*this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but Erik bogarted the interwebs.
Many of the readings I’ve immersed myself in throughout my entire grad school experience focused on borders, literal and figurative ones. I chose Mexican and Mexican American writers to study (namely female writers) and they all said everything I ever wanted to say about straddling my own borders (both the Anglo side of me and the Mexican side). I think when you clearly identify with being other, it becomes easier and easier to be comfortable with all sides of yourself. I’ve slowly but surely become comfortable with my place between those borders. But it took awhile to get to that place. For example, when I was around kindergarten age, and why I remember this so clearly I’ll never know, our teachers had this activity they did to make the kids feel special. They spotlighted one kid per week via a large sheet of paper hung on the wall that listed the student’s name, birthday, their favorite hobbies, television shows, toys, and favorite food. When it came time for my week, I took the survey home for my mom to help me fill out and under favorite food, she wrote “fajitas.” My 5 year old self about died because up to that point, everyone else had pizza and burgers and PB&J for their favorite foods. Fajitas most definitely did not fit into that status quo. I agonized about it because the white kids would not know what my favorite food was and I would be irreparably cast into the realm of “other.” I think all kids are, at some point, anxious about that label. I recall that it was a pretty serious time for me, fraught with drama and terror. When the time came to post my paper, nobody gave a crap about what I listed for my favorite food. Which goes to show you that nobody else thinks I’m as worth worrying about as I do. But as I got to know my own culture more and more, it became easier to just live within it and not worry about being different from everyone else. Give me a tortilla over white bread any day, man. Basically I should have listened to my mom who always knew being different from everyone else is one of the greatest things a person can be. Once though, she suggested that for a school musical performance, that I dress up like an Indian and sing Cher’s “Half Breed.” She was pretty proud of this idea, despite my giving her a huge dose of my famous “…the hell are you smoking?” side eye. I did not take her up on this suggestion, in case you are wondering. I like being different but uh, that’s a little too different, even for me.
So (yesterday) was about Mexican pride for me. and FOOD. So let’s talk about flautas, kids. I love ’em. They’re easy. They’re crispy. They’re like a party in your mouth. I originally planned to make a big batch of fajitas, rice, and tortillas, but the grill ran out of propane. Deep sigh. Quick improvisation with some pork, cumin, corn tortillas, and pineapple, led to a crock pot meal that served as a nice celebration meal for us.
Pork Carnitas Flautas with Pico de Pina
a batch of carnitas (use your favorite recipe – I used Bon Appetit’s crock pot carnitas except I rubbed my pork with cumin, salt, pepper, and the dried oregano before I tossed everything in the crock pot)
corn tortillas – I got about a dozen flautas out of this one pot of carnitas
oil, for frying
pineapple rings (it’s best if you use a fresh on you’ve cut up yourself, but if you can’t, I guess no one will complain much if you use canned)
two serrano peppers, deseeded, deveined, diced up
onion, diced (I used a small one from the garden)
a handful of cilantro, chopped
Warm several corn tortillas on your griddle, a cast iron pan, your comal, or even in the microwave, if you have none of the above mentioned pans. To assemble the flautas, spoon some of the shredded pork onto one softened tortilla at a time. Roll up tightly and use a toothpick to hold it all together. Heat an inch or so of oil in a large pot to about 350 degrees. Fry these until golden brown all over. Set on a paper towel lined plate to drain. Give ’em a small sprinkle of salt. To make the pico, grill those pineapple rings, then diced them up. Put the diced pineapple in a bowl along with the serranos, onions, and cilantro. Squeeze some lime juice all over the salsa. Mix it together and add some salt and pepper to taste. Serve the flautas with refried beans if you want, with more lime wedges or some avocado slices or diced tomatoes. Oh and take those toothpicks out of the flautas before you eat them. And make sure you tell a certain husband who shall remain nameless that you didn’t remove his toothpicks because he’s perfectly capable of doing it himself. Because if you don’t tell him this he will assume you did it for him and bite into a flauta and a toothpick and then spend the rest of your lives together saying things like “hey remember the time you tried to kill me by leaving the toothpick in my flauta and I almost ate it?” Yeah. Try to avoid that kind of situation if you can.