Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Ketcha's tamales

In many ways the Gonzales family is rich. Rich in having experience how to live here. Rich in the social quality of their lives. Rich in their believes, their morality and in their hearts. They are also rich in a material way, although it is a virtual wealth.
Gumaro and his 6 brothers and sisters still own 40 hectares (98 acres) of land. It is the land in the dry river bed where are the small ranchos of Gumaro and Alfredo. What makes this property so valuable is that on it are three water wells with limitless potable water. There are no such wells for many kilometres (miles) around and already all the Americans, who have build holiday houses in the area, depend for water of the wells of the Gonzales. Gumaro’s son Ismaël delivers with his large water truck to about 5 American owned houses a day . These 40 hectares the family still owns are worth therefore millions of Euros (Dollars) but the family has no intention to sell. This makes that Gumaro, virtually a millionaire, constantly has cash problems. As a ranchero, he depends for income of his cows and goats. He has no fixed monthly income. His cattle multiplies and the bulls, when 2 or 3 years old, are sold to the slaughterhouse. The milk of the cows is used for Ketcha to make cheese that they sell. She also sells cigarettes, meals and soft drinks to Mexicans working in the construction of the holiday houses in the area. All in all they make a living, but it has a very limited budget.

Today, Ketcha Gonzales of Rancho Punta Boca del Salado made tamales. To offer to her family and to sell. One tamales costs 10 Mexican Pesos (70 Eurocent, 92 Dollarcent).
What exactly are tamales?
Mexican tamales are packets of corn dough with a savoury filling, including cow meat, wrapped up in cornhusks.
These packets are steamed and eaten by opening it and consuming the contents.
These tamales date back to the time before Columbus set foot on land in Central America. We know this because of documents provided by Father Bernardino de Shaagun who reported in 1550 that the Aztecs served the Spanish conquistadores tamales.

On a table placed behind her house, Ketcha, whose official name is Lucretia, helped by her daughter in law Mabelle, the wife of her oldest son José-Manuel, makes the tamales in preparation for them to be steamed.
And to make some money.

No tamales though for the one who writes these words. He doesn’t eat meat.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For a short time in my life, as a child, I had no understanding of the limited cash income in my family. We always had food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our heads and love in excess. The food was simple and filling, the clothes were usually handed down or bought at thrift stores (which were excitng to browse as there was such a variety of items to peruse!) the homes were simple (children doubled and tripled up in beds for warmth or comfort from bad dreams) and the love came from a large family with no less than 4 sets of grandparents to run to for hugs and support. We went to a very small faith based school where petty arguments between students were nipped in the bud by a stern but caring staff. We were taught pride in our family heritage and that there was honor in hard work. As a large family getting together to work on a particular project no matter how long or difficult, was filled with laughter and sweat and big meals and comraderie. It made us enjoy our jobs no matter how unglamorous they were. Reading this blog made me so nostalgic for that life. The older I became and the farther away from home I traveled and was disillusioned of the small and carefully kept a world I lived in, I always go back to that place in my self and appreciate a kind of life that most children never see nor feel. It makes my heart happy and I face the discontented, cynical world around me with cheerful strength to continue.