"How did you celebrate your birthday?"
I had several telephone calls and email in that vein yesterday. Some from people who have known me for a long time. They thought I would be celebrating with friends all day.
With the exception of Thanksgiving, I am not very traditional on these events.
So non-traditional that I spent most of the day on my own. Well, almost alone. With one nice exception.
It was a day of food and relaxation.
I was up early to watch the sun rise over the laguna. It was pleasant merely to listen to the early birds singing -- rather than getting their worms.
I do not use the hammock very much in the morning. There is no reason why I don't. So, I remedied that little omission.
I prepared a bowl of corn flakes and poured a glass of water -- and took them to the hammock. Where I read the newspaper on my Kindle and picked out various bird songs from the early morning chorus.
This past week, Felipe and I had a discussion about meals and meal times in Mexico. I think I have acclimated to the Mexican meal schedule quite easily.
My usual breakfast is a bowl of dry cereal with milk and a banana. Plus a glass or two of water. In Spanish, the meal is desayuno -- or almuerzo for a heavier breakfast later in the day. What people north of the border call brunch.
We do not use the term almuerzo in these parts. It sounds a bit too Mexico City for most of my neighbors. They are working class people. No hoity-toity late breakfasts for them.
The big meal of the day (comida -- also the word for "food") is eaten between 2 and 4 in the afternoon. It is the equivalent of rural dinner time. It is definitely not what Americans call "lunch" with their pitiful sack lunches and yogurt cups.
Yesterday, I went out for comida at La Rana -- the restaurant just around the corner from my house. Rather than cook something at home, I decided to have huevos rancheros -- and that is about the usual size of my mid-day meal.
But I also had a special treat. My former next door neighbor when I lived in the beach house was there. We will call him The Professor -- Professor of Rhetoric to be more exact.
He was about to leave. But, in the course of a half hour, we managed to discuss Plutarch's Lives, Ludwig Wittgenstein, concert music for one-handed pianists, Franz Liszt, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Carlos Santana, George Santayana, music theory, sound engineering, Elizabeth Taylor, Doris Day, and Claudette Colbert.
If they had all shown up in person, we would have had a crowded table.
After a lengthy siesta (a true indulgence for my birthday), I decided to prepare something a bit different for cena -- the light meal eaten between 7 and 9 around here. It is simply something to tide the diner over until breakfast.
Usually, I will eat a small portion of leftovers. Or do what I did tonight.
I have some roasted chicken (pollo asado) left over from comida several days ago. I could have eaten it along with a couple of tortillas. Instead, I decided to make soup.
Chicken and beans always go well together. I have a bean and chicken soup recipe I picked up somewhere on the internet. It calls for a chili-mix to be added to a pot of freshly-cooked beans.
And let me put this plug in right now. Nothing makes a house smell homier than a pot of fresh-cooked beans. In this case, the little white beans -- alubia chica -- cooked in chicken broth.
The recipe called for one chile poblano. One chili never did anyone any good. So, I chopped up two -- along with three jalapeños. Sautéed with onion and garlic, they were a great addition to the soup. Along with cumin and oregano.
One bowl of that was quite enough to put me in a mind for bed.
I can always count on losing weight in Mexico. Partly because I do a lot of walking. But the food makes a big difference. I consume fewer calories -- and what I consume is better for me.
All in all, it was just the way I like to celebrate.