The Humanitaritian Experience: Cooking Dinner

Drying peppers in the hot sun – Vicente Guerrero, B.C Mexico

Sometimes as I am going about my day to day tasks I begin to think about the places I have been and the people I have met. I wonder what it is that the people of those places are doing at that very moment. As I was cooking dinner at home in California, I let my mind wander. Below are my thoughts of what must happening in those places from my experiences. This is, cooking dinner in a small town of Vicente Guerrero, B.C Mexico.


One by one the pieces of wood ignite while hands carefully maneuver the new wood closer to flames. The flames begin to crawl low and smoke fills the air. A breath is stifled and eyes burn. It is the smell of dinner time approaching.

Fireside – Vicente Guerrero, B.C Mexico

An iron stand is placed over the flames to hold the dinner pot, as if it is containing the fire from the rest of the world.  The flames fight hard to escape, licking through the metal cage of culinary necessity. A cool breeze invites the fire to the evening.

She grabs her jacket and quickly returns outside. The wood has turned to red coal and a small dog trots up towards the pit. Circling and pawing at the ground the dog settles into a small round ball near the radiating heat. Sleep comes swiftly for the small pup and the making of the meal commences.

Cool water begins to boil and the hard beans begin to pucker and split. Salt and ground chili pepper splash into the pot and the meat of the chicken that was plucked earlier that day is placed on the remaining portion of the grill. More wood is added to fuel the heat. Crackling and popping of the new wood, makes the cooking of the dinner seem alive.

A golden glaze begins to appear over the white chicken. The juice of a lime is squeezed over the meat and a loud sizzle awakens and jolts the dog from a dream of play. Chili powder, cumin and more salt is sprinkled over the chicken one last time. Where the beans once cooked and transformed from a hard bead to a soft edible and delectable food, a soft tortilla is placed. It is quickly flipped 3 times, her hands moving fast to avoid the intense heat of the fire.

The chicken is removed from the grill, placed on a small table now filled with the beans, tortillas and a few small plates. Bright orange Tang is poured and the dog is circling and waiting for its chance to dine on the dinner of the night.

Each bite of food is graciously eaten until there is no more left to devour. As the sun sets the minds ease into a state of relaxation. The low rumble of the neighborhood voices are heard more clearly without the distractions of the day. The dust has settled and night arrives.

The fire of the evening dies out slowly just as the sun dies out for the day and it too is known to be there again tomorrow, alive and well appreciated.


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