Yesterday, we made our regular trek to the countryside of Hualqui to replenish our supply of Chilean style tortillas. On the way there, an extended set of early Cat Stevens’ music was aired on one of the local radio stations. It had been a long time since I had heard his music played in the U.S., indeed not since Homeland Security and media had turned him into a national villain. Fortunately, his music is still beloved in Chile.
While listening to the music, my thoughts settled into a reverie about the influences of politics and media that determines what a society considers to be the proper patriotic mind. One generation’s heinous enemies become a latter generation’s cherished allies, all depending upon the tide of economics, and the law of supply and demand. Every nation has those that are revered, reviled or relegated to insignificance, as suits political needs. I realized that living life as an expatriate has been quite liberating in self-determination of mind, influences, and opinions. Pundits no longer dictate who, what, when, where and how life is to be accepted.
Perhaps the greatest of change in being an expat has been the shedding of stress, the embracing of simple pleasures, the disengaging from constant consumerism and the pressure to keep up, and the return to living in the present. Life isn’t about living with more, or living with minimalistic less, but living with just the right amount needed to find peace and happiness. In my life as an expat, the quest for the most savory, earthy, humble tortilla has become both an acceptable and cherished pursuit for a rainy, chilly Sunday afternoon.
It is always a pleasure to visit with the family that produces the sustenance for our daily morning cravings. Even though living in the midst of dire poverty, the family demonstrates great happiness, genteelness, friendliness, and dignity. I always leave with greater appreciation for all of the bounty that God has bestowed in my life. It isn’t life’s circumstances that determine one’s actions and life satisfactions, but rather one’s own self-direction.
My own self-direction is to give thanks for our daily modest breakfast of toasted slices of tortilla, the queso fresco (fresh cheese) that another vendor brings to the office every week, and the puree of palta (avocado). They remind me of how good and blessed life really is. It is just the right fortitude and food of thought needed to embrace the dawning of a new day.
In an old edition of Gourmet Magazine, an author had once described this simple dish as being “avocado butter.” In reality, it is a simple mash of avocado, with a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon, and salt to taste.
1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced
1 tbls. extra virgen olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt to taste
Mash avocado(s) in bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and mix together. Add salt to taste.
In Chile, there are many different varieties of avocado. Although the Hass avocado, which was first cultivated and sold by a post officer carrier in California, is commonly grown and exported in Chile, some of my other favorites include the Jack-and-the-Beanstalk-sized Esther avocado (pictured right) and the Fuerte.
Avocados are a surprisingly healthy addition to one’s diet, as they are rich in essential nutrients, high in mono-unsaturated fats, and are a good source of fiber. For more information on the nutritional value of avocados, visit http://www.avocadosfromchile.org.