Jamie stared nervously at the pot filled with hot lard and boiling water and a 5-pound piece of pork shoulder. It was his first time making Mexican food, and he had invited Manuel, Luisa, and Beatriz over to sample it. Way to put the pressure on, he thought to himself, as he turned down the heat and added an orange and some bay leaves to the mix. He scanned the ingredient list on his phone one more time to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything. It rang while he was holding it and nearly fell into the pot.
“Hello?” he said, managing to retrieve the phone and hold it awkwardly with one hand.
“Hola, guey, it’s Manuel. What time should we be over?”
Jamie stared skeptically at his boiling pork. “Three hours? Let’s say four, to be safe. So 7.”
“Let’s say 6 because by the time my cousins are ready it’ll be 7 for sure. What should we bring?”
Jamie glanced over at the table, where he’d laid out the pico he’d made the night before, guacamole, and a tomatillo salsa. “Nothing. I think I have it covered.”
“What about tortillas? You got those?” A lady’s voice crackled in the background. “My grandma just made a fresh batch, she says to bring them.”
“I only have store bought ones, so yeah, that would be great actually.”
“Cool. See you in a few.”
A couple hours later, Jamie was lifting a sodden mass of pork out of the hot, fragrant liquid and onto a tray. The meat was already falling off the bone, and he barely had to brush it with his fingers for the rest to drop off. Usually, when his parents made pork it was the driest cut of chop, with every last bit of moisture drawn out by his dad broiling the heck out of it. This was practically a different animal.
As he was finishing the meat with some oil from the pan and some sea salt, the doorbell rang.
“Hey!” Dressed in a collared shirt and carrying a six-pack, Manuel stood next to Luisa and Beatriz, who were both wearing floral dresses that accented their hips. The girls held out a basket of warm tortillas and a tres leches cake decorated with cherries.
“Thanks!” said Jamie. “That looks amazing.”
“It smells good in there,” said Manuel.
“Come look,” said Jamie, holding the door open for them. They trooped in and stood around the carnitas.
“Hey man, this looks almost as good as my uncle’s. Right, Luisa?”
Luisa picked up a piece and nibbled on it. “Delicious. I’m impressed.” She winked at Jamie, who blushed.
“If you can make carnitas like this, I suppose this means that next time I gotta make Vietnamese food,” said Manuel. “Better go check out some banh mi and summer roll recipes, huh.” He elbowed Jamie in the side, and they all sat down to eat, the crackling sounds of Jamie’s grandma’s folk songs echoing from the turntable in the back room.
- For the full recipe, check out Best of Flash Fiction Kitchen, available here.
This post has been shared on Phoenix Helix’s Paleo-AIP Roundtable.