Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Menudo, the real Culinary Cucuy

Umm...Look at that warm comforting bowl of steaming hot menudo. All around are the traditional accompaniments. Hot corn tortillas fresh off the comal. Freshly diced onions, cilantro, lemon wedges, dried oregano, even a couple of drops of Tapatio to kick it up heatwise. Nothing to fear, que no? Wrong-o, amigos. Let's look carefully at the menudo bowl.

There within lies the real Cucuy, not the hideous beasts terrorizing the citizens of a major metropolis, like "Godzilla" or "Cloverfield" on film and DVD. Not the guy on the Mexican FM radio. No, my friends, be afraid, very afraid---it is menudo bowl. Way down deep, beneath the depths of gallons of cooked hominy and chile colorado the nasty Cucuy bits are lurking: honeycomb tripe, a cloven hoof or two, and other assorted organ meats, depending on what's around. Nothing goes to waste, it's all in there. Some folks swear by this soup as a cure for the dreaded hang-over. Menudo for the crudo, as it is known in these parts.

But waiting for you inside that bowl sits a tasty treat. Surely not meant for sissies, but for fearless women and men, it is delicious beyond belief. It must get its flavor from the slow cooking of all those nasty bits. Good to eat morning, noon or night...if you are brave enough, or suffering from the bacchanalia of the night before! For those less inclined to tackle the Cucuy beast within the menudo bowl, may we suggest pozole, menudo's domesticated cousin. If you haven't tried it yet, add a bowl of menudo to your own Culinary Bucket List.

Here at La Vida Dulce we enjoy a can of Juanita's Menudito now and then. Cooking a pot of homemade menudo is EXTREMELY time consuming, due to the slow cooking required for the pata (hoof) and the tripe to become tender. Another alternative is the time-honored tradition of taking your own soup pot to the local panaderia or tortilleria early on Saturday or Sunday morning. Any way you serve it, menudo is the real cucuy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Cloverfield vs. Cucuy

Back in the old days, we had black & white monster movies that in comparison to movies today look pretty lame. We grew up with the Channel 9 Million Dollar Movie running "Godzilla" every night for a week and twice on the weekends. Corny as it seems when I watch it now, that post-atomic era reptilian creature stomping through the streets of Tokyo still gives me the creeps!

Here's why: In the summer we slept with the windows wide open and from somewhere far away outside you could hear a scary noise late at night. If you got to bed early enough, you didn't hear it. We couldn't figure out where it came from, that loud, slow "WHOOSH-WHOOSH" seemed to be off in the distance, like big heavy footsteps. I swear, it sounded like Godzilla was marching up Brooklyn Avenue. Add to this, the family tradition of discipline by instilling fear. "That's the Cucuy coming to get you if you don't go to sleep." Any menacing creature is given the name of the Cucuy, regardless of country of origin. When the nearby brickyard finally closed, I learned the truth about the sound, coming from the bellows that stoked the fire for the bricks. So much for trying to scare us anymore!

A 21st century version of the Cucuy appeared in movie theaters this past weekend, and from the trailers, it has that same creepy Godzilla thing going on, stomping around the streets of New York, upsetting everyone and everything. This movie has the silly name of "Cloverfield" but don't be mistaken. This has the makings of a truly scary movie. Not the crap where blood is gushing everywhere, saws, machetes, guns, torn limbs, with flying mummies and psychopaths running amok. Yawn. Nah, I like the slow Mummy, the dusty scraggly one nobody can out-run, even though he's slower than your Granny. I appreciate a good "things-that-go-bump-in-the-night" movie. In a claw-to-claw smackdown, the Cloverfield monster would defeat any Cucuy from the 'hood.

Well, you can imagine my surprise the other day when on my way to work, I got stuck behind the radio DJ Cucuy and his tour bus. That was really scary, I was almost late!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Candidates' Cookie Platform

The cousins were over here the other night, for dinner and to watch the debates on TV. We pretty much came up with our slate, plus a new set of cabinet officers, all of them winners and bipartisan, too. Go figure. So I came up with my own platform, or rather, a cookie platter of candidates. All of them must be pretty tough cookies, going after a job that one commentator mentioned will literally take years off your life. YIKES! Some of these candidates already look rode hard and put away wet. Here's to 'em all and may the best cookie win! Names were randomly drawn, not in any order of personal preference:

McCain - vanilla iced shortbread

Richardson - drop cookies (UPDATE: he quit the race)

Kucinich - cookies from the Keebler elves

Clinton - ginger snaps

Romney - snickerdoodles

Obama - macadamia nut chocolate chip

Huckabee - moon pies

That's all we have so far, but the only thing that really matters is that we get out and vote.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Emeril and the Dodgers 50th Anniversary Float

Happy New Year! Hope you all have a wonderful year full of love and all the good things. Well, I almost broke with tradition to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade in person this year. Came pretty close, but no cigar. Two reasons. The Los Angeles Dodgers are celebrating the 50th anniversary this year, and a float was entered. Can you believe it, I actually attended two games that first season in 1958. Gramps worked for a company that printed the programs, and he was given the tickets. I will always cherish the memory of watching Major League Baseball at the Coliseum. Next reason, Emeril was the Grand Marshall of the parade this year. Gotta love the guy, he put Food TV on the map, bamming his way to a well-deserved success. His "Essence of Emeril" show is the best, and he is a great teacher and an inspiration to all of us foodies. I thought about it for a while, but neither event was enough for me to go out into the cold morning. Better to watch on TV curled up with a warm cup of coffee, some Cranberry Bliss clone and a blanket, "Northern Exposure" and "Twilight Zone" marathons, and endless football. Ahh, what a country!