Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Celebrate Barbecue Diversity, Part 1

This four-day weekend, I've gone to not one, not two, but three barbecues. All of them fit with the theme of celebrating the United States by stuffing your face, but there was nary a hamburger or potato chip in sight. The food selections better reflected the true flavor of this nation: a spicy, flavorful, exotic, toothsome mix of tastes from all over the world that come together to make something entirely unique, and even more delicious than each of its parts.

I spent the day at my sister's house on Sunday. I took the kids to see Garfield 2 (the second time for me. Joy.), then we grilled and played and ate and ate. The menu was Mexican, mostly because my sister and I feel the same way about margaritas -- if opportunities to drink them don't create themselves, you have to create opportunities! I was in charge of meat and fruit. So, on the way over, I stopped at the fruit cart near my apartment, where a small group of women was already ripping into their bags of fruit while finishing up their transaction. These carts are ubiquitous in LA, and one of my favorite healthy street-food snacks. The stand contains piles of peeled fruits on display behind glass, and the guy has a cutting board and a sharp knife. I chose mango, pineapple, and jicama (although cucumber and cantaloupe sound great for future visits), and four dollars and much hacking and chopping later, I had a big plastic bag of fruit, sprinkled generously with salt and chili powder, swimming in the freshly squeezed lime juice.

I stopped at a carnicerĂ­a near my apartment and picked up some marinated carne asada, which Ray kindly grilled along with corn on the cob.

On her end, Torreh made a fresh and really yummy three-bean (green, black canellini) salad, with sweet corn, bell peppers, and avocados, and lots of cumin in the dressing. She also made fresh guacamole (or 'broccomole', if you're 3), and limy, salty, icy, perfect margaritas.

We were stuffed, but after some time running around, swinging on the swing set, and playing 'baseball', we managed to squeeze in dessert -- mint ice cream (no chips! Yes!!) Drumsticks -- out on the grass. As Ray put it, there is something magical about kids and ice cream, especially in the summer. Yep, I think so.

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