This is the place for photos and reflections of my visits to Latin America beginning in 2012. Previous blogs are linked on the main pages of my photo collections on flickr. HAPPY TRAILS!

Friday, November 7, 2014


Hi, all!

Such a wonderful way to pass an afternoon - another cooking lesson with Mynor's wife Josefa and their niece Josefa. There are lots of Josefas in this family group, named after a beloved grandmother. 

This time I learned to make paches (pronounced 'paw chays'), tamales made with potatoes instead of corn. This is a long post; I hope those of you with limited interest will feel free to simply delete or to scan through quickly. The detail is there for those with specific interest in traditional cooking and especially to reinforce my memory - I plan to try this again.

The sauce ingredients were tomatoes

and a mixture of shredded bread, seeds, and spices. 

These included ajonjolí (looked like toasted sesame seeds), canela (cinnamon, looks like bark),

pepitoria (squash seeds),

pepper corns, and clove.

The dry ingredients were added to the tomatoes in the blender.

The seeds were removed from 2 kinds of dried sweet peppers and the skins were added to the mix.

Acheote was added for color before blending.

The blended sauce was poured into a pot where salt and sunflower oil were added and it was boiled and stirred for 10-15 minutes. 

Boiled potatoes were mashed with a little sunflower oil and stock from a chicken that had been boiled earlier.

Ties were prepared from strips of corn husk; to make them longer, a medium strip was knotted at 1 end, then separated from the bottom to the knot to create a strip that was twice as long.

We used mashan leaves; plantain (sort of like banana) leaves can also be used but impart a different flavor. Smallish leaves were left whole; large ones were separated along the veins and stems and the leftovers saved to provide a double layer under the filling.

Ready for wrapping!

Potatoes 1st,

then chicken,

then sauce.

We stirred a little but not much before balancing the mix on the leaves, rolling the edges down snug, folding in each end, and tying.

My finest creation. 

When we had a big stack and the potatoes were gone,

the bottom of the pot was lined with stems and leftover leaf scraps and the paches were layered in and covered with the remaining leaves.

The bottom half of the pot was filled with water and the fire was carefully tended during the 1 and a half hour cooking time.

Josefa checks the color of the leaves to be sure enough time has elapsed.

Time to eat!

I wish you could smell this picture! The sauce was fabulous and the leaves imparted a unique smell and flavor that reminded us of artichokes. ¡Buen provecho!

Happy trails!

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