Mmmm, Burritoes

We had burritoes for dinner last night. I made them from my family’s traditional recipe, a tradition only about 45 years old, but they all have to start somewhere.

Living in Davao, finding the right Mexican food that fits the tastebuds of my Arizona, Sonora desert influenced and my husband’s southern California tastebuds is difficult.

I only recently discovered a grocery store that even carries refried beans, a key ingredient. I haven’t even seen pinto or kidney beans, canned or dried. I’m sure they are around here somewhere, but when I have to take a cab to go grocery shopping, my options are limited.

So, in order to make burritoes for dinner:
I call ahead to my Korean friend and Dong-Gap Minha’s Filipina household help, Rosaline, and order tortillas- she needs at least 24 hours notice, sometimes 72 hours. They cost about the same as in the states, but they are worth every penny.

I plan ahead and on Monday or Wednesday have my own helper pick up peppers and red onions from the palingke (open air market under a big roof, not that open air, very smelly and sometimes slippery) and possibly 2 kg of minced beef at the meat market. The peppers may or may not be spicy, I haven’t been able to make my wants clear on this.

Go to Gaisano, or G-mall, where I seldom go because they are glitzier and more expensive but they are my ownly source for refried beans and good salsa. There is a Philippine brand of salsa at another store I shop at more regularly but the spicy version is not at all spicy, it’s super sweet and gross to my palate. What we’ve decided to do is buy something like ten jars and cans each at a time because otherwise, it’s not worth it to go back just for the salsa and refried beans.

Buy cheese at the mall where I usually shop (all grocery stores are in malls). Its pretty expensive as cheese goes, but it’s just the two of us, so I splurge. Sometimes I buy sour cream. IT comes in a container the size of individual yogurts at home and costs around three or four dollars. I don’t always buy it. I also buy tomato sauce in foil pouches because metals are more expensive here, and there is an emphasis on lightweight containers. I could buy the meat and vegetables there, too, but they will cost a lot more.

Then, a couple days after the last of these supplies has been brought in, I get up at 6 a.m. to chop the vegetables and fry them with the meat, and maybe dice tomatoes and extra onions, and grate the cheese and put it back in the fridge. I do that this early because I prefer to do those things when it’s only 90 degrees in the house instead of 100. I exaggerate- it’s been in the mid-80s a lot lately. Then in the evening, I roll the burritoes and serve them tomatoes, sour cream, salsa, and sometimes guacamole on the side, depending on the season.

You can see we are desperately hungry for famliar Mexican food. One does not simply have an urge to eat certain food and fix it by suppertime, unless it’s pretty basic. Even a lot of Filipino dishes require some advance planning. More likely, people go to the market and make plans for meals based on rice and what’s at the market for a good price.

It’s a bit inconvenient and we’d save time and money if we did without the burritoes. On the other hand, you never really understand just how valuable a taste from home is until you’ve been without it. No matter how much I love fresh shrimp, kinilaw, crispy kang kong, and green mango shakes, sometimes nothing but a cheese tortilla will do. And also, a good avocado costs about 60 cents or less right now because they are in season. So there’s that..=)

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