Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blogfeast, San Antonio style

I hadn't planned on posting today but I found out about Angela McAllister's Food blogfest and just couldn't resist. Why don't you head over to Angela's and check out the other entries -- guaranteed to make you hungry!

But before you go, here's my own entry, taken from "La Luna," the serial short fiction that ran in Woman's Weekly in the UK from August 10-August 31. The story is about Serina, the chef/owner of a restaurant on San Antonio's Riverwalk.

Soon she was weeping over piles of chopped onions, though she smiled broadly and hummed “Celito Lindo” in absence of the mariachis. The pork simmered in its red chile sauce, raising a fragrant haze in the kitchen. She lost herself in the preparation, soaking the dried corn husks, roasting peppers, grating the potato-like jicama for the slaw.

When the meat was ready, she began making the tamales. She spread the fluffy corn masa on the softened husk, topping it with a large dollop of shredded pork, and rolling it together so the meat was enclosed like a prize within the package. She tied it shut with a strip of corn husk and started on the next. Though pyramids of tamales grew before her, it would take her another hour to finish them all. With the back of her hand, she brushed away a loose strand of hair and stretched her back, remembering the tamaladas at Christmas time, the traditional tamale-making party where her mother and aunts and grandmother would roll up their sleeves and make hundreds of tamales for the holidays. She smiled to think of the contests to see who could make the most, the laughter when someone was caught out for skimping on the filling or splitting a husk. In face of those memories, Serina’s kitchen seemed very empty, the only sound the rain pinging on the metal vent above the stove. She shoved the pang of loneliness away and continued her tasks, stopping only briefly to flick on the radio to drown out the silence.

The group arrived early, shaking the rain of jackets and umbrellas. Serina noted immediately the absence of any women in the party and chided herself for feeling relieved; she’d secretly feared Eric would bring a date. Once the guests were settled with their drinks, however, she almost wished for the presence of another woman to dilute their attentions. The men – some very young, some older, all charming – were quick to wink, touch her arm, even pat her hip as she walked by. To occupy their hands and thoughts, she quickly brought out the first course of squash soup with roasted corn and poblanos, crowned with a complicated nest of tortilla strips.

The wine began to flow and with each course – chile-fried Gulf oysters, mesquite-grilled prawns on jicama-mango slaw – the men grew louder and more effusive in their complements. At Eric’s pressing, she bent her own rule and joined them in a glass of Argentine Zinfandel, as red and rich as liquid rubies. When the tamales were unwrapped like gifts at Christmas, the men broke into applause and Serina finally fled to the kitchen, her face aflame and heart afire from pleasure of a meal so well appreciated.
What can I say? I love the food of San Antonio!

So now go check out Angela at Jaded Love Junkie and all the other entries. I'm going to do the same, but first I need some breakfast. All this food talk has made my stomach rumble.


  1. I like the progression of this piece. You can imagine the characters and scene very well :O)

  2. This excerpt was exactly what the BlogFeast was invented for! I love it. You have a great voice.

  3. I'd definitely want to read more of this, so well written.

    Even Zombies Have Taste

  4. I'm so hungry such aromas came through your scene!

  5. First of all, loved the scene in the kitchen. I love Jicama salad... hmm with limon y chili (Tajin spice does nice as well). Also, I've made tamales with a group of women down here in Mexico. It's a fun time getting our hands covered in masa. My favorite is Tamales Dulce. Have you tried it? With pasas (raisins) and nuts?

    Next, went to your website. Loved the excerpt from the magazine! Wow, what a rush to see your writing in a Woman's magazine!

    I loved your comment on my website. What sites do you think would be interested?


  6. Hi,

    Fabulous scene, glorious food and beautifully written. This is so unfair, because my stomach is now protesting lack of nourishment!


  7. All the food sounds so appetizing. I enjoyed reading this. And now I'm hungry!

  8. I like how you slip from food focus, to the food moving to the background and drawing out the characters. Very nice narrative.

  9. Wow! Descriptive piece. Great job! ;)

  10. Bryan is spot on about the arc going on in this very well-written excerpt! I love how the cooking brought up sentimental memories of her family. And OMG, the food descriptions were luscious. You've inspired me to travel some day to San Antonio, so now your task is to open the restaurant in your story so I can order this food :) My taste buds are savoring the flavors already because you describe the dishes so well. Plus you make me curious about her relationship with Eric. A crush? An ex? A friend she wants as more?

    I'm so glad you came upon my blogfest post and decided to join in!

  11. Holy tamales! I wanted to go to the kitchen and eat after I read this. Nice job.

    Sorry for being a day late. Forgetting is new for me. I have posted mine anyway, in case you are so inclined to stop by.

  12. Oh my gosh, you wrote this with such amazing sensory detail. Now I HAVE to get off this computer and get some food. I've been putting off eating, but I can hold out no longer. It's your fault!

  13. Oh yummy! Have never had tamales but dying for one now! Love the sensory detail in the fod--er, piece! :)

  14. just said the magic word. Now I can't wait for Christmas! *gets ready to roll up sleeves for tamales*