Chile de Ciruela
Greetings from the heart of the mountains imbued with cavernous underground rivers that give birth to springs that feed torrents of water – water that loves to traverse ravines into vibrant life-giving rivers – all celebrated with ceremonies bearing gifts of milpa, cempasúchil, tamales, and the prayers of people. Upon me grows a collective of mighty resilient relatives from the amate, guamuchil, azuchil, nopal, ciruelo, chamol amongst many others that together survive the intense dry season and thrive in the nourishing rains. I would like to present to you one of my daughters – Marlene Brito Millán – who carries a piece of my spirit in her soul, who despite having to leave, always finds a way to come back. She loves to caretake and tend to the land by growing milpa, planting trees, restoring the health of water, and learning the recipes and medicines of her ancestors – she tries her best to humbly practice and pass-on life-centered traditions, stories, and song that sustain and reciprocate the wellbeing of all in our community.
Recipe Name: Chile de Ciruela
The Ciruela tree grows its fruit at the end of the intense subtropical dry season. Each tree produces fruits that range in color from golden yellow to maroon to red splendor. Undertaking a miraculous feat, this fruit is ready to pick after 4 to 5 months without rain. It is the ultimate example of how we can resist the most dire conditions and still be able to draw from the depths of our beings to flourish and give to our children – the new fruits that carry the seeds of future generations of promise. Fruits that taste of a wide variety of sweetness and bitterness – expressions of the diverse embodiments needed to confront and flourish in the face of what is to come.
Historically, Chile de ciruela is a dish that helped nourish people when stored food supplies (maiz, beans, and squash) were starting to dwindle at the end of the dry season (and months before the rains for the new growing season came). Across the Mexican southern state of Guerrero, communities and families prepare this life-restoring dish in their own way according to their traditions. Actually eating this dish is also an experience as most savor the juices of the fruit, but being careful to spit out the hard seeds.
¼ kilo of bitter ciruela
¼ kilo of sweet ciruela
6-8 Chiles de árbol (spiciness to taste)
1 large Fresh Garlic cloves
Protein options: pork rib/ offal cuts or eggs
1. Wash ciruelas.
2. Boil in water (at water level just above ciruelas) until they are soft.
3. Squash cooked ciruelas (to form salsa to desired consistency) in molcajete or with a cup.
4. Separately, roast Chile de árbol
5. Blend/mix roasted Chile with 1 fresh garlic clove and a little water in blender.
6. Pour blended chile into pan with ciruela sauce and salt to taste.
*For protein portion:
7. Cook pork or eggs with onion separately.
8. Add to Chile de Ciruela and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or so.
*Accompany with black beans and/or rice.
*Must be served with hand-made tortillas de maiz.