For those of you who may not have ever seen me in person, I am ridiculously tall, especially considering my teensy Lilliputian of a mother. I am of the Express/Hollister/Abercrombie school of outfits. I rarely wear anything on my feet that doesn’t have the little swoosh on them, lovingly embroidered by the delicate, nimble fingers of children in third world countries. I am shockingly pale and I wear pink lipstick, despite being in my mid-twenties. I am, basically, the absolute epitome of “White Chick.” So this next story should come as no surprise to you. This is an actual transcript of an email that I sent Chris yesterday. Enjoy.
“I have a story for you. This will hopefully help your lunch go down easier, although my imagination tells me you will likely be expelling beef fry-riiiice out your nose when you picture it.
I was WAY sore this morning from a)losing my poor big toenail to the colors and pageantry of running so freakin’ much and b)just the simple ACT of running so freakin’ much. I determined that doing a spinning class this morning where I was expected to jam my toes into the front of a pedal basket and climb imaginary bitch-hills was probably not ideal. Also my knee was clamoring for either attention or vicodin, I’m not sure which. What it might actually GET is amputated. Yeah knee, you heard me.
So I went online and saw a class was being held at 10:30 called “Zoomba.” I read the description and it said “A motivating cardio class using upbeat Latin rhythms” or something like that. I thought to myself, “Hey, self! Let’s go get motivated! To Latin rhythms!” This was my first mistake.
I showed up to class in cheer shorts and a fitted tee-shirt because I thought they created the illusion of being tall AND thin. Turns out this was my second mistake. The studio was full of about 15 “curvy” hispanic women, 1 EXTRA-curvy but very pretty black girl, and myself–the hipless wonder. The instructor was a bodacious Latina. There was a (frankly) unnecessary amount of spandex happening, considering the cpi (cellulite per inch). “Okay,” I thought, “This can’t be so bad if they’re all so…thick.” Third mistake.
The music came on, and it was unmistakably upbeat and Latin. We began the warm up, and I noticed there was far more pelvic activity in this warm-up than the ones for, oh, I don’t know, my kickboxing classes. It only went downhill from there.
You know how Dennis said he saw a class at Spectrum once that looked like it was a stripper class. This was the one. Only it wasn’t so much “stripper” as it was “Mexican dance club.” Part traditional dance, including (I’m ashamed to say) the use of a pair of hot pink maracas, and part bizzaro Swayze-esque nuevo-dirty-dancing. Would you like to guess how much rhythm the class required, versus how much rhythm I actually am in posession of at any given moment? That’s right. It was ridiculous.
In some dances there were parts where we’d wave our hands in the air in sweeping circles, then stopping to do those pushes away from our chest while our chest bounced forward and back, finally culminating in what I could only describe as “that dance where you back that ass up.” At one part we actually did the dance that you’ frequently perform when you complete a level on an Xbox game. You know, where you pretend to ride a horse around the room? Yes. That one.
What was interesting about this is that the curvy Latinas were SKILLED at this business. They looked smooth and sensual and at one with the music. They managed to follow all of the arbitrary steps like a choreographed Bring It On routine in a ghetto dance club. They looked GOOD. The one black woman followed along pretty well, looking like she was supposed to be doing the moves, and whenever she couldn’t keep up she’d just stop and, no bullshit, “make the booty go ‘clap'” until she caught back up. I’m not kidding.
I, on the other hand, looked incredibly awkward, my lanky body completely at odds with the movements it was supposed to be making. I’d swirl my hips (HA) around and be completely off beat, looking like I was trying to dry hump an invisible leg. I’d do the pony dance and look like something off of the SNL Cheerleaders. Will Farrell, though, not the chick. I’d do the hip-shaky dance in a circle and look like an overenthusiastic step aerobics teacher who’s had too much caffeine and too little brain matter to really participate in life as we know it. I have never, ever, ever looked so stupid, and I include the time that I got so drunk that I tackled Katie, football-style, on a dance floor on her 21st birthday and told her it was “Broncos season” in the middle of May.
