he refused. She heard her footsteps going up, to the bedroom. She decided to follow, seeing night had already fallen.

 When she entered the room, he was taking off his shoes and putting some slippers. He always complained about some of the shoes he had brought recently, because they all made his feet hurt a lot. He had just being out in the supermarket for a couple of hours and he felt blood pumping through his feet. Amelia sat down by him on the bed and took his hand. She squeezed and he squeezed back but they didn’t look at each other. They just sat there in silence, only illuminated by the very week light of a nightstand lamp.

 The moment was broken by a thunder in the distance. They had not seen the lighting so maybe the storm was out in the ocean but they knew the night was going to be long. Matt looked at Amelia and proposed to her to go down to the kitchen and make some dinner. She tried to smiled but couldn’t; only nodding and releasing his hand from her grip. She walked down first, arriving at the kitchen where Chance was smelling his plate. She had forgotten to feed him and proceed to pour some of his food into it before Matt saw her. But Chance had to eat earlier.

- You always forget. Is like you don’t care about him
- I do.
- Really?

 Matt had that quality that some people have to make you feel, with simple words, like a bug squashed against a wall. Of course she loved the dog but she had been thinking all the day long, going away to the beach   and the dog didn’t like the beach, possibly because it was very humid or because of the crabs. Maybe if the dog had come with her to the beach, she wouldn’t have forgotten to feed him. But it was too late for that now and the dog was eating already.

 Her husband gave her some vegetables to cut into dices as he marinated some shrimps and cut some slices of eggplant. He had always loved to cook and invent new recipes. It drove him away from everything in the world; he became the only person alive with all the ingredients, focusing only on how good it had to look and how nice it had to taste to any palate. The recipe they were doing had been created by him, several years ago.

 Amelia cooked the vegetables with a bit of oil and butter. They had to be nice and crunchy. The shrimps were cooked in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and also some paprika. Amelia looked at him, almost smiling to the prawns, so much happier than ever before. She loves to see him smile but it wasn’t often that she saw that these days. Then again, she didn’t smile herself too often either. He proceeded to fry the eggplants after submerging them in water. The smell was all around the house.

 In each plate, Matt served two big slices of eggplant topped with shrimp and vegetables. He poured some olive oil to give it a nice look and asked Amelia to take it to the table. He took out a bottle of wine from a special fridge he had bought and joined his wife at the dining table. It was a small space, the table only for four. They sat one across he other and sat in silence. Matt poured wine into two cups that had been set up by her and they just started eating in silence. It was really good and Chance had followed them to see if they would give him at least a bite of what they had cooked.

 But each one of them was too distracted to notice him, panting included. Amelia wanted to tell her husband how nice it all was but something in her throat didn’t let her. It was as if she had a knot there that wouldn’t let her talk her mind. It wasn’t that she feared her husband or anything like that. She loved him deeply but she knew she was know miles away from him and had been like that since her mother had advised them to come out here and get away from all the eyes and the ears.

 He was distracted too, cutting his eggplant and then sipping some wine and then looking out the window to the storm. From that room, during the day, you could see the horizon and part of the ocean. If there had been light, he would have seen the darkness of the tempest and the violence of the waves in the sea. But now he could only guess all of that by the lights of the thunder and the resounding sound of storm, that seemed like a monster rising from the water and howling, trying to caution every other living creature from getting near him.

- It’s good.

 Amelia had finally said it and as she did, she knew she had committed a mistake. Her voice broke off and couldn’t speak anymore and he looked at her for a moment and just stood up, walking towards the living room. She followed him, thinking for a second he was leaving. She grabbed him by the arm and he pulled her apart, almost in disgust. Her eyes were filled with tears. It was then he said, he finally said what she had dreaded for some time: “You killed her”.


 The only thing Amelia could do, out of rage and despair, was to grab the bottle of beer she had left there earlier and throw it towards him. He dodged it just in time so the bottle crossed the room and smashed against the window, which broke into thousands of big and small pieces. She was breathing heavily and he seemed scared. She finally shed a single tear and said: “Never. I could have never”. The wind entering from outside froze them, leaving them like statues in the middle of the house, thinking of the unborn.