Pancho pulls out a plastic container and unscrews the lid, holding it out beneath my nose. I inhale the sweet, fruity, spicy scent and sigh with pleasure. Mole. Ricardo hasn't shown you how to make this? He asks. I shake my head.
He leans in close, comfortable, his face animated, his hands gesticulating to and fro to supplement his words, inserting jokes and pausing every now and then to lay a hand on my shoulder, "Entiendes?" You understand? I laugh, Ricardo laughs, of course she does. Grinning and nodding, I shrug, "Si, si..." Ricardo's lovely mom, Betty, casts me a sidelong glance, smiling knowingly. "Poquito." Well, a little.
We sit outside in the disappearing sun and the quickening cool breeze, wearing layers: Ricardo, Pancho, Betty, cousin Dafne, nephew Yashir, myself and my mom. Pancho offers the prayer in Spanish and we all cross ourselves the Catholic way, the way Ricardo taught me, ending with a kiss to our thumbs and index fingers forming a cross. I savor the sopa (soup) - squash, spinach and potato - and my mouth melts into its pureed smoothness. Now my gaze shifts to Ricardo, so happy, eyes bright, and inhale this moment. Mom practices her Spanish, conversation flows somehow, and Betty's eyes glisten. These are the treasures, so sweet, and I am finally transported into new stories of Ricardo's long-cherished family traditions.