Musings of an Englishman who literally quit his life in Devon in mid-2012 to move to Tijuana to love a girl.
They ended up in San Diego where he became a TV anchorman (yes really...), they got married, and now they're living in England together.
Simple as that really.
Follow your heart, who knows where it will lead.

Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Festive food fit for a (paper-crowned) king

STUFFING 12 grapes into your mouth and eating them for every second the clock chimes at midnight on New Year’s Eve is no easy task.
If you manage it, you get to make a wish.
And - as proven - you also get to look like a complete weirdo with grape skin, juice and seeds all over yourself.

And so it begins...

Two down, 10 to go...
"Am I the only one taking this seriously...?!"

It's a Spanish/Mexican tradition.
However the jury’s still out as to whether it’s 12 grapes for the 12 seconds, or indeed 12 grapes in a minute. I’m guessing I might have been stitched up by my Mexican friends.
Jacks likes to think it’s 12 grapes in a minute, and 12 wishes as a result.
I’m not sure.
Nonetheless, it was a laugh. And in the past 12 months I’ve had my fair share of wishes granted already.
New Year’s Eve marked the end of a truly special – and very different – festive period for me living away from England.
To visit home with Jacky on my arm was the best gift I could have asked for. Of course, her saying ‘yes’ to my question made it all magical.
I have to say that spending six months in Mexico before heading back to England made for a surreal experience.
All of a sudden we were thrown into the crazy hectic nature of British high street Christmas shopping.
It’s only when you spend so much time away that you realize how materialistic life is in the UK.
Christmas, it seems for many, isn’t the same without a sack load of presents.
Here in Mexico the ‘gift’ is the chance to spend quality time with your family and friends.
And I think I was really lucky to experience that. It was almost like a re-awakening.
It was just a shame that we had to leave my family before Christmas to return to Tijuana.
We had the traditional English roast dinner with my folks before we left (see previous blog post), and then we came back to Mexico to experience a VERY different festive period.
The main focus of Christmas here is on Christmas Eve evening.
Traditionally you have a big family meal, which we did, with an amazing dish called ‘rolle de carne’ (basically ‘pork roll’).
Without getting all Jamie Oliver on you the dish consists of cutting up the meat into sheets; smothering the sheets in mustard; seasoning with salt and pepper; adding a home-made sauce consisting of garlic, oregano and peppers; adding grated cheese; layers of ham sheets; chili (of course!); mushrooms; and dried fruit.

Meat sheets

Season to taste


Chili?! Well, of course...

You then roll the meat...

You gotta roll with it
... tie it with string, add more mustard over the top, and place it in the oven.

Highly strung food

An hour or so later and you’ve got a simply divine dish fit for a king (wearing paper crowns of course).

Ta da!

One of the funniest moments during the main meal had to be when we presented Jacky’s mum and dad with a Christmas cracker, which we brought over from England.

It's a cracker!

They’d never seen one before, so they were completely unaware of the loud crack sound when a cracker is pulled.
The look on their faces was priceless.
And while – at first – the family members were hesitant about wearing a paper crown, soon enough everyone was lining up ready to be photographed wearing one as it was so completely unusual and strange to them.

All hail the king and queen of our Mexican Christmas

Everything on Christmas Eve in Mexico leads up to midnight when you have a traditional ‘Happy Christmas’ toast, and then exchange gifts.
Christmas Day is much like our Boxing Day in that it’s much more relaxed than the main event.
And people then generally go back to work on Boxing Day and the days after – Jacky included – which seemed strange and a tad harsh.
Bizarrely December 28th is also the equivalent of our April Fool’s Day. There I was congratulating people on Facebook about the news they were ‘expecting’ – only to be told that it wasn’t the case and it was simply a joke.
Thankfully I wasn’t the only one to ‘like’ the status updates.
In general New Year’s Eve is a half-day for workers with New Year’s Day being a bank holiday.
Jacks and I ended up going to a bar for drinks (and the grapes!) with friends, to watch some other friends performing.
As we were driving to the bar Jacky said to me: “The sad thing about New Year’s Eve is that those people who have guns here go outside at midnight and fire them into the sky.
“Lots of people get injured or killed every year…”
Well, that’s a tad different to the fireworks and sparklers that I’m used to.
I’m thankful we didn’t attend a street party.
New Year’s Day saw Jacky’s mum make the second-most amazing dish called ‘pozole’.
It’s basically a meat stew, but of course with lashings of chili.

Picture perfect

I fear my English gut will never recover.
So anyway there I was thinking that all the festivities are over… but wait… in a few days’ time, rubs hands with eager anticipation, comes January 6th.
Yes! January 6th… the day of… um… Jacks…?!
Yes, the ‘Day of the Kings’. It’s like our (British) Christmas Day with more presents. Why? Not sure… but who cares! It’s a Sunday – why not give gifts?!
I could get used to this.
So yes, it’s all been a bit different and refreshing.
I have one or two wishes for 2013 – most notably getting a work visa for the US to allow me to take an AMAZING job in San Diego.
We’ve been toing and froing for months and months now and I truly hope if I knock on the door long enough, US Immigration will let me in.
For now though I’ll continue tip-tapping away on this keyboard sharing aspects of this crazy new life I’m leading.
Hopefully it will inspire a few of you to take up some adventures of your own.
Life is for living after all.
Crazy. Beautiful. Madness.

Happy New Year everyone! x

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