Thank you, I’m honored…

I’ve been living here in Boquerón for nine months now. Everyone knows the old gringo and they’re all friendly. Walking up to the bus stop everyone says “hello” in English, and one man always says, “hello, mister.” Carlos and Fulvia’s little girl says “Hi” since I told her that’s how friends greet each other back in the States instead of the more formal “hello.” But one never really knows how you’re accepted into the community until something like what happened yesterday occurs.

Half way up the street towards the main road is the house of Lleya (Jaya) and her husband. They are the local dealers in the barrio for the gas everyone uses for cooking, though you’d be surprised at how much cooking is done outside over a wood fire. Lleya and her husband, Carlos, always have a smile and a wave for me as I pass by their house and she is always telling me to “drop in anytime.” In Spanish, of course.

Yesterday was Lleya’s 63 birthday and she was having a party around noon time. I’d been invited a couple of weeks ago. In the morning I made a cherry-blueberry dump cobbler* to take with me. What surprised me when I arrived was that except for her eight children and their wives, husbands, their children and Lleya’s lifetime friend, Alicia, I was the only one there outside of her family. She loaded me down with a plate of food I couldn’t have gotten through in two days, free-range chicken, rice (of course), salad and half an avocado.

My cobbler was actually a big hit. It was served along with the birthday cake and ice cream and I know that nearly everyone had a second helping of it and I saw two young boys hit the pan for thirds.

I have to admit that I spent most of my time talking to Alicia. She had been married to a gringo and lived in the States for many years. When we discovered that we’d both lived in New Orleans for many years the conversation was filled with references to Cajun cuisine and music. One of Lleya’s daughters speaks English quite well, but for the greatest part of the afternoon I tried my best to follow the Spanish conversations and I received compliments on how well I spoke the language though I think it was mostly flattery.

I definitely enjoyed the afternoon and feel honored to have been invited and accepted into the group.

* Cherry/Blueberry Dump Cobbler

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 can each of Mussleman’s cherry and blueberry pie filling (which is more than the 32 oz of pie filling called for in the original recipe)
1/2 cup butter

Heat oven to 350 F. Melt butter in a 13 x 9-inch pan. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, milk, and sugar in mixing bowl. Pour into pan. Add the cherry pie filling to the batter in the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Batter will form crust on top of cobbler.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Thank you, I’m honored…

  1. Andres Espino Dennison

    Mmmmmmm… I gotta try it! I have been making a similar one aboard my boat for a long time using the canned sliced peaches and I add a bit more sugar and cornstarch to make it thicken. Canned peaches, pears, fruit cocktail and applesauce are the main canned fruit I usually have aboard. I also carry a lot of dried fruit,, raisins, plums, apricots and cherries.

    Easy as pie…or should I say “cobbler.” The thing with using the pie filling is that it’s already thickened. The combination of cherries and blueberries are a taste treat as far as I’m concerned. But buying them down here in Panama isn’t cheap. The can of the blueberry filling is well over four bucks and the cherry filling is almost as much. But it’s worth it for special occasions.