Saturday, August 09, 2014

popping into the future

I love popcorn.  It is the one snack I have allowed myself, now that I have given into the nagging of the food fascists.

Popcorn requires two major components.  Good popping corn.  And an even-better popping kettle.

Over five years ago, I told you how disappointed I was with the quality of the popping corn in Melaque (popping memories).  Once popped, it looked and smelled like popcorn, but tasted like packing material.

Several of you told me I must have bought an old bag of corn.  The defenders of the local product claimed Mexican popping corn was usually of the highest quality.  After all, it all started here.  Corn, that is.

It turns out the commenters were correct.  My subsequent forays into the world of Juan Redenbacher have resulted in popcorn that is as good as any I have eaten -- even at my grandmother's house.

And that brings me to my popping kettle -- the subject of this little essay.  When I moved south, I brought along a set of high quality pots and pans that my employer purchased as a retirement gift.  After all, what use would I have with a watch in Mexico?  And I knew that the odds of finding quality cookware in Melaque was about as good as finding temperate weather at the beach.

The pots are great.  The one I selected to pop up my corn is the perfect size to produce a one-person bowl of snacking pleasure.

Of course, no story is told unless the writer is willing to add a bit of tension.  It came in the form of the glass lid having a hard date with the kitchen tiled floor.  The floor was unscathed.  The lid shattered into a myriad of shards that I still find from time to time.

I thought that was the end of my popping kettle.  But, as luck would have it, I had noticed a glass lid to a long-ago deceased round Corning Ware bowl.  It was the perfect size for the kettle.

Better yet, its transparency reminded me of the electric popper at my grandmother's house.  It is not often that utility and nostalgia vacation together.

That union lasted about two years.  Until early Thursday last week -- while I was rushing in the early morning to get on the road to Guadalajara.  Dishes needed to be put away.  As I moved the popcorn kettle to the lower shelf, the glass lid slid off and had the same date with the same kitchen tiled floor.  With the same result.  There were not as many shards, but the lid has now served up its last snack.

Mexicans are well-known for improvising -- just as I did with the replacement glass lid.  So, off I went through the shops in my little fishing village seeking a reasonable replacement for either lid.  Nada.  And then to the tianguis -- a weekly market that can best be described as a garage sale on steroids.  Nada.

Somewhere there is a single lid in Mexico looking to hook up with a kettle that enjoys walks on the beach in the rain and listening to Kenny G albums. 

Until I act as the perfect matchmaker, I will truly improvise.  And that is why you are looking at a photograph of a plate atop my pot.  Dora, the woman who cleans my house, offered the perfect Mexican solution.

I suspect the popcorn will taste good despite the kettle's Rube Goldberg heritage.


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