Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Painting a Verbal Picture of Sopaipillas

I am going to paint you a picture of my favorite New Mexican treat. I am going to paint the picture with words. 
I love to eat sopaipillas. How is that pronounced? It is pronounced, so pie pee ya, with the accent on the third syllable, pee.Remember that a double L in Spanish makes a Y sound. 
What is a sopaipilla? In its simplest definition, it is deep fried flat bread. But there is so much more to it. 
Imagine yourself in a small town in New Mexico, in your grandmother’s kitchen. This New Mexican town is a mile high in elevation and therefore the sky is a brilliant blue bordering on turquoises. The warm dry summer day keeps you from sweating. A northern breeze teases your hair while allowing the cottonwood trees to cackle and clatter stories of the children who played under their branches. Off in the distance a dust devil dances across a vacant field, You can almost hearing it singing its dusty swushing song. I mentioned New Mexico because that is where the best sopaipillas are made.
Imagine your grandmother getting out a big ceramic bowl and pouring flour, baking soda and a few secret things that you saw her put in, but didn't know what they were. And you knew better than to interrupt your grandma when she was doing you a favor, that favor of making your favorite treat. 
Your grandmother kneaded the dough in the bowl and then she would grab a handfull and roll it into a flat ball, the size of a small doughnut. Your eyes would be fixed on her hands as she took a large wooden rolling pin to spread out the dough. It would look like a thick tortilla. 
She would take her knife and cut the flattened dough into triangles. Sometimes she would cut a Mickey Mouse shape for you. And then she’d put them into a tray and let them sit on the counter while she would into the backyard to start a fire on a portable stove. She placed a large steel pot that was half full of lard over the top of the fire. When the lard became so hot that it started to smoke, She would ask you to go into the kitchen and bring the dough triangles. 
She would take a few of the triangles and place them into the smoking lard. The triangles would puff up like a little pillows and  float on the surface of the lard. Your grandmother would use tongs to turn the sopaipilla over to make sure that it was golden brown. When both sides were golden brown she took them out and place them in a bowl. 
When my grandmother make sopaipillas the temptation for me to steal one was almost too much to bear. OK. I admit it. I would steal one every once in a while.
Imaging taking the bowl of hot sopaipillas back in to the kitchen, placing them on the table and then eating one. You would eat sopaipillas in place of bread at dinner, After dinner you would eat sopaipillas for desert with honey or sprinkled  sugar and cinnamon.
I'm starting to crave a sopaipilla. I wonder if I could talk Denise into making some. She won't use lard, though. She'll use canola oil.

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