Twenty years ago, literally half a lifetime ago (as I quickly race towards 40 next month) I was lucky enough to call Andalucía home for a short while. Though only there for five months, living in Granada as a student, it was a pivotal time in my life. As most students are keen to do, I spent much of my time in search of free entertainment; walking the perimeter of the Alhambra, listening to live music at a tiny bar called La Guayana; one of the only bars in the area without a cover charge or dress code, wandering through the Albaicín (old Arab neighbourhoods) going in and out of tea shops, or up in the caves of Sacromonte, where I took flamenco lessons. Given the gorgeous weather and the then botellón culture, where young and old gathered in the streets in the evenings to drink and socialise (it has since been made illegal in Andalucía) I was drawn to the communal, unhurried, stop-to-chat pace of the culture.
This same ‘value of a good chat’ pace of life struck me as prevalent in New Mexican culture too, when I moved to Albuquerque two years later. Perhaps it was the oppressive summertime heat that forced the community to move at a slower pace, the ancient cultures in the area who had relied on community living for thousands of years to insure their own survival, or perhaps some of the Spanish influence itself. Whatever the reason, aside from interesting and invaluable conversations, I took note of another value that came out of these two places in the world: an abundance and value of ever-present arts within the community. No matter where I turned, there was always a painter, a dancer, a writer, a poet, a singer or musician present amongst the group. Professional or amature, it didn’t matter. Art or at the very least collaboration, seems to be the tangible result of people actively making time for one another. This is something I am craving more of now right now – to break up the monotony of this forcibly slowed life, to soak up those around me and the community aspects that I crave, but still feel are at arms reach. I am hoping to engage in more of aimless wandering and conversations-by-chance over this summer, even if most of them take place just steps away from our own front door.
It wasn’t until making this dish that it dawned on me I was combining the flavours of my two very favourite places in the whole world. Doing so has encouraged me to consider what it was about each of them that I loved so much, that felt so much like home, and how to adjust my own living to include more of those aspects into daily life. So, if you see me out and about this summer (or even via social media, email or other virtual connection points), I hope you’ll join me for an intentionally unhurried conversation, a collaboration of thoughts. And hopefully, one day, maybe some soup.
*With the collaborative spirit in mind, thank you to The Hatch Chile Store for providing me with the most delicious roasted Hatch chiles for this recipe. After spending years pining away for that heat-meets-citrus flavour I loved so much, I’m so grateful to have found a company that can ship a little taste of home to me wherever I may travel to next. This post is not sponsored, but it has been a collaborative effort and I want to acknowledge that; one which has brought me back to some of my favourite places with some of my favourite people in the world.*