Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stepping out of my comfort zone and enjoying life in community

One of my (Leah's) greatest insecurities about living here in Mexico is cooking for others, well, particularly cooking Mexican food.  Kevin and my first year and a half here in Mexico City was spent living with our Mexican family, and we are blessed with a Mexican mam√° who is an excellent cook.
While living with her I definitely learned some great tips, but overall when it comes to doing things on my own I always worry about how they will be received. Will people like it? Does it taste right? As a result, when hosting, I tend to stick to dishes that are not Mexican. I am already an extranjera or foreigner, so people expect me to be a little different :). However, there are times when I have to make something for a group event, and more often it is a guisado. A guisado is a dish that is generally prepared in one pan with a number of different ingredients. There are probably hundreds of different types of guisados, and they generally are used as taco fillings. Basically, preparing a guisado is the Mexican version of a potluck dish, or perhaps a casserole! Here is a picture of a number of different guisados laid out for a taco bar:
I am definitely a fan of the Mexican potluck, maybe even more so than the American version. Still, when it comes to my own contributions I am always a little nervous about how they will be received. I have perfected one of my favorites, rajas con crema, or peppers in a cream sauce, but that is probably one of the most basic guisados (and delicious) that you can prepare. If I have a choice about what to bring, that's what I do. However, recently I was asked to make some kind of a chicken guisado, so I had to step out of my comfort zone. My friend Nydia had told me how to make a simple chicken guisado a while back, also with a cream sauce, so I decided to give it a try!

The sauce was a blended mixture of cream cheese, sour cream, broth, garlic, poblano peppers, and (according to my friend Nydia the secret ingredient of Mexican cooking) salt. After the sauce was made I shredded cooked chicken and with that I had a chicken guisado! It actually turned out pretty well. 

As I reflected on the fact that I feel unconfident preparing Mexican food for Mexicans I began to see an advantage, I really have to rely on others in order to prepare it. It is a great opportunity for me to reach out to my Mexican friends and continue to put myself in a learning posture and in the process I am able to build relationships and have more practice in humility! This particular time the dish was a success, but it was also a fairly simple recipe. The truth is that in the future as I attempt more complicated dishes there is definitely room for failure! However, even when I "fail" I think it is important to not only look at the final product as what was accomplished, but the entire process and what I learn along the way. Overall, little by little I am letting go of my perfectionist self and learning to enjoy the journey, relying not just on myself but on others and most of all on God.

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