Saturday, October 18, 2008

Humitas with Pepita

Today’s entry requires a bit of backstory, so bare with me, I promise it’s worth it. And if not, I invite you to come on over to Ecuador and demand your 10 minutes back. We’re all dying for visitors down here :)

So the backstory: at the Minga we participated in a couple of weekends ago, we worked side by side with a woman named Pepita. While she didn’t get down and dirty (aka wet) with us in the river, she was with our group the whole time both weekends, stomping bottles and sorting plastic and glass. Pepita lives close to the river with her husband and 2 kids, on the same property as her husbands brother and his family, and we walk past their houses every day on our way to Apoyo. The families invited us over for lunch after our last exhaustive Minga, and at this lunch it came out that Pepita knows how to make humitas.

For those of you who have never eaten a humita, let me just extend my sincerest sympathies to you. Humitas are, um, AMAZING. I don’t even have the right words to describe them; cornmeal-pancake batter-tamale-pieces of warmed heaven-cake wrapped up in a corn shuck...They’re really great. There’s a little place in Sangolqui that sells them right on the street, steaming over a huge pot of water and jumping out at us every time we head to MegaMaxi (yes, that is the unfortunate name of the ‘buy-everything-here’ super store) for more spicy mustard. When Jocelyn and I asked the woman selling said humitas how she makes them, we were royally snubbed when she responded, “Oh, usteades no pueden” (Oh, you girls wouldn’t be able to do it). Great, thanks for nothing humita lady. If we weren’t so addicted to your delicious treats we would totally stop talking to you. Now, would you please bag up 10 humitas, we’re going to be hungry later.

ANYWAY, the second Pepita told us she knew how to make humitas, we (Jocelyn, Serena and I) begged her to teach us. And so today, armed with two huge wheels of Queso Fresco (Fresh Cheese...don’t ask), we arrived at Pepitas house ready to learn. And oh let me tell you, did we learn. From 3 to 7 we shucked choclo (Ecuador’s version of corn on the cob), ground kernels, mixed batter, spooned meal into shucks, added cheese, and steamed the flavor into 120 humitas. It was awesome.

(Jocelyn takes a turn at the choclo grinding)

Also awesome was getting to talk to Pepita all afternoon, giving us a chance to practice our Spanish and try out different verb tenses (she’s very understanding). We’ve been invited back any time we’d like, and as we left, our arms filled with bags of humitas for the lucky boys, and Pepita waved us off with “Ciao, mi hijitas” (Bye, my dear little ones) it really felt like we were a part of the community. Just goes to show that true relationships take time, but those that come do are undoubtedly sweet.

Have a good weekend!

(batter and eggs, getting ready to be slurped together by Serena's stirring skills)

(Rolling out each Humita by hand)


Craig Smith said...

humitas are salty

Anonymous said...

Ok, this does it. I am coming to visit. I want to learn how to make these.