Monday, January 20, 2014

Octopus Salad and Puerto Rico...

Hi everyone, hope you're all doing well!

     I'm doing fine and am ready to share with you where I went and what I'm up to.  I'd like to begin by saying what I'm about to share with you still "stings" somewhat, but I find it necessary to tell my story because there's a lesson in it for everyone.
     A few months ago I announced that I am finally leaving Florida, I was elated at the simple thought of it.  Hell, I even got a farewell clambake and party at a friends house.  My destination? Puerto Rico!  Why?  In researching it, I learned there's this unspoken "foodie" movement there.  I'd read that the natives and tourists in Puerto Rico tend to seek out the street food vendors as opposed to actual restaurants.  A light bulb went on in my head, I thought "I could do that"  "I have the funds to start up a little kiosk type eatery on the road".
The more I thought of it, the more enticing it seemed.  I contacted my sister who lives there and we spoke at length for weeks or even months of the prospect, until one day I looked at my surroundings, measured the pro's and cons and realized that any change I made had to be better than my current situation.
     I turned to my daughter's and announced "we're leaving"!  They were happy to hear it, they too had been longing for a change and immediately began sorting out what they were taking and what was staying.  While the job I held for over three years offered the satisfaction one gets from helping and caring for others, I had a constant sense of unhappiness because in spite of that, it wasn't what I'd been working so hard to be a CHEF!
     I sold a lot of my belongings and shipped only my valued cooking paraphernalia, oh and my daughters  dolls of course.  I left some things in the care of a friend, which I would send for later if things went well, I announced to the Landlord that I am leaving, moved in with a friend for a week before I left.  June 10th 2013, my daughters and I left "the sunshine state" for La isla del encanto...
     We stayed in "Cayey" Puerto Rico as that is where my sister lives and we were to stay with her until we found our own place.  Cayey is pretty much all mountains, it is an hour away from San Juan or any body of water (beach I mean).  There are rivers nearby though, worth visiting.  Two weeks later we had found our own place, three weeks later, we bought a car, we were on our way.
     I got to work on acquiring a permit to sell food, initially I had been told one didn't need one.  But upon attempting to sell without one, I was informed by police I need one, ugh!  The process to get a vendor's permit in Cayey is one I had never heard of, one must go speak to the Mayor of the town and request it.  I got up super early one morning or rather I didn't sleep all night so as to head out by five A.M. as that is when everything happens in Puerto Rico, early!  I sat in the "Alcaldia" (Mayor's office) for five hours!  Turns out whenever people need something of importance such as: help for a disabled elderly person, housing, an increase in benefits, a vendor's permit they go to the Mayor, hence all the waiting.  I was told he doesn't always grant you a permit, but I had to try.    
     When it was my turn (my number was called)  I got nervous as there were a bunch of people in his office, but he came over to me and kindly asked me why I was there.  I told him I wanted a vendors permit and the area where I wanted to sell, he wrote it down on a "post it" and sent me to the second floor.  Six hours after I left my home, I had a temporary vendor's permit in my hand.
     Once I had the permit, I set out to build on the things I'd purchased to sell.  I'd already bought a table, disposable containers, an umbrella etc....Lastly I bought a nice tabletop grill and thought "now I've got it right".  I set out to my spot as much as possible as it rained a lot and I only had a beach umbrella.  One could only hold food for so long before you have to purchase fresh ingredients, so when I didn't sell, which seemed to be everyday, we ate the product for dinner.  Needless to say my friends, I "flopped", I tried everything I could in the area to succeed, but I flopped!
     Aside from the business flopping, the apartment I rented had no screens and insects became a real problem, I would never be able to own the title of the car I bought And with no revenue coming in, I was going broke.   I'd never felt such an intense disappointment in myself as I did in November, when I decided to return to "the sunshine state".  So that's my story good people, I was immersed in trying to get my business up and running there and that is why I hadn't written in a while.  In coming back I felt too embarrassed to write, but I've picked myself up and still hope to go somewhere with my culinary degree.
     The lesson I learned?  There is no happily ever after, no matter what you achieve or what you hope to achieve there will always be work to be done to maintain it or in your future endeavors to succeed.   I was however, glad to see my Puerto Rico again, but my next trip there will be purely recreational!
      I can't go without sharing my recipe for Octopus Salad, a staple I had on occasion growing up, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.  Thank you for reading, enjoy!


      1 pound of octopus
1 green pepper diced
1 tomato diced
10 stuffed green olives pitted diced
1/2 red onion diced
1 clove garlic made into paste
1/3 cup vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
salt tt
pepper tt
     The octopus can be purchased chopped and frozen in some stores, if you're in Puerto Rico Walmart and Econo have it.  If you're in the States you may still find it in Walmart, if not buy a whole one at a fish monger.  If you buy a whole one, you will have to boil it until tender.  Remove the skin (Purple layer), then slice it up.  If bought frozen, let it thaw add to bowl and build it up with the ingredients.  Same for the cooked after slicing it add to a bowl and add all the ingredients above.  Mix it and serve with rice or verduras..  Enjoy!

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