Hello there, my name is Karla Lugo and I am the new Script Competition Manager at Austin Film Festival. When I say new, I mean new. It was my fourth day at the AFF office when it was announced we would have to start working from home. Yikes! This experience has been strange to say the least, but also kind of amazing.
This is not my first time working from home, but it’s certainly the first time doing it so far away from home. I moved to Austin a year ago from the lovely city of El Paso, TX and I thought I had adjusted quite well over that year. However, spending so much time in my apartment, with only my dog to keep me company and not being able to visit friends was making me feel a little bit homesick. With some extra time thanks to the quarantine I decided to try my hand at cooking some of my favorite meals from back home.
Zoom has been all the rage for many people and many reasons recently. It is also the next best thing when you are trying to master family recipes with no actual recipe. This is a very annoying trait in my family, where they prepare meals from mere memory because their mom did it that way and their dad before that and so on. I am sure that at some point in my life people tried teaching me said recipes, but let’s be honest, there’s only so much your brain can retain when you are 12. Now, I wouldn’t say I am a bad cook, I am simply a lazy cook. I don’t like using a lot of ingredients that require a lot of time to prepare. Pasta? Easy! Got it.
During week 3 of isolation, feeling quite homesick, my first attempt at said culinary endeavors was preparing my grandma’s pilaf. I thought, a rice-based dish should be easy enough. One zoom call to my mom, 35 minutes of me thinking this is not going to work, and a glass of wine later my pilaf was ready. To be honest, it was quite good, but it could never compare to my grandma’s. Not even close. But it did give me that warm and fuzzy feeling of summers at my grandparents’ house. Anyway, a couple days later, still feeling pretty confident I tried making my sister’s famous banana bread. I am not exaggerating when I say people have offered to pay her to make them more of it, friends of the family, coworkers, they always want more. Right off the bat I was setting myself up for failure. I’ll spare you the details. The end result was edible, but seriously lacking in taste; I was probably a couple of bananas short and a few minutes over.
Having had both a success and a failure in the kitchen, over the weekend I decided to treat myself to a breakfast dish that I had been perfecting since college, some delicious chilaquiles. Now, this dish is the easiest and most satisfying in Mexican cuisine. It literally takes 10 minutes to prepare, it is insanely delicious, and it makes everything feel like home. It takes you back to college all-nighters when all you had was a few ingredients in the fridge and it was 2:00 AM so nothing would be open, takes you back to Sunday mornings with the whole family, and it makes your new home feel more and more just like home.