A Chocolate Memory…

Joanna (standing with hands on Loretta’s shoulders at Christmas 2006 Christmas
Ken and Jorge at our home, Christmas 2006








My day began with a chocolate memory that made me smile; and as I reminisced, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the years of a special friendship…

For about a decade, during the late 1990s and early 2000s, we spent a lot of time with Ken and Loretta. Their three bedroom home was on the third floor of a condo, maybe 30 meters from the sea. A bank of floor-to-ceiling glass windows ran along the front of the unit, and from about 2 o’clock onwards, wind gusts would rattle them with such force; I wondered how they didn’t shatter. But the eerie howling going on outside didn’t faze Ken and Loretta; not even when a worrisome pinging would start bouncing off the stressed panels.

Always, when the four of us were together, we listened to music, all kinds of music, played at high volume in order to compensate for the gale raging around us. Art they picked up on their travels, popped out from a bright orange accent wall, rattan chairs that Loretta made comfortable with pillows, a towering statue of a giraffe and tidy piles of books made their seaside apartment look like an artist’s studio. The aroma of Loretta’s fabulous food cooking on the stove, and the mellowing affect of Ken’s signature margaritas, melted away any cares I might have brought with me. We probably spent hundreds of afternoons together, and the memory of their home’s sounds, sights and smells wraps comfort around me, like a Mexican rebozo.

Loretta was always a stimulating conversationalist, and Ken, an unparalleled listener. Jorge and I never knew what the focus of our repartee would be, but without fail, it proved to be just what we wanted to talk about that day. Our opinion on most topics was sufficiently in sync with each others’ to be friendly, and opposing enough to be lively.

And then there was Loretta’s skill in the culinary arts. Oh my, some of the most superb meals I’ve had in my life floated from her little kitchen. She had worked as a food writer and restaurant critic at a big San Francisco daily; so she knew her stuff. While living here, she wrote a cookbook about Yucatecan cuisine. The current coffee table book by David Sterling is a work of art, but for content and authenticity, Loretta’s “Yucatecan Kitchen” certainly holds its own. (BTW it is available on Amazon)


Her teacher and mentor was “Adelita”, an accomplished cook from Chicxulub, the beach community where they lived. This lovely woman came every Wednesday to cook with Loretta, and she taught my friend about more than cooking. Adelita, a Mayan grandmother, used to say: Una comida sin frijol es muy triste – A meal without beans is very sad. I asked Loretta if she knew what that implied. “Oh I do,” she said, “Adelita knew terrible hunger during several periods of her life.” Indeed Loretta understood her teacher’s soulful respect and gratitude for food.

Although Loretta and Ken eventually moved away from Yucatan, our friendship remained intact. We visited each other and have shared some of our happiest and saddest experiences with them. Ken passed away several years ago and Loretta lives in Florida now; she has become an accomplished, prize-winning ceramicist. And why you may ask did I feel the need to share this particular story today?

Since the COVID-19 virus arrived into our lives like an army of storm troopers, I think we have all turned inward; we find refuge in memories. Quite frankly, mine are all that’s keeping me sane right now. This morning on facebook, Loretta wrote that in her isolation, she is pursuing old cookbooks; she had an amazing collection of both books and file cards with favourites passed on by friends and family.

Today she posted one from “Ruth”, a southern belle who knew a decadent rich dessert recipe when she saw it. Jorge had us doubled over with laughter when he described it as a “happy ending”. Later I asked if he’s understood his double entendre. He just smiled.

Baked Fudge or Lava Cake

Preheat oven 325 F.

You will need a baking pan for a Bain Marie and 8 to 10 baking cups

Beat four eggs with 2 cups sugar. Add one cup (2 sticks) of melted butter.
Sift together 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 cup cocoa and add to egg-sugar-butter mixture.
Stir in 1 tsp. Vanilla extract and 1 cup chopped nuts, if desired.
Pour. Mixture into 8-10 custard cups and set in a pan of hot water. Bake at 325 F. for one hour or un til it’s crusty on top. Serve warm with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream or creme anglaise.


Published by Changes in our Lives

I am originally from Canada but have lived in Mexico since 1976. My husband is from Merida, Yucatan and we raised our family here. We both worked for many years at Tecnologia Turistica Total (TTT), the tourism, language and multimedia college we founded for local and international students. Now retired, we enjoy spending time with family and friends, My other interests include reading, painting, cooking and travel.

8 thoughts on “A Chocolate Memory…

  1. Lava cakes are just wonderful and not difficult to make. Like Nanaimo Bars the recipe must have travelled around the world. Here they are in Chicxulub. I used to make them for dessert at the the lodge I worked at in the Canadian Rockies in the 1960s. I was ‘The Cook’, seven days a week. The lava cakes were baked in the oven of a large, old, wood-burning stove. As the lodge was at over 7000 ft, baking powder powder would vary, all adding to the mystery. According to the number of guests and staff, the dessert could be individual or an 8×8 Pyrex dish to share, one for each table. For some reason, the larger version was called Denver Pudding. This creation would rise to an alpen -shape in the middle of the pan, and then explode with hot chocolate goo running down the sides of the mountain. Most satisfying.


  2. Just what I needed today Joany and hopefully it will taste just as good made with gluten-free flour. I will be freezing some when I make them so that I am not tempted to eat them all at one sitting🤣


      1. Now that is a good idea re Easter dinner.. We ‘splurged’ and have ordered the fixins’ from our local butcher shop The Gibsons Butcher – ham,scalloped pots and roasted veg.. And unknown to Gary I have ordered an individual salted caramel cheesecake for him (unfortunately they do not have gf ones nor anymore gf butter tarts 😦 but I will make do with something else – perhaps a lava cake. I am going to try a bread recipe I just found on Tasty (i think) 4 ingredient in a dutch oven.


      2. So how was Easter dinner? Ours was wonderful… We did the social distancing, but Carlos and Yesi came for lunch. What a joy to have them with us… it was like a re-birth… and for them too. Happy Easter my dear friend. As soon as this is over, we will see each other


      3. Delicious Easter dinner. The marinade for the ham & the veg were both very tasty. I did not have the scalloped pots as I forgot to ask if the cream mix had flour in it so to play it safe I had a few hash brown patties instead. We chatted with Moe & Mom in the am, emailed with Beth & texted with Gab. We had face time with the Young clan yesterday ( i think it was…or Friday)
        It is nice & sunny up here although not as warm as yesterday.
        So nice for you that Carlos & Yesi made it over – a real treat for all of you.
        Much love 💕


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