Trembling Mango Custard (Tembleque de Mango)

Many A Dream I Forged In My Childhood Nights,

My First Romantic Fantasies & Woes

A poster on a theory of the origins of the Timucua natives (Amazonian Venezuela and Colombia, according to the theory) that I made for my History of Florida class is on display atop a gorgeous fireplace in the Saint Augustine Research Library (one of the oldest buildings in the city), and has received favorable feedback from some prominent local figures, most notably the city’s head archaeologist, Dr. Halbirt, according to librarians there. For me, this is the greatest honor imaginable!

It Was Destined To Be This Way,

But My Heart Remained Before The Sea

Sunday held the closing events of the festival for the Spanish Constitution of 1812 here in Saint Augustine, as part of the festivities for the 450th anniversary of the founding of this city. We have the only monument to it that was not taken down after the return of the monarchy. The Spanish government is going to have a replica (thanks to measurements from 3D imaging with a LiDAR scanner last month) made in Cádiz, where the constitution was written, and Avilés, where Pedro Menéndez de Avilés (Saint Augustine’s first adelantado or founder in 1565, though Saint Augustine was already claimed by Spain in 1513) was born. There is going to be another replica for Havana, Cuba as a symbol of hope for the return of a democratic government there, which will be placed in Miami, Florida until then. The obelisk of the Constitution of 1812 stands in Plaza de la Constitución, the only plaza owned by the American federal government that is dedicated to a foreign government. There is a plaza in Saint Augustine, called Hispanic Garden (the garden plaza was built to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Saint Augustine’s founding), with a statue of Queen Isabella I of Spain, but rather than a nod to the Spanish government, it’s a memorial for Isabella specifically and also a marker of the last piece of land in Saint Augustine that Spain owned (This is all info I’ve picked up from many trolley tours of the city and from an announcer at the festival.). I bet Isabella I’s ghost really likes Hispanic Garden, because it’s used for reenactments of Colonial tea parties, dancing and all.

Here are my parents (left photo, to the right) and I dancing in front of Monumento de la Constitución de 1812 (in the right photo, it’s off-camera to the right, but you can see a coquina fence post from it).

Someday I’ll Return To Search For My Love,

To Dream Once Again

At two of the events, amid other Latin bands, a band performed who played the Puerto Rican national anthem, which I heard for the first time. The majority of the crowds for live Latin music were Puerto Rican, so there was much slow dancing, swaying back and forth, and singing along to the Puerto Rican anthem (In general, you find Cubans and Dominicans in Miami-Dade county, Mexicans and Cubans in Hillsborough County, and Puerto Ricans in Orange County. Orange County, a 2 hour drive away, is the closest, plus Florida’s Puerto Rican population is substantial.). I’m used to Americans putting their right hand over their heart while either bowing their heads or looking into the sky during patriotic songs, but the Puerto Rican anthem does not recount historical events or hearken back to a historical fixed period in time. For my favorite version of the song, search “En Mi Viejo San Juan cover Tito Orega” by titoortegarocks on YouTube. For my favorite instrumental version, a violin version, search “En Mi Viejo San Juan –en violin-” by VANELISSE2 on YouTube. If they get removed from YouTube, let me know and I will email them to you! Such elegance must be shared! For the lyrics and translation, go to the Wikipedia page for the writer, Noel Estrada, who happened to be from the same town that my mom is from (Isabela, Puerto Rico). I read the lyrics when I got home on Sunday, listened to the song a few times, and cried myself to sleep, but not in a sad way, per se. Rather, it was like waves crashing into my heart, wearing me down, yet making soft lapping sounds that lulled me to sleep.

Death Already Has Been At My Door,

But I Don’t Want To Die Away From You

Trembling Mango Custard (Tembleque de Mango)
When firm, you should be able to cut the tembleque (literally ‘trembling’) with a knife like gelatin. If it doesn’t come out that way, just eat it like a custard. I’m not sure if it could retain a shape with less cornstarch, so I would not reduce the recipe quantity. My recipe tastes like 94% coconut, 5% corn, and 1% mango (the mango mostly adds a creamier consistency).

Mango 1 medium: ripe, peeled, and pitted
Cornstarch 1/2 cup
Coconut milk 4 cups (Hispanic not Asian; or an all-natural brand like Silk)
Cream of coconut 2 cups or one 15 oz. can
Orange blossom water 2 tbsp

Yield: 2 cups of batter

1. Puree mango in a blender.
2. Heat the coconut milk and coconut cream together on medium heat, stirring constantly, until it starts to bubble and thicken.
3. Turn the stove to medium-low or low and drizzle in the cornstarch, incorporating it thoroughly and dissolving it before adding more.
4. Add the mango and orange blossom water. Dip a spoon in and taste when cooled off enough to taste. Add sugar if desired. Continue to cook, for about 8 minutes, to thicken the batter.
5. Pour batter into ramekins or a baking dish. Refrigerate overnight to firm.

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