“What town?” I was asking a friend for his address. He had moved to California and I was about to visit.
“Camarillo,” he said, but very oddly. Holding a map of Ventura Country, I saw that the city was spelled with two letter “l”s so I repeated the city name but using a long “l” sound, just the way it was spelled.
“No,” he said. “Camarillo is pronounced like the two “l”s are a “y.”
I practiced the sound, traveled to California, stopped at a gas station and asked for direction to Camarillo. But thanks to habit, I pronounced the “l”s. The service station attendant, with dazzling black hair and skin the color of deep pecans, corrected me. The two “l”s were a “y.” I was stranger in this land that belonged to his culture, not mine.
I loved that odd sound and only later discovered the reason. The Spanish alphabet used to have additional characters, beyond the 26 we have in English. One of those “characters” was spelled with two English “l” characters: ll. But it always had a “j” or “y” sound. There’s an ongoing battle within the Spanish speaking community whether it is “j” or “y.” But it ain’t “ll” as in English.
Why the change? Why was the letter “ll” officially dropped? Thank English, the internet, and keyboards. It was just not quite popular enough, not economically powerful enough for Microsoft to incorporate into Word, not easy to make keyboards with an extra key labeled “ll” … There were lots of reasons, but we now have a major language with an oxymoron: it uses a letter that is not officially a letter any more.
But we need “ll.” People still live in beautiful Camarillo, California. And we still eat tomatillos. One of my favorite fruits, the source of that deep sour pitch to salsa verde, a powerful ingredient when cooked and added over chicken or in quesadillas or … It’s wonderful to eat in a thousand different ways.
And, now, you can drink it.
Yes, you can drink a tomatillo. And it’s not a gimmick. It’s a good drink. One that lasts long in the glass, that you can sip for an hour and enjoy how the flavor changes as the ice melts, the mixture warms, and beer and tequila shift in impact.
Yes, again. Here’s a tomatillo based beverage made with both beer and tequila. And you rim the glass with a spice mix based on cayenne pepper.
At first sip, after your lips stop burning, you are going to say, “This is bleeping strange.” But you keep sipping, you adjust to the spices, and over time that unique tomatillo flavor comes more forward and attaches to the beer and tequila. After a while, you are going to say, “This is bleeping lovely.” Fortunately, in “lovely” the two “l”s are not next to each other so you enjoy the “l” sound. If you want the Spanish “ll” sound, just mention the key ingredient: tomatillo.
My friend in Camarillo moved long ago. The two lane highway originally there is now six. The rows of eucalyptus trees, two hundred years old, that lined the original highway are gone. But the air is still California fresh and sometimes I will stop for a beer or a tequila or even a tomatillo. That’s with a “y.”
I found this lovely drink recipe while surfing the web. If you love to drink, you need to visit imbibe.com
Yield: 1 cocktail
- 1 ½ ounces anejo tequila
- ½ ounce fresh lime juice
- ¼ ounce agave syrup
- Dash spice mix [recipe below]
- 1 small heirloom tomato, diced
- 1 small tomatillo, diced
- 2 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 2 ounces light Mexican lager [Yes, I used Corona Light instead]
- Ice cubes
Muddle the tomato, tomatillo and cilantro in a cocktail shaker. Add the remaining ingredients, except the beer, and shake with ice. Double strain in a chilled cocktail glass and top with the beer. Garnish with cilantro.
Optionally, first rim the glass with lime juice then dip it into the spice mix [recipe below]. Warning: this is hot. Just be careful or your lips will burn.
- 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons celery seed
- ½ teaspoon habanero powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
Place all the ingredients in a small bowl and slow whisk to mix. This mixture is devilishly hot. So, do NOT wet your finger, dip it in and taste test. You’ll be screaming and running for a beer if you do.
Source: Imbibe.com which credits Tilth Restaurant in Seattle [please visit titlerestaurant.com to learn more about this exciting New American restaurant]
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, EFS 18-55MM Macro lens, shot at F/2.8 for 1/80th second at ISO 2500.
“Uh, not next week,” I said to Suzen. “Thanksgiving cannot be next week.”
“It is,” Suzen insisted.
“But, but, the Christmas decorations have only been up for six weeks,” I said. “This is screwed up.”
“Very,” Suzen agreed.
On this blog we have always treated Thanksgiving as very, very special. We have posted some great ideas and, while we normally don’t repeat items, for this holiday Suzen and I want to blast out some old but wonderful ideas for you over the next few days. A week from today, it will be the day after Thanksgiving. You will be tired. Relaxing. Hopefully have the day off. And you will be hungry. Thursday night you will have sworn off food for life. By Friday night, that resolution will have you sticking your head inside your refrigerator. You have some leftover turkey? Now you have this spectacular recipe.
I posted this recipe in early 2010, at my daughter’s request, but I’m doing it again because this is just the best possible way to enjoy leftover turkey. It’s not “leftovers.” It’s “delicious” and rich and different. This recipe stands on its own.
The enchiladas are paired with one of my favorite foods: tomatillos. This green fruit is a staple of Mexican cuisine. Although in the same botanical family as the tomato, a tomatillo is definitely not a tomato. If you’ve had green salsa with a bite, you’ve enjoyed the particular intensity that only a tomatillo can supply. In this recipe that inherent tomatillo sting is muted into a voluptuous cream sauce that is an outstanding match for that distinctive turkey flavor. Your mouth is simply going to resonate with a symphony of tones.
When I make this dish, I do follow the recipe but I am heavy handed with the amount of green onion and green chiles. And I suggest sticking with the canned tomatillos, not the salsa verde.
You can garnish the whole dish with cilantro or sliced scallions for one more level of flavor.
Turkey Enchiladas with Creamy tomatillo Sauce
2 cups shredded roast turkey
2 green onions, including tender green tops, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons cream cheese at room temperature
1 ⅓cups (5 ½ ounces) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
2 cans (7 ounces each) salsa verde or 1 can (13 ounces) tomatillos, drained
2 tablespoons canned chopped green chiles, drained
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
⅔ cup heavy (whipping) cream
¼ cup canola oil
8 corn tortillas
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey, green onions, cream cheese, and 1 cup of the jack cheese and stir to mix thoroughly. Set aside.
In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillo, chiles, cilantro, and cream and process until smooth.
Heat the oil in a heavy, 6 -inch skillet over medium-high heat. Using tongs, carefully place one tortilla at a time in the hot oil and fry for 5 to 10 seconds just until softened. Flip the tortilla and soften the other side. Drain over the skillet, and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Place another paper towel on top and press to absorb the oil. Repeat until all 8 tortillas are softened and drained.
Divide the turkey mixture among the tortillas (about ½cup each), mounding it in a line down the center. Roll tightly and then place, seam side down, in a 7 x 11″ baking pan. Pour the tomatillo cream sauce over the enchiladas, and sprinkle the remaining ⅓cup jack cheese down the center. Bake for about 20 minutes until heated through and bubbly. Serve immediately.
Source: The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan