Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In The Beginning There Was Mom...

Mom aka Doña Fina
Approaching 90

You might say that I've been "Moonstruck" by Mom's tenacity and will to live.  She continues to battle a terminal illness called "old age".  To her disbelief, she is approaching 90 in a few months; thanks in part to the incredible doting care my father gives her.

She Still Reigns
Mother is the reigning matriarch of the Rios clan.  She is the queen and very much in control of her home domain.  The kitchen and all the knick knacks she's acquired are all part of her legacy.  She loves to cook and what she can no longer do, she delegates and instructs my sister Lydia to do.

Her Majesty and Loyal Subjects
Before we arrived, my mother and father prepared the turkey in her traditional way.  A three day labor of love and torture for the already slain turkey.  Mother prepared her ingredients of salt, pepper, pimentos, olives, vinegar, and garlic; Dad inflicted more wounds and slits to the turkey.  Thawed and marinated the turkey was ready for a very slow lengthy roast at @ 250 degrees.  The meat simply fell off the bones.

The turkey was only the last step.  Prior to that, she directed and instructed my oldest sister and my father on how to make the pasteles (a Puerto Rican tamale, made of green bananas and stuffed with beef, potato, olives and other goodies all wrapped in either banana leaves or special paper).  Lydia and Dad made over 100 of these.  Each were earmarked for special friends and family.  From her wheel chair, my mother directed the action providing her instructions along the way.

When its my mothers turn to enjoy her final repose, I think I will put some measuring spoons and spices in her casket.  I want her to be happy and most of all I want her to know that I understand all the love that came out of her kitchen.  All in all the lady has done pretty good for someone who once burned oatmeal and didn't know how to cook.


  1. Oh that sounds so tasty! What a gal she is and how lucky you are to be able to spend a little time with her and your dad.

    Do you have a written recipe for those tamales?
    Two of us New England Gringas made tamales here last year at Christmas and are hoping to again.

    Glad that you're doing OK too. You have a few years of catching up to do til 90!

  2. I sure don't have the recipe. My mother will take with her to her

  3. Great words and photos Al. Precious.


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