domingo, 26 de diciembre de 2010

Stollen in the Andes

Another holiday has come and gone. New Year's Eve will mark 6+ months in Peru, and the beginning of what will be a full calender year as a volunteer here in the Andes of Peru. Christmas was filled with hot chocolate, paneton (a fluffy sweet bread with candied fruit), and a lovely nacimiento, or nativity scene in the corner of my room, moss, ceramic animals, Christmas lights and baby Jesus all included.
I spent all of the 23rd preparing stollen, a German Christmas bread, the recipe being handed down from my grandmother to my father to me. Each year I would observe my papa preparing and baking away, sometimes 20 or more of these loaves choc full of rum soaked raisins, candied orange and lemon peel, almonds, and buttery goodness. To be honest I never had the fervor to partake in this productive madness, until now, thousands of miles away. Again, an epic food making process ensued, beginning with the making of the candied peel, buying a quarter liter of rum straight from the local tienda in a used water bottle (not friendly stuff) and getting three kilos of flour donated to me by my host mom. My neighbors agreed to allow me access to their adobe fire wood oven and their teen-age daughter was nice enough to help me chop enough almonds, raisins and orangsat for eight kilos of stollen. It was mixed, let to rise, and hoping that altitude and a rustic oven would work favorably, baked off at about 6pm, by 8pm we took out eight lovely stollen loaves, intact, baked through, and delicious. I was proud as a mother at her kid's graduation, nothing short of a Christmas miracle to be eating an old German family recipe in a rural mountain pueblo in Peru; in this instance I must say, "yay" to Globalization, not for leaving toxic residues of homogeneous culture, but for linking the dots between the past and present with the Cordillera Blanca and the heart of Turingia.
In the days leading up to the 24th, I felt waves of sadness, thinking of home, of the warmth of family, friends, and comfort foods. What I experienced these last few days was not the familiar string of events and people, but I must say in the end I felt that warmth and friendship while sharing hot chocolate from a communal bowl, being visited by curious, nativity scene loving kids, and watching a campo rendition of the birth of baby Jesus. Sitting in the town church, mothers, fathers and children watching Mary and Joseph, searching for shelter, a temporary home where they can safely bring to the world the light of their their new child, I felt I was ready to give this new place a name; home.

Results, fresh stollen and my neighbor's kids, Cintia y Javier


Another friendly visit from Sayda, my baby sis

No hay comentarios: