The other day Chef Louie was in the mood to make cocido – Mexican Beef Stew – or the Mexican version of chicken soup. A perfect fall meal. Lucky Jacqueline and me!
Louie bought vegetables – cabbage, carrots, corn, celery, squash, onions, and Yukon potatoes. But before adding them to the three packages of beef shanks he had bought earlier in the week, he cooked and tenderized the meat in a steamer for two hours seasoned with bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Then he went into his zone and happily started chopping all the veggies that he cooked in a separate pot of seasoned water. Finally, he added the tasty tender meat to the fragrant vegetable soup.
Throughout the afternoon, we kept sipping the broth until the taste was perfect. Then Louie pulled a small bone from the juicy soup, scooped out the slightly sweet and spongy marrow from the center of the bone and we indulged in a tasting. Bone marrow, a tissue, is nutritious because it’s rich with stem cells that become red blood cells and white blood cells tasked with the job of transporting oxygen throughout the body, strengthening immunity, and aiding with blood clotting. I will never forget when we spent a long weekend in California’s wine country with Louie’s aunt and uncle. As we enjoyed bone marrow appetizer spread on slices of a French baguette, Louie’s aunt chuckled and said, “Hey, Louie, remember how we used to eat bone marrow growing up because we couldn’t afford meat? Now it’s a delicacy.” The moral of this story? Comfort food always wins.
And I will forever remember the words of Louie’s chef father when the two would cook together at their family restaurant:
“Son, when you cook, you have to be happy…”
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