Food is romance.
We fall in and out of love with its various forms over time.
My youthful infatuation with Twinkies and Hostess fruit pies led to irreconcilable differences, divorce, and a very bad taste in my mouth.
I had a brief fling with Brussels sprouts -- those odd little cabbages -- in England. Just a year. There is no need to speak of it again.
And then there was hominy.
My family is as Yankee as they come. Mayflower. Massachusetts. Funny hats and even stranger shoes with buckles in all the wrong places. We learned to eat our corn fresh. Not after it had been lye-drated.
I had never even seen hominy until a visit to my cousins. There it was in a bowl on the supper table. White. Fat. Canned. It looked like mushy corn nuts. But tasted like aged library paste -- to my elementary school palate.
And that was that. One date. The relationship was over.
Those relativists who insist on telling us we cannot say we don't like something until we have tried it -- I tried it. Didn't like it.
I have been offered hominy only twice since then. Both times I demurred.
Mexico is the land of corn. You can (and do) find it in almost every type of food -- including soup.
And prominent in the soup category is pozole. A soup made primarily of hominy and some form of meat.
Pozole is as Mexican as a food can be. Before the conquest, the Aztecs created pozole as a sacred dish. For them, the connection was obvious. The gods created humans out of corn dough.
But here is the twist. During their ceremonies to appease the gods, the Aztecs would sacrifice their victims and add the human meat to their ritual corn stew. The community would then consume the bodies of the victims offered to their gods. A rather primitive form of communion.
When the Spanish arrived, they frowned on cannibalism. After all, they had better work for captives than to sacrifice them to Aztec gods. There were mines to dig and fields to plant. With slave labor.
Instead of human flesh, pork became the usual meat in pozole. Another example of the term "long pork" having creepy historical echoes.
I have been tempted to try pozole -- despite the hominy -- for two years. This week, I finally gave in to curiosity. After all, I enjoy culinary adventures. I am always willing to put treats in my mouth -- and it is even better when things are as good or better than I expected.*
Melaque is fortunate to have one of the best pozole restaurants on the west coast. At least, it once was. All I know is that it was very good.
I ordered mine with chicken. But, who knows? I hear that is exactly how tourist tastes.
* -- The reference to culinary adventures reminded me that I have not told you my eating tales in Mexico City. I will do that. Soon.