A couple of weeks ago we bought some fresh corn from a local market. My husband intended on cooking something with it – either his great-grandmother’s cornbread, or corn grits, or something else. Honestly, I don’t remember what he was planning to cook; but as the week progressed and life ensued, the corn remained on the countertop, uncooked.
So, the other day I was looking at that corn and decided to make a snack that speaks to my Mexican roots – Elote cocido
Elote cocido (cooked corn) is a Mexican street snack often consumed during national celebrations. It is boiled corn covered in a creamy, cheesy, spicy mix, eaten on a stick.
As my decision to make this snack recurred in my mind, one particular memory flooded into my thoughts: I remembered the only time I ever skipped school – back in my eighth grade year.
I was never really a bad student throughout prep school – I didn’t make bad grades; never failed a course. I was social; well-liked by classmates and teachers; participated in extracurricular activities; I even had a music group (I played the quatro, a stringed instrument like the ukelele).
I was an above-average student that made average grades – up until my ninth grade year when my grades began showing marked improvements.
One day, my friend, Paty, and I decided to plan a day of deceit. We were going to play hooky.
But it had to be perfect.
So we took a week to plan and prepare.
“Why skip school?” you may be asking. I was a church girl who got along with everyone and always played nice … but I loved adventures and challenges, and this, I knew, would get my adrenaline pumping.
So after our week of preparation, the Friday came when we would make our escape into freedom. It was just a few weeks before finals, so the school year was winding down. The week of the science fair – so there were many faces missing from classrooms. It would be hard for administrators to know that why we were not in class.
We left our homes dressed in our school uniforms and met outside of the school. We boarded a bus, and headed to the traditional hang out spot when kids would skip school at that time, Chapultepec.
Chapultepec is in the middle of Mexico City, and hosts a forest, parks, a zoo, a castle sitting atop a hill, a lake, a museum – plenty of fun things for us to do while not in class. It’s sometimes referred to as the “lungs of the city,” due to its vast green areas.
When we arrived, we looked around and realized a lot of other school kids had the same idea as us. There were tons of kids, clad in uniforms from schools on every end of the city.
Mexico City is the largest city in the world, with 30 million people living there, so the likelihood that there would be other kids deciding to skip school on that day was pretty high.
It was a cool place to simply go hide away for a day.
We walked around excitedly. We sat and had a picnic, eating what was supposed to be our lunches for breakfast.
We went to the zoo for a couple hours, and spent hours simply walking around the park.
Then we came upon the lake and decided to rent a canoe. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun. But renting one canoe proved to be expensive for us.
Luckily for us, while in line we had made friends with a group of girls from the southern part of Mexico City who were also skipping school that day.
They told us they could fit two more people in the two canoes they were renting, so we happily jumped in!
As we canoed around the lake with our new friends, a group of canoeing boys our age took notice of us and started talking to us. Our banter was innocent and friendly, and the boys asked if we wanted to switch boats – some of us go into their canoe, and some of them come into ours.
The idea was that the group of guys and the group of girls would hang out together the rest of the day.
I didn’t like that idea. I was skeptical. They were friendly, but I didn’t know them.
So I, along with a few of the other girls stayed in our canoe while the girls that wanted to mingle with the boys were in the other. They passed us their backpacks and other belongings to make room for the extra people that would be in the canoe. Pati was one of them.
As the boys and girls started intermingling in the canoes, a couple of the guys stood up and began rocking the boat.
I watched from a safe distance as the boat tipped over and everyone fell into the lake.
Including my friend, Paty.
Mind you, the lake was disgusting. It had a terrible smell and a thick layer of green algae.
After they fell in, we had to rescue them, which we did. The looks on some of the girls’ faces were filled with devastation.
I was less than devastated. Actually, I was laughing really hard!
They finally got out of the water. Very stinky. And we found some sprinklers around the park where all the girls, including Paty, were able to spray themselves clean.
Luckily, Paty brought an extra shirt that day, and she was able to change, so we walked around a little bit more before finding our way to get some food.
We were very hungry, so we stopped at a street vendor to have elote cocido. That was the perfect snack to end our day at Chapultepec, and we headed home.
Of course, on the way home, we made our way over the science fair. We made sure that we were seen so we’d have an alibi.
It was such a fun, memorable day for me. And what made it all the better is that we didn’t get caught! Our plan had worked, and we had a day of freedom, new friends, lots of laughs and a great snack.
Unfortunately, Paty had a bad allergic reaction on her skin from the disgusting lake water she had fallen in, so she was unable to leave her house for several days, but the memory of the day we skipped school will forever be forged into our memories.
This one is really easy to make, but the flavors are the base of many Mexican foods, and there’s many different variations. So try it, and be creative!
Corn on the cob
Shredded Queso Fresco (If you can’t find queso fresco, use Parmesan cheese)
Skewers to stick through the corn – I didn’t have skewers, so I used chopsticks
1. Shuck, clean and boil corn for about 15 minutes, or until corn is tender.
In separate shallow bowl or cookie sheet, place cheese.
2. Remove corn from water and with a towel (so you don’t burn your hand) insert skewer into the cob. Holding with the skewer, spread butter on the corn then coat corn with a thin layer of mayonnaise.
3. Place corn in cheese and roll to coat.
4. Season with salt, pepper and chile powder, to taste.
5. Squirt fresh lime onto the elote cocido and enjoy!