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2012 : a tortilla odyssey

February 26, 2012

I was fast dozing off to sleep last night after a particularly  hard day’s  work in the kitchen. Tasks, encounters with co-workers,  and the next day’s work and planning all swirled in my mind. I just wanted to forget about work and pleasantly ease into an undisturbed and restful sleep.  Suddenly I became conscious of  what I had been aware of  behind all the  noise in my head.   The aroma of corn tortillas in the making had entered my room from the outside.  I can detect the smell often because I live about six blocks away from a tortilla factory.  It must  depend on the wind  condition.  Tonight, the appetizing aroma  seemed especially strong .  I was grateful because now I could quiet my mind and  focus on something less annoying.  It’s almost like using incense to zero in on your meditation , ritual, or ambience you are trying to create.  A childhood memory of our priest wafting frankincense in the Catholic mass comes to mind.  That deep, almost intoxicating aroma always had a way attracting my attention .  The incense reminded me  of the seriousness of the matter at hand.   Most of the other parts of the mass were too boring to keep me interested or too over my head for me to understand or appreciate.  The aroma of corn tortillas last night reminded me of my blog and the notes I’m keeping about tortilla making.  I started to think about  how to organize my “kitchen tests” and create a plan . But I also started to feel a craving for a light snack before I fell asleep. Maybe it would help me sleep more soundly.  Wondering whether to get up and go to my kitchen is the last thing I remember before  falling asleep.  Now  I’m dreaming that my hands are gathering together a shaggy flour tortilla dough to begin the kneading process.   I’m feeling and taking note of how the shortening is being dispersed in the flour.  I know it’s vegetable shortening because I don’t detect the scent of lard. I don’t use butter that often. I notice how dry it is and think I’ll be adding more warm water soon.  Magically it moistens up on its own to a good consistency.  I am looking for a smooth texture to come out of the kneading.  I also think this batch will make a dozen that are 6 to 7 inches in diameter. Now I decide to stretch and pull the dough for a windowpane test . Most of you may know that by slowly stretching a piece  dough one can determine if the gluten has been sufficiently developed. If  it can be stretched thin enough to let light pass through, then the dough is ready.   As I’m doing the test, I realize that gluten development  doesn’t apply to flour tortilla making.  Somehow it seemed like the normal thing to do in this dreamworld.  Then came the awareness that I was dreaming! Realizing that the windowpane test  didn’t make sense to this dough “woke me up” within the  dream.  I became elated and then tried to subdue my emotion because I know that too much exitement will only wake me  to my normal waking life.    So I tried to concentrate on the tortilla making and be open to any insights that might come my way.  Dreams are very pliable with  images  easily transforming from one to the other.  The dough transformed itself into a single round shape of a raw tortilla.  Then it turned into one that was cooked. It was warm and had that pleasing scent of a freshly made tortilla.  I looked at it and joked to myself about making out  the face of Jesus in the  brown markings.  I then wondered if  Mohammed was seen in the flatbreads of a Muslim kitchen.  I didn’t see any prophetic markings on this tortilla so I began to wonder what would happen if I ate it.  I believe that eating can sometimes affect our sleep or dreamworld. Maybe eating this tortilla would take me to another level of dreaming.   Untold wonders and adventures are waiting  to be experienced!  The last thing I remember in the dream is eating the tortilla.  I was awake now.  I was very excited about the lucid dream but also  a little disappointed it was over and virtually unexplored.   The moral of the dream?   I guess it would be that engaging in  mundane activities with focus and attention have the potential of  unlocking new ways of seeing and being in the world.



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