Q: How can you tell it’s fall in Tropica?
A: The beaches are empty.
Fall in Tropica. The tourists are gone. Kids are in school. The hotels on the Riviera Maya are empty and prices are the lowest they’ll be all year. The snowbirds haven’t arrived yet. The air has finally cooled down to 80F/26C. The Tropicans are in bliss.
I’m filled with nostalgia for crisp air, sweaters, and the flaming colors of leaves. How I miss the autumn of my childhood in the U.S. Palm trees are always green. Halloween, which isn’t a Mexican custom, has drifted in nonetheless and is fighting with Christmas for floor space in Costco. Not a pretty sight.
The Tropicans are looking forward to Day of the Dead, a four day holiday beginning Nov. 1, that is much like American Thanksgiving in that families gather and eat mucbipollo. They dream about this dish all year long. It is essentially a lasagna sized tamale, wrapped in banana leaves and cooked underground, clambake style, with coals, wood and dirt piled on top.
I don’t make my own mucbipollo. Even though I’m a great cook, it’s simply: too much work. I order one from wonderful Tropican women who bake in batches.
It’s Sunday as I write this, and here’s my fall Tropican day. Yesterday I completed my annual October two-day garage sale, so I’m a bit spent today. This morning, I cleaned the pool, then did my annual pumpkin project. Because I can’t buy canned pumpkin here, I cut up a Mexican calabaza — it’s a beige colored pumpkin– and steamed it in batches. Then I scooped it out and pureed it. I measured two cup servings into baggies and arranged them in the freezer. I’m set for what I need for my fall: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin gnocchi.
I gave myself a pedicure — I have one of those professional, bubbling, water tubs with the blue light. As we wear sandals here year round, I’m dedicated to beautiful toes. I wrote blog posts. I watched “Love and Friendship” on Apple TV whilst sipping a cup of milky tea. I practiced yoga and then settled down with a book and a glass of wine. I’m presently reading “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard.
My big project that I’m planning for next year, and that I’ll tell you more about in the near future, is that I’m going to assemble a cookbook of family favorites. My life in food. The recipes — mine, from friends, and from the cookbooks of famous chefs — have brought my family pleasure over the years. It’s time to have it all in a collection instead of on splattered, hand written cards slipped here and there. It’s a gift for my children, my nephews and nieces, and friends who have sat at my table.
So, as ever, trying to live in the present and not let the encroaching holidays, encroach. You know what I mean.
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