So….I’m Mexican. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming).
Don’t let the pale, sunburn-prone skin and curly, red hair fool you. I am definitely La Chicana. Maybe even a Chola. I don’t know. I haven’t fully explored my new-found ethnicity yet.
Let me explain: since my adult-companion-caretaker-for-life XFE has been out of town a lot lately (first on a cross-country golf trip with his dad, then on a work trip to Japan), I’ve had a bit of free time on my hands. It appears that when one is not being bossed around, and doing adult things like laundry, grocery shopping, and watering the yard, there is a lot of time left over.
(To address your questions: Laundry – I have lots of clothes and could probably go without doing laundry for about a month before things became, shall we say, pungent. Grocery shopping – that’s what take out and frozen foods are for. Watering the yard – why bother? The squirrels are eating all my damn tomatoes anyway)
So in my vast amounts of newly discovered “me” time, I’ve been discovering me; ie: snooping around into my family tree.
I have been slightly curious about this topic before; as would anyone with the last name Poe (for the record: Not related to the Great One, not even remotely). My mother also has a slightly unusual maiden name that always made me wonder, “Where the hell did that come from?”
But when one is raised in the rough-and-tumble wilds of trailer parks in West Texas, things like tracing one’s genealogy seem mighty frou-frou and uppity. Plus, I’m not exactly a very family-oriented person, in that, basically, I don’t really talk to mine very much.
Then I realized, I don’t live in a trailer park anymore and I’m quite frou-frou and uppity, and as an uppity frou-frou professional type person, I’m expected to know where my family originated.
Sidenote: You should see the horror on people’s faces when I exclaim loudly, “Where are my people from? They’re white trash from the trailer parks! Before that, we were probably dirt farmers! Where’s the race classification checkbox for that?” After an uncomfortable pause, I usually then launch into a tirade on how white trash people are underreported and disenfranchised in society. Don’t worry — I’ve started a movement for restitution. An unsuccessful and entirely unsympathetic movement, I might add.
Anyway, what I found was totally surprising. On my errant father’s side, his people go all the way back to tobacco farmers who arrived in Virginia in 1704. Before that the line is a bit sketchy and unclear, but as far as I (and the lovely hard workers on ancestry.com) can tell, they most likely came from a long line of Poes in and around Nottingham. As in England, y’all.
Then there’s my mother’s side. My grandfather’s people came over from Bergen, Norway in the 1800s. I was pretty blown away by that. I would have never in a million years guessed Norway. But there it was, my mother’s maiden name on a ship manifest in 1843. All historic and proof-like. Crazy.
But the real kicker was my maternal grandmother’s father. My great, great grandfather was Mexican. Which makes me, like, 1/16th Mexican. Or maybe it’s 1/32nd. I don’t know. Math is the devil’s work. At least, that’s what people from Norway believe.
In honor of my Mexican heritage, I made fideo this week. Fideo is sort of a Mexican noodle soup with tomatoes. Both my grandma and my mom used to make it. Con pollo, naturalmente. (That means with chicken for all you non-natives out there.) We also make it kinda thick, so it’s really like chicken spaghetti when it’s all said and done.
First, you pour a large goblet o’wine. Since Mexico isn’t known for it’s wine, I went a bit further south of the border and had a glass of Argentinian Malbec.
Then, you throw half an onion, some crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper in some water with a couple of ridiculously large chicken breasts and boil for about one-and-a-half episodes of a Real Housewives of Whatever. (You’re trying to cook the chicken through). Remove the chicken and let it cool. Keep the leftover broth to the side.
Have another glass of wine and watch another Real Housewives while waiting for the chicken to cool. Shred the chicken and set aside.
Heat up a small amount of vegetable oil. Chop up the other half of the onion, crush some more garlic and brown it all in the hot oil. Add the fideo noodles. Usually, I use those vermicelli nest ones, but fancy-schmancy Trader Joe’s didn’t have those, so I just used capellini and broke them into small pieces. Brown the pasta until it smells nice and nutty and homey.
Add a couple of cans of diced tomatoes, the shredded chicken, and the leftover chicken broth a ladle at a time. Add some cumin, come cayenne, more salt and pepper. The noodles will absorb the broth, so you’ll need a fair amount, but probably not the whole pots-worth. Just eyeball it. Heat on low until it looks yummy and smells so freaking good, you can’t stand it any more.
It’s easy and comforting and is one of the few dishes from my childhood that I actually crave and have good memories associated with (do NOT get me started on creamed corn).
Now I guess I have to figure out what they make in Norway. I have a feeling it might involve creamed corn or something equally gross.
Big ups to my aunt Delores for taking the time to do the maternal part of the family tree AND putting it on the internet so I could stumble upon it. Saved me shitloads of time. Time which I could then put towards making fideo.