70 of 101: peruvian stew for carlitos

it is a long-standing tradition for members of a community to make and bring a meal to a family following a birth or a death.  it’s a tradition that i want to practice more than i have in the past. which is why it is on my list of 101 in 1001.

i recently finished a book that is all about the theology of house-keeping. and it was very good. probably it will be its own post soon enough. but for now, i want to give one excerpt from it that informs this idea of bringing meals to others at times when cooking proves more difficult.

when we cook, we produce things to eat, of course, but we produce something else too: acts of kindness… cooking is something that naturally overflows its boundaries, that leads to there being leftovers to share with someone, a pot of soup that can stretch to feed a guest or two, an extra loaf of bread to give to a neighbor.

(Margaret Kim Peterson, Keeping House: A Litany of Everyday Life, pg 119)

so last week carlos and jeanette had their second son, carlitos (“little carlos”), and it seemed a perfect opportunity to practice this value. when carlos stopped in on sunday and asked me to hold hakobo a moment whilst he switched around car seats, i blurted, “can i cook you guys dinner this week?” “sure,” he said, very casually.

carlos is incredibly hospitable. when he threw a birthday party for hakobo this fall, there were 30 people there with about as much diversity in age, sexual orientation, gender, culturals, and social groups as there could be. he and jeanette are very good at celebrating, very good at keeping an open door. i think, therefore, that it didn’t seem like a significant offer, this idea of me bringing them dinner.

regardless, tonight i made a double batch of peruvian quinoa stew (a favorite recipe from Moosewood Cooks at Home). i ladled half of it into a pyrex, and t and i went across the hall to offer it up. when carlos opened the door, the thick and heady smell of frying meat assaulted our senses. there he was, cooking up what appeared to be about 3 pounds of beef. “i finally went out for food,” he said, smiling.

so i handed over my very vegetarian stew, explaining quinoa, and put it into the fridge for another evening, when perhaps they will be more in need of it. no fuss was made whatsoever, only that sort of thanks that takes for granted that such a kindness would be shown on the ocassion of a birth.

then jeanette brought out carlitos, all wrapped in blue receiving blankets, and for a few glorious moments, i held his 6 lb, 4 oz body in my arms and gazed at his wide-open, big brown eyes. so precious.

i don’t know if they will like our quinoa stew. if i could have done it over, i would have given some notice, would have perhaps attempted to sit down to table with them. but, then again, in this fashion, they can carry on with their adjustment to new life in peace. and eat when they are too weary to cook. and that is enough.

now, as a bonus to you, dear reader, here is the recipe:  Peruvian Quinoa Stew–Moosewood


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