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In the Mexican culture, is the feeling you have when you conquer your fears and chase your dreams. It's always the simple things in life that ground us the most
Backpack over my shoulder, I passed place after place. So many were filled with tourists and loud polka music, right next door to vendors with their colorful trinkets that lined the narrow streets. Not a negative, it's just not for me
After a while, I started to grow desperate. Surely there has to be something. There has to have been someone, a kindred spirit who couldn't have lived in a place with such a void
Indeed there was
The minute I rounded the corner, I knew. Such a beautiful space, quiet tables, cool posters on the wall, people sitting with their kindles, quotations on signs (I always wonder the stories behind their personal significance)
I found a table, ordered this salad, and a ritual was born
Though they had no idea, as the days passed, this beautiful community of people, in the small open-air cafe gave me so much more than a delicious meal every evening
It was here that I sat, headphones in my ears listening to webinars and studying for a Nutrition Coaching Certification I'd wanted to finish. It was here I clicked the button “Take the Exam now. You have 90 minutes to finish. Good luck!”
Instinctively I knew I'd passed, a milestone completed.
More to come ..
On day six, I acknowledged that even this introvert might need human conversation. People I love from afar, I'm sure, thought they were bothering me if they reached out. It made me a little homesick to not have daily hellos in my inbox.
So I started practicing my Spanish, sketchy at best, with the waiter. I googled my words, smoothie with almond milk .. just a little oil when cooking my fajita meat. Sadly, I'll skip dessert
When I asked Alberto if I could write about his cafe and feature the salad I loved so much. He told me more about the story. Just as I suspected, because of his great fondness and remembrance of coffee shops in San Francisco and New York, he'd set out to create a space that he truly loved – island style.
Opening the day of the first new moon, 2009
My final evening, I ate my salad, slowly slid my laptop into my backpack, and said my good-byes. I'll miss my open-air reprieve, and am excited to come home
Thank you to my far away friends at Cafe Mogagua, for
Big smiles and cheek kisses
Comfy and colorful chair cushions
Incredible green tea
Bearing with me as I asked the Google Gods for Mexican translations
Cooking fajitas in just a little bit of oil
Creating a beautiful island refuge
and for being just .. so .. incredibly cool
ps: Frida Kalho was a Mexican painter who is perhaps best known for her self-portraits. Her work is remembered for its “pain and passion” along with it's intense, vibrant colors. I can't think of a better name for this colorful salad.
pps: Don't forget to add your favorite protein to make this a balanced meal (I always chose shrimp)
~ Adapted from Emeril at Food Network
Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp dark brown sugar, optional
- 1 Tbsp chopped garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Beat the balsamic vinegar in a bowl with the sugar, garlic, salt, and pepper until sugar and salt dissolve.
- Then beat in the oil by droplets, whisking constantly. (Or place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine.)
- Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the salad mix and desired salad ingredients, top with blue cheese and serve immediately.
- If not using dressing right away, cover and refrigerate, whisking or shaking again before use.