This is a picture of my friend Goya. She lived on the ranch I grew up on, about a quarter mile from my house. I mentioned her in a post a few weeks ago . . . she was the woman that scooped me up trying to save me when the butane truck was about to explode. She was a real sweet lady, and we loved her dearly. Now, before you send me ugly email about why she had to live in such a run down house, understand the house we lived in was not much better.
I am convinced that Goya just might have been the greatest cook that ever lived. Her tiny little house had a tiny little kitchen . . . just room for a little two burner propane stove and a sink. That little kitchen turned out food worthy of the world's best restaurants. She did the best she could to grow most of her food. She had a garden, chickens, and always was raising a pig, feeding it the scraps left over from her table. She could turn these things she grew into the most wonderful food you ever tasted. I would wander by her house just about every day, and she would be making flour tortillas. She would always give me one right off the griddle. I have never had any bread that tasted that good. After eating those, I was never able to eat store bought ones, which taste like cardboard, after eating hers. Her most famous dish though was her Tamales. They were something like you have never had in your life (I made a WEB site about her Tamale Recipe, if you want to give it a try yourself some time. You will be happy if you do).
Goya always had chickens, and we had chickens sometimes. One day my dad wanted to try something different, so he decided to get some peacocks. Now you can not just go out and buy peacocks, but he was able to get peacock eggs. Well, we did not have an incubator or anything like that, so we were going to have to hatch them the old fashioned way, under a chicken. Someone told my dad that you could not hatch them under a normal chicken, because chickens can in fact count, and know that it takes 21 days to hatch a chicken egg. After sitting on eggs 21 days normal chickens will give up, and get on with their life. Peacock eggs take about 29 days to hatch. What they told him was that there was one type of chicken, a bannie, that will not give up, and will keep sitting on eggs, and that if he would get some bannies, they would hatch his peacock eggs. So he gets him some bannies. They are funny little chickens. They are like miniature chickens about half the size of a normal chicken. The funny thing was that the peacock eggs are huge, and the bannies are tiny, so he only set one egg under each bannie. Well, he got things set up out in the chicken house, and the bannies went to work sitting on the peacock eggs. Sure enough, day 21 comes and goes and the bannies dont give up. They stick with it, and on day 29 the peacocks hatch. The peacocks grew fast, and after about a week the peacocks were about twice as big as the bannies. The peacocks thought the bannies were there mamas, and the bannies thought the peacocks were their babies. It was funny to watch those little bannies strut around the barnyard with those huge gangly peacock babies following behind them. Those little bannies were sure proud of their huge babies, and they were gaining social status among the other chickens with each day that passed.
Well the peacocks grew up pretty fast and became interesting pets. Early in the morning, you could look out the window and see the peacocks strutting around. The male birds would fan their enormous feathers out creating an incredible display of colors. They also made this incredibly loud calling noise as they pranced around. I found it charming. Goya found it annoying. They would make these displays early in the morning, and the noise annoyed Goya, who would have prefered to have a little extra sleep in the morning, and did not appreciate this 5 AM wake up call each morning. This was really only the first area of tension between Goya and the peacocks. The peacocks are free ranging birds. They stay close to home, but wander around a lot. They developed the habit of getting up on her porch, and taking care of their business. Big birds leave a big mess behind, and Goya did not like finding all the peacock poop on her porch. They would also fly up and get on her roof, making a big noise as they ran across her tin roof, and leaving a big mess on her roof as well. Things continue to go down hill, and they start getting in her garden, and scratching around, and making a mess of that. Well, she starts complaining to my dad, but there was not much he could do, since peacocks sort of go where they want, and there was not much way to teach them to leave Goya alone.
So, there was a little bit of tension developing between us, Goya, and the peacocks.
Then, I remember this one day that Goya brought us a batch of her famous tamales. I can remember eating those tamales for supper, and we all commented that those were the best Tamales she had ever made. The meat was leaner than usual, and more firm. We all commented that they were the best Tamales we had ever had.
It is funny, I remember two things about that day. The first is, I had the best Tamales I had ever eaten. The second thing is that that was the day all of our peacocks mysteriousely disappeared, never to be seen again . . .