The Tovsky Tribe

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Thursday, November 19, 2009


One of my favorite smells in the world is onion, thinly chopped, and garlic, finely minced, sauteeing in olive oil over low fire.   To me, it is mouth watering!  Coffee and baked goods may also stop me in my step, but that onion and garlic sautee can not be matched. The smell alone can make a moment one to savor.
Todd and I just had an experience that ranks, quite possibly, as the best of my entire life. Our wedding, the birth of our children, and the collective weeks of my European travel also top the list.
In an effort to learn Mayan culture we prepared, cooked, and enjoyed a fantastic lunch.   Known as "Casita Maya" and described as "an ancient outdoor Mayan kitchen built from tree branches and a palapa roof, available for private dining and cooking classes for two to eight guests. Guests learn indigenous methods of cooking meat and seafood, simmering in banana leaves below ground. ".
We share a mutual love for cooking, for culture, and for eating good food, making Casita Maya the experience of a lifetime.
We walked the jungled path and headed to the secluded "readers" corner where we were greeted by Fernando and Jesus and a full explanation in what, and how, we would be participating. Of course, this five minute lecture was accompanied by a wonderfully refreshing watermelon juice and two mouthwatering tostado appetizers topped with a decadent shrimp and a juicy and flavorful chicken.
We then entered a foodies haven.


Waiting for us was the colorful array of fresh vegetables, an assortment of containered ingredients, samurai sharp knives, and a hole of burning charcoal. After a brief description of the meal we would soon enjoy, we were asked to chop the vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, onions, and tomatillos) into circles. Deploying the skills we had learned at the knife skills course we took back in 2000, we sliced the reds, the yellows, the greens, and the purples.   We tasted the fresh, juicy tomato and the sweeter than expected tomatillos.

We laid half of the beautiful mixture into a banana leaf lined clay pot then topped it with salt and peppered filets of red snapper before ladeling a fragrant, opaque, natural red marinade upon it. The other half of the vegetables were then placed on top of the deep red sauce.  More banana leaves were placed on top before the pot was transported into the smoky hole.  We watched, intrigued, as the sticks, leaves, board, and dirt were piled trapping all of the smoke in with the goodness.

While we waited, we made the soup that I wish I could still taste on my tongue. We began by sauteeing the onions and at the sound of the sizzle, that wonderful sizzle, my sense of smell was enjoying the same luxury the rest of my body had been thus far.  Then followed the garlic...ah, perfection. Next the tomatoes, then the lima juice, then the clarified chicken broth. All of this was brought to a slow boil, but the enjoyment of the essence was immediate.

We sat down at a private table just before the herb garden and just beyond the smoky casita and enjoyed the tastiest soup ever had. It was complemented by the Mexican Sauvignon Blanc we sipped between spoonfuls.

We then enjoyed our tasty, healthy, simple yet beautiful red snapper and vegetable concoction accompanied by Mexican rice. It was delicious.   It was healthy. It, in its simplicity, was fine dining. And yet, the experience outweighed the food due to its rarity, its culture, its purity.

Dessert followed, despite our full bellies and empty bottle of wine, and the beauty made you never want to touch it. Thin pineapple shavings towered into a flower petaled, alternately, with papaya and strawberry.  It was art!
Fernando was fantastic in his descriptions, his stories. Todd and I were educated and satiated and were left to wonder if another experience, ever, could compare to the all senses used experience we just had!

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