Only in New Mexico....
For 84 years the nuns at St Francis Xavier Church on Broadway in Albuquerque have been having a fall potluck to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. The homemade posole, menudo, tamales and bizcochitos - all local specialties, have been feeding over 500 parishioners without a hitch. The mayor has even shown up to have a plate as well as police officers and the public in general.
But not this year if the POT-LUCK POLICE have their say!!!
Apparently there is a city potluck ordinance [I kid you NOT] that reads you cannot have a potluck with food made from home if you are serving over 500 people!!
Two weeks ago, city health officials told church leaders that food-handling laws prohibited parishioners from taking home-cooked food to church to serve an expected 500 people for the Dec. 14 feast.
Church leaders quickly hatched a Plan B that involved using canned posole and store-bought desserts and giving up the menudo. City law requires that food intended for distribution to the public be prepared in an "approved kitchen," such as the church kitchen, rather than in private homes.
For his part, Mayor Martin Chávez called the rigid interpretation of the city's food ordinance "plain silly" and has ordered up a steaming bowl of revisions to city law — changes that will allow churches and other groups to serve homemade dishes without violating city food-handling laws.
Oh, did I mention 2010 is an election year and that Mayor Chavez is considering running for governor??
"Taken to its logical conclusion, this law would prohibit potlucks where members of the public might attend," Chávez said Wednesday through a spokeswoman. "I'm confident this is not the intent of the ordinance." For now, the city will draft an "interim rule" that will allow the St. Francis Xavier event to go forward as it has for decades, said Ed Adams, chief administrative officer.
Even if the city hadn't quickly canned the ban on homemade posole, there were offerings from commercial kitchens and restaurants to help worshippers get the real stuff. Sister Bernice Garcia, parish life coordinator at St. Francis, said she and church parishioners are relieved by the city's change of course. "We can cook at home," Garcia said Wednesday. "We can bake our cookies and make our bread pudding and bring it to church. And make menudo."
...and all is well in the Land of Enchantment.
For those of you not from New Mexico, posole is a delicious spicy corn stew. Christmas isn't Christmas in the southwest without it.
At holiday time people throughout the world honor traditions, and New Mexico is no exception. One tradition many here look forward to on Christmas Eve is a steaming bowl of posole (po-SO-lay), a spicy corn stew that is known as the ceremonial dish for celebrating life's blessings.
New Mexicans have been enjoying posole for centuries. The cuisine here springs from three cultures: Native American, Mexican, and European. The Rio Grande Pueblo Indians, and their ancestors, the “Anasazi,” or "ancient ones,” relied on corn, beans, squash, and chiles for sustenance. These early crops became firmly entrenched in the culture, forming the foundation of New Mexican cuisine even before the Spanish arrived.
Corn has been and is the major food plant of the Native Americans. Red, yellow, and blue corn are cultivated in New Mexico. The corn is ground into meal and flour for use in breads and tortillas, and it is processed into posole corn.
Posole corn is prepared by soaking hard kernels of field corn (traditionally white, although blue is sometimes used now) in powdered lime and water - a method thought to mimic the ancient preservation of corn in limestone caves. After several hours, when the corn kernels have swollen, the liquid is allowed to evaporate and the kernels to dry.
Posole is different from hominy, another kind of processed corn, which tends to be softer and more bland. Compared to hominy, posole’s flavor is intense and earthy, its consistency more robust. Since posole corn can be difficult to find, hominy is often used as a substitute in posole stew.
The variations for posole are many. Some make it with chicken rather than pork; some prefer to use vegetable protein rather than meat. While posole in Southern New Mexico is always made with red chile, it is not uncommon to find Northern New Mexico posole made with green chile.
Ingredients for Posole
12 dried long red chile
10 lbs. Boned pork roast cut into 1" cubes
1/2 head of garlic peeled and chopped
A large pinch of Mexican oregano
1/2 of a large onion, chopped
Large can hominy
Break open the chiles and remove the seeds and veins. Put the chiles to cook in a medium sized pot. Cover with fresh water and gently boil until chiles are very soft. Let the mixture cool and using a favorite method, blend the chile and the water to make a paste and strain.
Meanwhile, put the cubed pork, oregano, garlic, onion and salt into a large heavy pot and cover with water. Boil meat gently for 30 minutes. When the meat is soft, add the chile and hominy and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the mixture is boiling nicely.
To serve, ladle the posole into heavy bowls and serve with thinly sliced cabbage and radishes, quartered limes, oregano, chopped onion, and fresh corn tortillas. Besides these side dishes, posole is usually served with sodas or cervesas.