Friday, December 4, 2009

Mosaics & Menus

December 2nd had us trucking downtown to mail our Christmas cards to Canada ($2 each; we don't send that many!). Cards aren't the big business in Ecuador that they are in Canada. In Canada you can find cards in corner stores, drug stores, the grocery store, stationary stores, department stores & believe it or not, card stores. In Ecuador you pretty much can only find cards in card stores and for some reason, toy stores, and there's not all that many to choose from once you do find them. Shelley actually discovered a box of Christmas cards last year in one place and instantly bought it. Otherwise she has only seen individual cards for sale. This year she's determined to go back to the same store and see if once again they have boxed Christmas cards. Curious enough, for Valentines' Day there are cards everywhere! They have a whole block of card vendors beside the Cathedral downtown. Stay tuned for an update in February.

At the post office, and this is the second time we've noticed it, they have absolutely ancient old women directing people to the proper lines. They've been moving wickets around lately (we suppose for the Christmas rush) and this tiny, ancient, lovely woman will tap you on the elbow & direct you to the proper wicket. It's quite delightful!

After mailing our cards, we set off to the market to buy all the ingredients for Shelley's home made salsa. She likes to alternate between making salsa one year at Christmas & antipasto the next. Shelley's ethnic background is Welsh/Norwegian so we have no idea how Latin & Italian recipes became a part of her Christmas traditions. Both recipes can be found under (you guessed it) Recipes on this blog. Buying all the ingredients for the salsa this year cost us about $5!

"It makes 5 or more jars" Shelley gushed at Brian. "And if you were going to buy one at say Capers Market in Vancouver it'd probably cost you $15 bucks!"

In any case, after chopping apples & tomatoes & hot peppers etc. into tiny little pieces, she poured all the ingredients into our slow cooker and let it bubble away for the afternoon. The smell of it cooking was absolutely wonderful!

Setup: We watch English language television with Spanish captions crossing the screen at the bottom. Whenever someone swears, unless it's "my God!" (Mios Dios) or "bitch" (perra), they always put "maldicion" as the Spanish translation (which basically means: curse or swear word).

Scene: Brian's in the bathroom. Shelley's in the front room, lying on the couch, reading. From the bathroom, quite loudly, we hear: "Maldicion!" (not really but we're being polite).

"What is it?" Shelley shouts.

"I've been taking the wrong medication for the last 2 days." Brian explains to her.

After Brian's biopsy he was given 2 antibiotics and 1 pain medication to take. He was quite proud of himself because he didn't have to take any of the pain medication at all until he discovered he'd mixed up the medications and was taking the pain one instead of one of the antibiotics. Whether this was a Brian's obtuse thing or a language problem, we (those other than Brian) don't know. He, of course, switched around the medications and continued to feel no pain so, we trust his infection potential was affected in much the same way.

We'd been invited to Liza Wheeler's solo exhibition at the El Otorongo Cultural Gallery & Cafe and went there to be stunned by her beautiful mosaics. The time & effort & talent it takes for each and every piece is overwhelming. Larry, Liza's husband, helps her make the pieces and he is by far her greatest fan! They're a wonderful couple, a joy to talk to & have an immense dedication to their work! We've had them for dinner a couple of times and take great delight in the mixture of his Texas drawl and her Eastern European accent.

After the exhibit we met up with some friends and went to the Tiestos Restaurant (Juan Jaramillo 7-34 y Borrero) for a wonderful meal. It's Ecuadorian comida tipica but with an avant garde twist (spices & sauces added to make it absolutely wonderful!) They have a menu where it is possible to get individual meals but they specialize in meals intended for 3 or 4 people. We had a chicken dish & a beef dish which we shared between 7 people. They provide bread as an appetizer with 6 or so different pestos & chutneys & hot sauces to spread on it and then with the meat dishes there are several starches like rice & potatoes & pasta & something we couldn't agree what it was, but it was delicious etc. A shared dessert was provided (chocolate mousse cake, passion fruit sorbet & a flavoured whipped cream) displayed in an artistic presentation as well as a home-made almond or coffee liqueur. The owner/chef made several visits to our table making sure all was right with the world. He was charming, personable & at one point took one of our party around the restaurant on a private tour of the art on display.

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