Somehow, having the extra body fat, having the hips to create a waist, having that shelf-like booty that we disparage in Caucasian culture looks way, way, way better dancing than my pasty blonde ass. The bright side? I did not feel fat. The downside? This seemed to be a liability at the time. The worst part? The classroom is flanked by a glass wall that has treadmills on the other side, with people watching the class. Awesome. I shall forevermore be known as Epileptic Barbie by the gym people. The ones I see every day.
Also, my spin instructor saw me seizing and waved. So now she knows I was playing hookie, and that I’m rhythmically impaired. Are you sure we can’t have an elaborate high-five sequence instead of a first dance at our wedding reception? And maybe Hovarounds to wheel me up the aisle at the ceremony? Because I’m now not at all sure that I will be able to keep step with ‘Here comes the bride.'”
So now that you know what yesterday morning encompassed, I can share with you my “solution.” I decided to get in touch with my Latin flava. I may not be able to dance, sing, play an instrument, or, let’s be honest, WALK with any skill or grace, but I can make food.
I decided to roll out beef tamales with pork and chorizo green chili. Yeah, yeah, I know. Beef and pork at the same time. Whatever, I do what I want.
Tamales are a giant pain in the butt to make. That’s why all the Mexican women get together for holidays and collaborate to make them, setting up efficient assembly lines and making hundreds of the little buggers in a two-day period. I had an afternoon.
I made the masa without lard or shortening, using beef broth and a touch of olive oil and egg whites instead. I can tell you that it didn’t make a HUGE textural difference, and it at least halved the caloric content of the tamales. I threw a hunk of beef roast in the crock pot with a can of adobo chiles and their sauce, added a cup of water, and let it ride until it was shred-y. I soaked my corn husks in warm water and weeded out the small, weak ones. Thus, I had my own one person assembly line.
——Side note: Am I the only one who is completely incapable of keeping their ring shiny? When I got it, it was a beautiful, sparkling, flawless diamond set in platinum, surrounded by other brilliant diamonds. It is now, as best I can tell, a history of the foods I’ve made in a given week. Like the rings on a tree, you can chip through each layer of frosting and dough to get information about my life. I clean it pretty frequently, but my guess is I’ll have to buy a steam cleaner, because the poor little fella just wants to SHINE, but keeps taking culinary beatings.————
Back to the matter at hand.
After piling them all in the steamer basket, I set them over simmering water on the stove to steam for approximately 7 years. Twice during this time period (TWICE) I managed to boil the steamer pot dry. This happens almost every time I make tamales. I don’t know why I haven’t figured out that I need to keep adding water yet. I am kind of a twit. I imagine it takes so long to steam because I have a smallish steamer pot and overload it so I can cook them all at once. I should probably register for a larger one, but my registry is already disgustingly full of only kitchen stuff, despite having had a Kitchenaid and Cuisinart since I was 19. I am marrying a very patient and understanding man. One who is now responsible for making sure we always have a kitchen that is larger than your average apartment, as I’ve now filled our Texas-sized kitchen and am bringing in more stuff. It’s starting to become less like a family area and more like my den of kitchen iniquity.
The pork/chorizo chili was made with the last of my Hatch chiles from this year, meaning I have to go hold a sign on one of the street corners here saying “Will work for fire-roasted Hatch chiles.” I have never run out so quickly before, and football season is just starting. Central Market wouldn’t sell me a bushel at a time, so I blame this partially on them. Selfish, I call it.
I also made some tortillas from uncooked tortilla disks I had in my fridge, then put tamales, cheese, tortillas and chili on a plate. I call it the Kristie combo. Who knew a ‘wege could come up with such good Mexican food, right?
Sadly, when trying to demonstrate the dance moves to Chris later, despite having immersed myself in Latin culture, I still failed to the point where he was holding on to the dog for support and gasping for air.