Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yummy first love

If you've never had cajeta, you must, must, must have some before you give up the ghost!  I'm not suggesting you'll be leaving us anytime soon but I am suggesting you not chance it.  You never know when your time is up and why risk breaking the hearts of those who love you by not endulging yourself in cajeta at least once.

Just the mention of the word suggests love in it's purest form.  Say it.  Go on...say it! CA..HET..TA.  Now say it in a breathy whisper...Caheta.  It's enough to drive your husband or wife into a jealous rage so before you get into trouble with your significant other who's probably wondering why your calling out to cajeta while sitting in front of your computer, maybe I should explain how my love affair with cajeta began.

Over 50 years ago, yes we go that far back, in a small town in Mexico, my sweet little tia turned me on to what would prove an incurabel addiction to Cajeta: She and I were home alone.  My parents had gone out for the evening, my brothers were invited to spend the night with a friend and my sister...well, my sister was still an egg I suppose (don't tell her I told you).  I was bored stiff and my aunt being old could think of nothing to do to amuse me.  I can still see her shuffling around in her little black china shoes, black mourning dress and shawl, searching desperately for some way to entertain me.  It happened shortly after she'd lifted me up to see a very sleepy parrot for the 3rd time that she was suddenly hit with an idea.  I saw her expression change from despair to hope.  She grabbed me by the hand, I could tell in that very second something was about to happen.  Even at my very young inexperienced age I knew without a doubt something was a'comin.

With my little hand in hers we skated across the floor to her bedroom, a place few had ever entered.  She immediately shuffled over to a makeshift closet and there in the corner sat a small box tied with twine.  After taking a quick glance about the room to ensure there were no evil doers standing in the shadows, she reached for the box, stopped, and then unashamedly stopped to wipe the spittle that had accumilated around the corners of her mouth with her sleeve.  Although the room was dimly lit, I could see the excitement on her face and the glow that seemed to emanate from around the little wooden oblong box.  I could hardly contain myself from reaching out and grabbing the box from hands that moved far too slowly for a five year old.

Before the lid could be removed, she said, I must sit like a good little girl.  I nearly strangled the old woman!  I have no evidence of the fact but believe that day was the root cause of my life long struggle with high blood pressure.

Finally after what seemed an eternity the old bag opened the lid and instead of the toy or money I thought she would produce, there was a gooey, caramel colored substance.  Had it not been for the very rich, very creamy and most favorable aroma flowing through the air and up my nostrols, I might have kicked her a good one.  The woman was trying my patience!

Finally, and I mean FINALLY, she produced from inside the lid a little wooden spoon.  It was cute, sure,  but by this time I had little interest in cute.  I wanted to get to the point of all this secrecy and NOW.  As if in slow motion, she dipped the tip of the spoon into the goo and then with the most careful intention proceeded to spoon feed me but not without stopping within a millameter of my lips to promise me I would love it.  I could feel my eyese buldging with rage; I wanted to strangle her already.  Had she no memory of what it was like to be a child?  Was this some form of torture and was she getting her kicks out of watching me wiggle with anticipation?  After what seemed to be a billion years, the spoon finally touched my lips.  For the first time in my young life I knew the meaning of unconditional love and NO, I'm not talking about that for my aunt. 

Lordy!  Holy Toledo!  Gee Wizakers and Wow!  That stuff was good!  I found love on a wooden spoon and couldn't get enough of the stuff.  I insisted on holding the spoon myself, something my aunt was not too happy about.  She fought to keep a grasp on it but I was much quicker than she.  We were about to throw blows when we heard the dogs begin barking signaling the return of my parents and the end of my first encounter with what would soon become my sole purpose for living.

Before leaving my aunts room, I watched to make sure she returned the box to the same spot.  It would take skill and planning but one way or another, that box was mine!

She guided me (against my will) out the door and into my mothers arms then turned and locked the door behind her followed by the chain and then the wooden bar.  My entry would take some planning but it would be worth time behind prison bars if it came down to it.

So, there you have it.  The story of how I, so many years ago, fell into the pit of no return.  Sadly, my beloved cajeta is now made and sold in plastic containers which totally RUINS THE FLAVOR!!!  The original packaging was in little wooden boxes and yes, the candy flavor hinted of wood but I'll tell you, if you spread it on tree bark I'd still eat it.

Every year we travelled to Mexico was a spiritual experience for me knowing I'd be re-united with my cajeta and the chance to stock up until my return a year later.  The very few times my uncle actually traveled to the U.S. to visit us, he arrived with a generous supply knowing it would gain him entry into the kingdom as work done for humanity's sake.


Debbie said...

Comadre, I have never heard of cajeta, let alone tasted it! Can you believe that. But what I liked the most about the story was how your Tia and you shared that experience.

What does cajeta taste like?

Marie said...

Cajeta is like a caramel but it wasn't so much the caramel taste that I loved so much, it was the taste of wood with it. They since have started packing it in bottles or plastic like every other candy which in my opinion lost the whole sabor. In writing this I found so many blogs discussing cajeta, different forms of using it and the overall love for it. You must try it.

Bunny Missbrenner said...

You like the taste of wood huh? That's interesting. Never heard of the stuff, but then, I've never heard of whole lotta other stuff too!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Exquisite story brilliantly written; I remember the stuff! When we would make our own pilgrimage to Tijuana (I was never lucky enough to go to the real Mexico), my father would buy us a jar of the nectar of Gods....and of course, being the pig that I was, I would sit in the back seat and eat about 1/4 of the jar!!! Beautiful memories my beautiful cousin....and food made with humble ingredients and packaging is disappearing and is slowly taking our own impressions with it; I wonder, do your girls have the same love for it? Have a great weekend and thanks for visiting my cooking session with the delightful and lovely Audrey, my fashion icon!!Bisous, Anita

Rattus Scribus said...


Things I liked about this post:
--- The "CA-HE-TA" love affair description--"go ahead, say it." And "I found love on a wooden spoon." (The Stylistics eat your heart out.)
--- Description of your patience wearing thin as you gradually transition from "my sweet little tia" to "old bag," and "we were about to throw blows" (that was gorgeous).
---And the best and funniest line of all: "The original packaging was in little wooden boxes and yes, the candy flavor hinted of wood but I'll tell you, if you spread it on tree bark I'd still eat it."
---Great post of a bygone event that will never be a bygone memory.


P.S., what did you mean on your comment on Rattus' Tales about copyright? Did you send me an email? I couldn't find it.

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Bonjour ma belle,
I awarded you the same award that Bunny gave us, but do come by when you get a chance. Love ya! Anita

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Chère cousine,
Thank you for your lovely comments on the blog post. Kindness and love were and remain to be, a fond memory of my momma and Audrey...have a marvelous day. Bisous, Anita