Sunday, October 16, 2016

the green fountain pen is stuck in the roasted chicken

The chicken marinated all night in the kumquat mixture.

It sounds like the password from a very bad movie script. But it is actually the fixings for a potluck I attended this afternoon.

For a year or so, I have received invitations to join a group of expatriates for a Sunday afternoon potluck. The group picks a theme, and everyone builds dinner around it. I have never attended, but the photographs of the food certainly tempted me.

With Barco's death, I have decided to honor the freedom he has given me by getting out and socializing a bit more. I have mentioned it before: I am not social, but I am passably sociable.

So, I decided this would be my potluck debut in Barra de Navidad. The theme was foods including fruit. And I knew exactly what I wanted to make. A stir fry with kumquats.

My friend Gary, the owner of Rooster's and Papa Gallo's, grows kumquats in his garden. The only place in Mexico I have ever seen kumquats is in his hand. And I have missed them. The kumquats, that is. Up north, they were a staple in my kitchen.

Gary and I have swapped kumquat stories over the years. He says the first time he ever heard the word was when Pat Buttram told Jack Paar he was settling down on a kumquat orchard. The first time I heard it was in a song from The Fantasticks -- "This Plum is Too Ripe." But I was not to taste my first kumquat until decades later.

The harvest from Gary's trees is rather limited. He had brought a handful into the restaurants to make a kumquat chutney. But he gladly donated them to the potluck cause.

For the past two weeks, I have been trying to lose weight -- through exercise and cutting back severely on my food portions. So, a potluck was not a bad choice. I could simply monitor what I ate.

My contribution was a kumquat ginger chicken stir fry -- with lots of habanero and jalapeño peppers. I marinated the cubed chicken and quartered kumquats in a soy-hoison sauce marinade overnight. Just before I left for the potluck, I stir fried the chili peppers in sesame seed oil along with ginger, garlic, onion, and red bell along with the chicken-kumquat mixture.

It was fantastic. If I do say so myself, it is one of the best meals I have cooked in a month or two. The flavors were properly layered and the dish was spicy enough to remove the skin in my mouth. Fortunately, I had enough left for a couple of controlled-size meals.

The potluck itself was a great success. I had not met about half of the people at the table, but we knew of each other through Facebook. Barco was an appropriately brief topic, but most of the conversation was the type of banter and trivia you would hear in any group of people who were comfortable with one another.

And I was comfortable enough to think about attending at least one more -- next week.

No comments: