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Monday, June 29, 2015

Albuquerque

I arrived a day early in Albuquerque and on the following day, the family started to trickle in from all points of the compass. My niece, Leann, and her husband from Colorado in their newly acquired Euro Van, my other niece and her partner from North Carolina, nephew and wife from Ely, niece and husband from San Jose, Ca. brother and partner from California, sister and husband from Reno, and so on. Our hosts, Lance and Kathy, have a lovely home in the traditional southwest adobe style with a big backyard where much of the festivities took place. The weather was, as is the case in most places these days, strange and unpredictable. Some hot spells, some violent thunderstorms with torrential downpours, some pleasant, warm days. There were a variety of activities to partake of depending on the mood and tastes of the attendees. One morning a group went to a Nature Centre where Lance and Kathy's daughter works. There we participated in a planting exercise. Golfball size balls had been made with dirt, fertilizer and seeds to distribute in a field in order to return it to a natural state. 

So we walked from one end of the field to the other tossing the seed balls around. 




After distributing all of our balls, we learned how to make more and set them out in the sun to dry. This planting strategy insures that birds won't eat the seeds and the seeds will have the nutrients to give them a good start. 

 
Sifting the soil

 
Mixing the soil, seeds and fertilizer with water


 

 
Making seed balls

 
Road runner with catch



For another outing, a group of us went to tour a couple of noteworthy markets. The first, Umami, began as a Thai grocery and has been expanded into a large international market featuring food from most of the major cultures on the planet. The other market was Mercado El Ranco , or something along those lines and catered to the Hispanic community (New Mexico is 55% Hispanic). In this huge super market style store, there was pretty much anything you could ever hope for in the way of ingredients for Mexican or Southwest meals. A group of us were booked for a hot air balloon ride Saturday morning but when we woke up (very early) the weather didn't look very conducive to ballooning. Nonetheless, we went to the launch site and stood around for a while hoping for improvement but it was not to be so we rebooked for the next day. Hungry for breakfast, we took Lance's recommendation for a quintessentially southwest breakfast. The Frontier Restaurant is right across the street from the university and they are set up for volume. School was out and it was early so it wasn't crowded as we shuffled through what looked like cattle chutes to the counter manned by maybe ten guys who were waiting to take orders. I had huevos rancheros that were very good, smothered in green chile. Red and green chile largely defines southwest cuisine. It is served on or with most everything. Every fall, the air in Albuquerque is redolent with the aroma of roasting chiles. After roasting they are peeled and chopped up or left whole, frozen or canned. New Mexico is the only state with a state question: "red or green?"


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