Tres gatitos! Three kittens. Our housekeeper knew I wanted kittens, and before I could get them from the SPA here she brought three from a litter that a friend's cat had. Three is more than I bargained for -- I wanted one or two -- but here they are. And at 5 weeks they're younger than we're used to, but they are eating canned food and using the litter box: obviously very precocious kittens. I have been cat-less since our cat, Lila Tov (= good night in Hebrew) ran off at the first rest stop on our trip down here in January. As you can imagine, I have spent hours watching them, to the point where I could decide which kitten warranted which name. Hacer (to do) is the most active one. Estar (to be, temporary) is the tentative, skittish one. And Ser (to be, permanent) is the even-tempered one. Great names, yes?
Last week it was Semana Santa (Holy Week) here in San Miguel, and I think the town could exist financially on the tourist income from this week alone. There were huge crowds and the streets were filled with folks looking to make a buck while they could.
For a camera this is irresistible stuff.
And this week in the cooking lesson we made paella marinara! Only seafood, because one person at dinner didn't eat meat or chicken. It was absolutely superb. Here's the recipe.
Maestra de Cocina Yurina Peralta, el 26 abril, 2011
San Miguel de Allende
Recipe for 6 people
3 small crabs, halved
1 lb shrimp
1 lb mussels
½ lb precooked calamari, cut in bite-size pieces
2 filets white fish, cut in bite-size pieces
1 lb green beans, cut in small pieces
½ lb fresh peas
1 red pepper, cut in small pieces
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
3 cups paella rice (precooked so it won’t stick together)
Powdered saffron to taste
Salt to taste
Paella pan: about 18” in diameter, about 6” high, with a cover
Brown onion and garlic.
Add a LOT of water. Heat to just under boiling.
Boil peas separately to soften
Add string beans and calamari
Remove gooey green stuff from crab.
Add crab, shrimp, and mussels. All ingredients spread evenly over pan.
Sprinkle in powdered saffron until water is colored
Add salt to taste
Sprinkle in rice. If wanted, add saffron if color isn’t deep enough
Add peas (when tender) and red pepper.
After a while, add white fish.
Simmer, partially covered for a good while. The rice is very hard and needs time to absorb water. Cook until rice is tender.
At first I thought the paella pan, which Yurina had and loaned to me to make this, was nice but unnecessary. Having cooked the paella, however, I see it is necessary for the ingredients to be spread out flat rather than piled up vertically. The pan was so large we lit four burners under it. So if you make this yourself, use the widest pan you can. And by the way, use whatever seafood you like -- this is what I could get (frozen) here. And/or, pork, chicken, sausage.
Another thing I've meant to talk to you about is medical care here. Since we arrived in January I've had two contacts with the medical establishment. A few weeks ago I got food poisoning from eating something I should have known not to eat -- not local food at all but smoked fish that David and Shree brought with them when they arrived. It had been unrefrigerated too long, and I gambled and lost. When my fever climbed to over 102 degrees we went to the emergency room of the local for-profit hospital, the only one we knew the location of. They gave me medicine for the fever and an anti-biotic, and this cost 2100 pesos, roughly $200, and medicine to take home cost another $65. Next time we'll go to the cheaper hospital here in town, and we now know where it is. Imagine, $200 for a hospital emergency room is too much!
I've also seen another doctor who specializes in gynecology and endocrinology for my insomnia, because it had recently occurred to me that the insomnia dated from about the time of menopause and thus might have something to do with hormones. I checked it out on the web and sure enough, a connection has been established for some women. This man, who came highly recommended, charged way too much because he recently moved here from Mexico City and I think hasn't adjusted his fees yet. He charged 1,000 pesos (about $90), while I'm told that ordinary doctors' fees are 300 or 400 pesos ($27 or $35) and specialists like him charge 500 pesos ($45); I imagine that Dr. Roberto will have to reduce his fees soon. For 1000 pesos I had an extraordinary appointment, from 4:00 to 5:45. First, a detailed health history that took probably an hour. Then a physical exam that included a gynecological exam while we were in the neighborhood, including an ultrasound of my ovaries and uterus, a first for me. Last, prescriptions for estrogen and progesterone, which I took to the pharmacy and filled for about $50. Dr. Roberto spoke excellent English and I liked him very much -- that appointment simply blew me away -- but I told him that he cannot be my regular doctor because I cannot afford him. But imagine what the practice of medicine would be in the US if it weren't for managed care. This was very, very luxurious. And the estrogen seems to be helping! I'll know more in a few more weeks or maybe a couple of months, but there has been improvement that I hope is not just temporary. Now why didn't all those doctors I saw in the US never ask me about the onset or consider the possibility that estrogen might be implicated?