This post just went out as part of my April Newsletter and I thought I’d share it here as well.
It has been about six weeks since I launched (Veena’s Market) in mid-February. And what an interesting six weeks it has been. Everyone I talk to loves the concept behind Veena’s Market – recipe kits that make it really easy to cook something from another cuisine and get good results. And many are curious about how I came up with the idea.
It was July 2009. With Yadira in the lead, we stopped by the local market to pick up herbs and vegetables and then caughta packed mini bus and held on for dear life till we reached her village a short distance from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala’s second largest city. Once there, we stopped by the butcher’s to pick up fresh chicken before walking up the steep cobblestone pathway to her home – a farmhouse built into the hillside with spectacular views of the village below and volcanoes in the distance. Rows of planted corn, barking dogs and clucking hens completed the pretty picture. Yadira had ambitious plans for us. We learned that the secret to home-made tortillas lay not just in getting the right ratio of masa flour to water but especially in forming the tortilla. You hold the little ball of dough and slap it back and forth from hand to hand to create an even and round tortilla, something that is easier said than done! We learned how to thicken the sauce for Pepian (an orange-red sauce that is usually made with chicken) with rolls of white bread and how to make tamalitos (little tamales) to go with the curry. Finally for dessert, we learned how delicious plantains stuffed with sweet black bean paste can be and how easy it is to make them. Well, it is easy enough when you know to buy plantains that are just the right shade of green – ripe but not too mature.
My husband and I were lucky to arrange this culinary adventure with Yadira, a friend of our Spanish teacher. I loved every minute of this wonderful afternoon and was so grateful for the insights not only into Guatemalan cuisine but also into Guatemalan culture. A couple of months earlier, I was trying to decide between going back into the corporate world or pursuing an entrepreneurial endeavor related to food, something I’ve always been passionate about. It was an easy decision to make. I wanted to create Veena’s Market and give people similar insights into other cultures and cuisine as what I received in Guatemala. Helping people connect to other cultures through food; I couldn’t think of a better job description!
I’ve loved reading your emails and comments sent through the website. As we continue on our journey to improve and grow, I hope you will stay in touch and share your thoughts on recipes, cuisines or anything Veena’s Market can improve on.