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Word Footage of a World Wanderer

Passport & Plate - Acuyo snook chops.

Mexico | Friday, 28 February 2014 | 21 photos

Acuyo snook chops.

4 snook chops
1 clove of garlic (a big one)
2 thin slices of a medium onion (for the salsa)
Sliced onion at your preference
2 big jalapeños without the seeds
10-15 acuyo weed leaves, rinsed and de-infected
16 Cambray potatoes
Vegetable oil and/or pork fat
Salt at your preference


How to prepare this recipe
The first and most important step is to play on some yummy salsa music to get in the mood. Don’t be shy, dance along.
Heat some vegetable oil on a pan and add the clove of garlic, the onion slices and the jalapeños. While you enjoy the aroma of the ingredients, let them fry at medium heat until they are half cooked.
Blend them along with the acuyo leaves and some salt. Take deep breaths: the acuyo begins to deploy its amazing scent. You may add some water to the mix if the salsa is too thick. The trick to make a delicious salsa is to pour indiscreet loads of love into the blend.
In a deep pot, preferably made of crafted clay, medium-heat some vegetable oil or pork fat. Don’t let it get to hot! Fry the sliced onions until they look glassy, along with the Cambray potatoes. Place then the snook chops and seal them on both sides. Be careful! If the oil is too hot when you place the snook chops, it may splash you!
Hold them from staying too long on the fire by themselves: add the great-looking salsa on top and make sure it covers all of the fish and potatoes. Then, adjust the heat to medium-high, cover the pot and let it boil. To make sure the pot contains all the flavor of the Mexican South-East Coast, keep on dancing while it all boils beautifully and breath in the wonderful aroma.
It’ll be ready when the potatoes are soft to the pinch of a fork. Serve a snook chop with four pretty potatoes on each plate. You can accompany this dish with some white Mexican rice (you may want to ask my mom for that recipe). Invite a friend over… or keep it all to yourself!


The story behind this recipe
Arousing the senses.

When I was little my mother strived to keep my hair in place for school or church. Because of my curiosity to explore all surroundings available—and the moisture heat constantly overwhelming my forehead—this was a fight she would always lose.
As a full-time housewife and mother, she cooked for my siblings and me every single day. Hence, her hands permanently smelled of the ingredients of the food she had prepared. She would stand before me, braiding my wild curls as I inhaled the scent off her fingers. But the aroma I enjoyed the most was that of the acuyo weed—also known as yerbasanta.
By the Mexican Gulf coast, we Veracruzans dance, laugh and eat amazing seafood dishes, although acuyo snook chops has always been my favorite. I remember like it was yesterday: I see my mom facing the stove, holding a spoon, dancing to salsa but vigilant of a boiling pot, sensing the whole house swamping into a velvety atmosphere of scents, so thick that it could almost have been put a collar on and kept as a pet. The acuyo smell cracked the senses with a sweet-sour wave at the always embellishing presence of garlic. Along in the blend, onions and jalapeños joined the sloshing snook chops and potatoes in the dark green salsa.
The aroma was so amazing that it couldn’t be kept contained only in my mother’s kitchen, so it escaped from the pot into the bedrooms and through the windows to the street, gathering cats, insects and other tiny creatures like me who felt caressed by a strange force of Nature when perceiving the succulent fragrance.
All of this arousing experience somehow fit in my mother’s hands. It came back to me every time I got to approximate to her braiding fingers. After my first five or six years of life, she finally decided to have my hair cut—and cut the fighting. Today, away from her and my hometown, I cook my favorite acuyo dish, letting my grown-up-self be transported back to those days, and calling mom on the phone to let her know.

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