Burn, Burn, Burn!

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Here I have been railing about pumpkin flavored dog days of summer and it turns out My Fair New Mexico had a gut punch to deliver.

Oh Fair, how I adore you, but is it *really* time to burn Zozobra again? I guess it is.

I always really enjoy watching Old Man Gloom burn away my troubles, but to be honest it’s 70 degrees and today I sat out on the patio at lunchtime and drank lemonade while a strappy sandal dangled from a toe.

How can I have gloom in this gorgeous summer weather?

Argh! Not ready, not ready, not ready, : covers ears : lalalalalalalalala I can’t heeeear you!

To assuage my sadness, I sought out my coworker, a fellow New Mexican (not a native but lived in Santa Fe for many years) and said “dude, did you know they burn Zozobra tonight?”

He had wide eyes like me, then said “That must mean mariachis are currently wandering through the streets of Santa Fe.”

Then we both got wistful.

After a few moments I said, “Man, I sure remember those days of being wobbling drunk on the plaza and shouting ‘burn, burn, burn!”

The effect of chanting while Old Man Gloom burned and groaned and flapped his arms was always very visceral.

I could tell my coworker was remembering too. He nodded solemnly in agreement. Then we sighed in unison.

Yeah. Days like these make me miss my home state. A lot.

Oh Fair New Mexico, I love, I love you so.

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Side note: Lest anyone learn about Zozobra and think it’s a knock off of Burning Man, I should note that the purely New Mexico tradition of burning Zozobra started in 1926. Burning Man started in 1986. And the Celtic tradition of burning the wicker man is even older than that.

Fun fact: Zozobra’s hair color changes every year. It was yellow last year and photos on Mr Z’s Facebook page would make it seem this year his hair is gray. (Edit: I was fooled, it is green this year) Details for tonight’s event are here.








Image from the ABQJournal and first published in 2010.




Live From Under The ‘Over

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There is no such thing as ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ sangria. Sangria is a party drink designed to get your guests drunk really cheaply.

— Damian Corrigan, About.com Guide

Well, what Damian lacks in tact he makes up for by being right. Isn’t truth the best defense? Yes, I think so.

I found this quote when I Googled “how to make traditional sangria” because all of the sudden I have noticed that sangria has become cool. Except, the sangria they are serving in bars and restaurants these days cost $15 a glass and doesn’t taste right. It has become something hipster and these children are tinkering around.

What happened? No one knows how to make sangria right anymore!

In the folds and recesses of my mind, I remember someone’s mom or abuela telling me “Oh, Sangria is easy, just buy the cheapest sweet red wine you can find, pour it in a pitcher then cut up a bunch of fruit and drop it in there and let it sit for a couple days.”

That’s it. That’s how I recall it being told and that’s how I recall sangria should be made. Sweet, fruity, and inexpensive. It takes a few days to make it right. Land of Mañana. A little slow and easy on a hot summer day.

These days bars make “sangria” on the spot, mixing some red wine, some other hard liquor (brandy, vodka, rum or in the case of a restaurant in San Francisco, I swear it’s everclear) and tossing in a couple orange slices.

It doesn’t taste right. It wasn’t given time to do what good sangria should do.

I remember as a child, my mom confiding in me that the best sangria she’d ever had was at La Tertulia** in Santa Fe. I remember dining with the folks and all the adults at the table seemed to love the stuff, like kids and Kool-Ade.

Later as an adult I got to give a pitcher of La Tertulia’s nectar a sip for myself, and by god mom was absolutely right. Ab-so-loot-lee. Mom knows her sangria.

So all this sangria angst was dusted up because over the weekend while at my local Trader Joe’s, I picked up a bottle of Maria Ole Sangria that had been touted so highly in the sales circular.

I put that bad boy in the ‘fridge to get nice and cold and last night on a really mellow evening, I cracked it open and poured some out.

It was pretty terrible. Really terrible. I finished the glass and decided to give it a chance. Sometimes crappy wine needs a second glass. That’s my theory anyway. Second glass didn’t do much to improve this swill.

Very disappointing.

And the worst of it? Today I am slightly hungover. Not in a big way but in that “shoot, I drank some crappy wine last night” and now I’m mad. Good old fashioned aged sangria is usually mellowed out enough that it doesn’t hurt the head.

This new era of not really sangria not only hurts my head, it hurts my heart.

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**Sadly, La Tertulia is no more. I shall always remember their indian tacos and their sopaipillas and yes, their delicious sangria. *sigh* Pour one out for a NM institution…..











Image found here.




This Land is *My* Land

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I rather enjoy reading The Pioneer Woman’s site. She’s an amazingly versatile woman, and I’m always impressed.

On her homeschooling section of the blog, one of her guest contributors is taking a summertime road trip around the country, and blogging about many of the stops. It’s fun to see all the places where she and her family stop and explore.

But the latest update is the one that caught my attention.

And I quote: “…we weren’t necessarily ready for the looooooong drive through the rather arid, xeriscape of Eastern New Mexico.”

Also: “Not too far outside of Santa Fe, everything looked a bit like this…for about 3 1/2 hours.”



Photo by Heather Sanders



Well….sheeyah! Welcome to the real West.

I love it when people are shocked at the big empty that is New Mexico.

Though I’d rather we all just kept it our little secret.