It's been a couple of months since I have done a book tour review so I'm excited to be today's stop on the TLC Book Tour for Remedios, a new novel by Deborah Clearman. Accompanying my review is a recipe for a Guatemalan-style Guacamole, served with Toasted Flour Tortillas inspired by my reading.
Fernando Granados is a university professor in financial trouble when a boyhood friend he hasn’t seen in thirty years reenters his life. Memo Galindo, now part of a notorious Mexican cartel, soon persuades Fernando to build a meth lab on his country property, just outside the ancient town of Remedios. Fernando’s strong-willed wife Sandra and their beloved 18-year-old son Félix each fall under Memo’s charismatic spell. The cascading family crisis plays out on a larger stage, from its roots in Guatemala’s civil war in the ’80s to corruption in the Guatemalan army and American DEA, in a country where even the forces of nature wreak vengeance.
Publisher: New Meridian Arts (July 13, 2020)
I have never watched Breaking Bad, or Narcos or been that interested in television shows, movies or books about people caught up in the drug trade but I wanted to read Remedios because I was on the TLC Book Tour for Deborah Clearman's book of short stories Concepción and the Baby Brokers (see my review here). Although Remedios is a novel, like Concepción and the Baby Brokers, it is set in Guatemala and features a gritty look at people caught up in something dangerous. Fernando (Nando) Granados is a university professor with a wife (a previous student) he has never cheated on, children, and several brothers that live with them. Having overspent on a renovating and improving their large home, Nando was in bad enough financial trouble that he looks a large loan from a local loan shark and is getting desperate about how he will pay him back when a friend he hasn't seen in decades shows up. The last time Nando saw Memo Galindo, they were teenagers attending a political meeting that ended with the military shooting it up. Nando and his older brother escape but Memo is left behind and forced to become a soldier to save his life. There are rumors he is part of a dangerous Mexican drug cartel and when Nando offers him a place to stay on some rural family property, Memo soon has him looking the other way while he builds a meth lab there, disguised as a cleaning supply manufacturing business. Nando is desperate to pay off his debt and thinks he can keep himself and his family from getting their hands dirty. Memo has some ulterior motives and long-held grudges with Nando, and soon he is involved with his wife and getting his oldest son involved in the business with some disastrous consequences.
Remedios is not a light nor happy read but it is a quick and compelling one. I found myself caught up in this story and shaking my head in dismay as the ramifications from bad decisions pile up. I also liked getting another glimpse of Guatemala over the past few decades from Clearman, who divides her time between there and New York. I look forward to her next book.
Author Notes: Deborah Clearman is the author of Remedios (New Meridian Arts Literary Press, 2020), Concepción and the Baby Brokers and Other Stories Out of Guatemala (Rain Mountain Press, 2017), and Todos Santos (Black Lawrence Press, 2010). Her short fiction has appeared in numerous literary journals. She wrote and illustrated The Goose’s Tale for children.
Deborah is the former Program Director of the NY Writers Coalition, a nonprofit organization dedicated to offering creative writing workshops to disenfranchised populations throughout New York City. She has led writing workshops for seniors, the homeless, and adults in public housing, and since 2011 has led an ongoing weekly workshop for women and men in jail on Rikers Island. She lives in Manhattan and Guatemala.
Since her first visit to Guatemala in 1978, Deborah has been back many times, living for a year in the village of Todos Santos in 2001-2002. She continues to maintain a close connection to the country and her Guatemalan friends to this day.
There was a fair amount of food inspiration for a small book. Mentions included: soup, red wine, oranges, tortillas to wipe up sauce at mo0st every meal, fish, salad, brandy, avocado trees, fresh eggs, oranges, limes, onions, linked sausages, coffee, rice and beans, brandy, whiskey, lemon trees, chile rellenos, chicken and rice, steak, grilled shrimp, tamales, atole, mutton, fruit and Prosecco, sandwiches, candy bars, ice cream, cappuccinos, beans and tortillas, and McDonalds.
For my bookish dish, I looked up easy Guatemalan recipes and when Guatemalan guacamole appeared, I knew that's what I wanted to make. I have been craving guacamole and liked how most of the recipes I pulled up were pretty simple, most just relying on lime juice, oregano and white onion. I used the one from TasteForTravel.com for my starting point, adjusting the lime and salt to my tastes.
Slightly Adapted from TasteForTravel.com
(Makes about 2-ish Cups)
- 3 avocados, pits removed
- 1 1/2 Tbsp white onion, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano
- juice of 1 lime or more to taste
- 1/2 tsp sea salt or to taste
Mash avocados in a bowl with a fork until mostly smooth. stir in onion, oregano and lime juice. Taste and add salt to taste.
Notes/Results: I like how simple this guacamole is. Oregano is not an herb I typically put in my guacamole and I liked the addition as it pairs well with the lime and makes the flavor a bit more complex. The tortillas I used were small soft "street taco" style that I toasted over my gas burner and they were tasty but tortilla chips would also perfect.
I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event being hosted by Marg at The Adventures of An Intrepid Reader. It's a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. You can see this week's post here.
Note: A review copy of "Remedios" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for my review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the other stops for this TLC Book Tour and what other bloggers thought of the book here.