Sunday, December 11, 2005

Caldito Weather

Listening to radio statioin KURV, you may hear Sergio Sanchez refer to the weather we had recently as "caldito weather." Mmmm, caldo. I have to agree with Sergio. Caldo is awesome in cool weather.

For the uninitiated in Rio Grande Valley culture, caldo is soup. It can be chicken or beef soup. Caldo generally has cabbage, carrots, potatos, corn on the cob, and chayote, a kind of squash. Some people add some celery or other greens. You garnish the soup with cilantro. You also squeeze some lemon into the soup. In the Valley, we hardly use yellow lemons, we use limes. We just say lemons because we don't use lemons and the only thing close to one is a lime. Geez, my mouth is watering while I write this. If you just have the soup by itself, it's not really filling. You need to eat caldo with a rolled up tortilla in the same way most people eat food with a roll or a biscuit. This may be enough to introduce you to one of our favorite dishes. To really make your caldo complete, you need sopa de arroz, which is known as Spanish rice. Just add some sopa to the caldo and your favorite salsa (don't desecrate it with Pace, picante sauce is not the same as salsa). That's heaven right there.

When shopping for caldo ingredients, you are fortunate if you live in a market where there are Mexicans. Our local HEB grocery stores and others have pre-packed caldo vegetables. Just add meat and water. I even saw frozen caldo vegetables. If you don't live in the Rio Grande Valley or have the good fortune to have a Mexican population, the ingredients are easy to find anywhere. Simply substitute chayote with zucchini and make do without tortillas.

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