Roberto Griego Arriba, Musica Nuevo Mexico
Fifteen years ago, the Sweetie and I took a long, circular drive from Eugene to San Diego, Tucson, El Paso, San Antonio, New Orleans, Savannah, Myrtle Beach; then turned left and went home through South Carolina, Tennessee, Hot Springs, Arkansas, Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Las Vegas—whew. One of our favorite stops was Albuquerque, New Mexico. This year we’ll be able to visit family there. New decade—new adventure.
We had a great time in 2005, loved the city, and wrote stories along the way. Here’s my remembrance of Albuquerque.
March 2005, Albuquerque, NM—“Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow”
When you’re on the road, the basic responsibilities are the next meal, the next bed, and what’s around the next corner. Bob drove every inch of our trip, cheerful and steady through sun, rain, snow, and the dead of night. I rode shotgun: folding and unfolding maps, providing snacks, and uncapping water bottles—it works for us. The drive through the Arkansas hills to Albuquerque wound up hills, around long S-curves, local highways and small towns—perfect conditions for a small, red sports car or (as it were) a large, green, four-door sedan.
Our colds were well developed by the time we reached New Mexico—Bob was red-nosed and teary-eyed, I was hoarse and prone to prolonged coughing fits. We blew through each box of hotel Kleenex and begged housekeeping for more. By the second day in Albuquerque, I was ready to submit and stay in bed for the duration—but the sun beckoned, Bob insisted, and we had the best shopping experience.
The day before, as we were driving through downtown to the hotel, we noticed a small souvenir shop near Albuquerque’s Old Town and returned for a closer look. The Palms Trading Company was a nondescript stucco building with a packed parking lot. A light, dry snow had begun to fall, but it didn’t look like it would stick. Once inside, we saw plenty of possible mementos. We separated—Bob to the jewelry, me to the pottery/rug room. There was a surprising absence of threatening signs. No “If you break it, it’s yours”, “You’re being watched”, or “Touch it and you’ve bought it”; instead only a mild “Children at loose will be sold into slavery”—perfectly understandable.
We found each other almost immediately. Bob had seen a lovely bangle—$300; I had picked up a small vase—$750.00. We chose $2000 bowls, $800 dishes, $2000 baskets, $3000 bracelets: obviously we were in the wrong place. The Palms Trading Company is a wholesale market for New Mexican Native American potters, jewelers, rug makers, and basket weavers and the shelves were crowded with exquisite examples of their art.
We watched in awe as a trio of art dealers spent at least $100,000 stocking up for their toney Santa Fe gallery. Undaunted, we picked up a $40.00 basket and some “On Sale” placemats. Walking out, we tried to rationalize the purchase of a $600 Hopi Wedding Vase, took one last look at the turquoise, and went to M&J’s for lunch. The dry snow continued, it did stick, and we got stuck.
M & J’s Sanitary Tortilla Factory: Carne Adovado
Red Chili Puree:
· 2 cups water
· 8-10 dried red chile pods
· Tear tops off of chile pods and use knife or finger to clean out seeds and veins inside of each one. Place pods in large pot and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook several minutes until pods are soft. Place drained pods (save water) in blender container, then pour 1/2 of liquid into blender and blend until smooth, add 1-2 cloves garlic if desired. Add more water as needed. Strain thru a mesh sieve to remove any skins that did not blend up in the blender.
4-6# Pork Butt:
· Cut pork butt into four sections by slicing once horizontally through the pork loin (with the grain) then once vertically down the middle (across the grain).
· 4 cloves smashed garlic
· 1 T. salt
· 1 T. Mexican oregano
· 1 cup of the Red Chile Puree
· 1 cup red wine vinegar
Put the pork into a plastic or glass container and cover completely with marinade and let it marinate in the refrigerator at least 24 hours.
· 2 T. shortening
· 2 T. flour
· 2 C. red chile puree
· 2 C. chicken broth
· 3/4 t. salt
· 1/2 t. garlic powder
· Dash oregano
Heat shortening in medium-size saucepan on medium heat. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add red chile puree and cook for about another 5 minutes. Gradually add chicken broth and whisk to remove lumps. Add seasoning to sauce and simmer at low heat for 10-15 minutes.
After marinating pork for a minimum of 24 hours, remove the pork from the marinade and cut into cubes approximately 1″ square, put into a shallow pan (about 3″ deep) and cover with all the Chile Colorado. Simmer in 300˚oven for two hours. About 10 minutes before you’re ready to eat, add layer of shredded Mexican cheese over the top and heat until the cheese is fully melted. Serve with warm flour tortillas, pinto beans and Spanish or Mexican rice.