Best Cocido in the World
The high green fence glowed in the diffused sunlight. Rain pelted me as
I stood on the sidewalk to shoot a picture. Worse, traffic suddenly appeared,
a car and two pickups slowly passing with curious stares at the vato standing in the
rain taking a picture.
Hunger growled in my stomach. I was near Millan's Ranchito, a restaurant
I'd passed many times driving to Tommy's, or El Gallo Giro, or Yoshinoya, or
a host of places. I squeezed into the tight parking lot, landing the last spot
as if I’d called ahead. Millan’s bowl of cocido came rich and hot to
the table with all the right garnishes: sopita de arroz, lime, chopped onion,
cilantro leaves no stems. Tasty flexible tortillas de harina. Maybe it was the cold
day but that was a darn good bowl of cocido.
So today, a beautifully sunny day, I find myself aimlessly cruising. Ended
up at 5803 Soto Street, a bowl of Millan's cocido de res on the table. The
hueso had the callo in it, the abundant meat had been cooked to fork tenderness.
A large papa sat on top. Unlike so many other’s cocido, Millan's Ranchito
doesn't substitute chayote for papas. The main difference between Millan's
cocido and the best homemade is that tiny chunk of corn. At home, you toss
in whole elotes. The best cocido in the world is the one my grandmother made. Neither
you nor I will ever taste its equal. However, you can taste the second best
cocido in the world, if you come to Huntington Park.
|My grandmother lived on Lawton Street, close to the packing house at the edge of the orange groves that stretched from Redlands to Bryn Mawr to the wash. In those days she kept a wood-burning stove running and a pot of soup going.|
Was I four? Three? I remember taking my seat at the table, my grandmother places
a bowl of cocido in front of me. Ignoring my protests about the chile japones
pods, she pinches a few seeds into my caldo, shushing my protests. She squeezes
a lemon half into the soup, places a hot tortilla de harina in my hand.
Speaking of food, the Multi Ethnic Literature in the United States group solicits papers on the role or use of food in chicana chicano literature. What the? I’m challenged to think of novels that play on food. Laura Esquivel's Como Agua Para Chocolate is the only one that stands out. There's a menudo party in the same author's Swift As Desire, and I remember a falso writer whose ruse was uncovered when he has a Mexican lad sit down to a steaming bowl of Mondongo. Now in poetry, food abounds; from Alurista’s “Tortilla Host” in his collection Nationchild Plumaroja c.1968-69 to Elba Rosario Sanchez’ “Lover’s Ode” in Calaca Press’ When Skin Peels CD.
What am I missing here? Who, where, have chicana chicano writers made food