Summer arrived overnight, without warning and the kitchen was stiffling. Restaurant kitchens in summer are the stuff of legend. I must have spent a hundred dollars on popcicles this week. It's all I can do. Some people are more affected than others. I have a pregnant woman on staff who had to bail early on one of the worst days. We have an Igloo cooler in the walkin in which we make refrescas -concoctions of fruit juice, ice, water, soda, limes and mint. It's handy for the cooks and it is better than drinking soft drinks all night which are not refreshing at all. Strangest of all, when the temperature dropped to ninety, everyone perked up.
Summer has arrived a little ahead of its traditional produce, like cucumbers, tomatoes and watermelon, but this weather has been a real boon to the space monster plants out front of the restaurant. That hot dry corner seems to be perfect for desert species. The flowers are so dramatic that people walking by them are stopped in their tracks. Hopefully by the weekend we'll at least have cucumbers and the first watermelons so that we can bring back cold fried chicken, which is served with these things plus devilled eggs. The tomato and watermelon salad will have to wait a little longer. We heard from Walter Atwater this week and he says that good summer tomatoes are just a week or so away. He has ninety plants so it appears that we'll have plenty. Speaking of flowers, it seems like the honeysuckle won't quite go away so the sorbet will be available from time to time, but probably won't be on the menu. You'll have to ask.
One last thing to report that both does and doesn't pertain to our kitchen. When I came to work at Crook's in 1993 Antonio Lopez was already working there. In 1995 he returned home to Celaya to start a business- Comida Corrida
a take out restaurant. The peso collapsed shorty afterward and soon he and some of his friends were back in Chapel Hill. He got his paperwork in order and began the process of moving his family up here. This took some doing, but now they are all here. I am proud to say that I am now their sponsor with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, having signed documents agreeing to be responsible if they sneak onto the foodstamp or wellfare rolls. I have no fear of this. Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending a Mass honoring the twenty-fifth anniversary of Antonio's marriage to Margarita.