This is an exercise in rejecting reality.
Today is not Monday.
You will wake up at 10 am. And the whole day will be ahead of you.
You will not have to sit in a lecture hall. Or stand over in a cadaver in an anatomy lab trying to differentiate one anatomical landmark from another. You will certainly not have to learn all of the cranial nerves, all of their branches, and all of their endpoints.
I mean, really. That would just be crazy.
You will not be a medical student. You just. Will. Not.
End of story.
You will not be asked fifty times by people who you have not thought about once in three months, how your summer was. You will not smile and answer, “Relaxing. Low key. Happy. How was yours?”
You will not wish that you could go back three months. To the beginning. And do it all over again.
You will not wish that because you won’t need to. You are on a permanent vacation, baby. Live it up.
You are on a plane headed to Puerto Rico. You are going to sip tropical drinks by a pool and eat nothing but plantains and yucca for three months straight. You are going to meet your new Latin lover. And have the kind of relationship like they have in the movies. Fun, carefree, no strings attached.
(Your mother will not remind you constantly that you don’t have time for Latin lovers. You need to get serious. Find the one. Like, now. Pronto. Yesterday, in fact, would have been ideal.)
Yeah. That would be the life. Maybe. Someday.
But for now.
For now, while you do in fact have to wake up and go to class and plunge a scalpel into some unsuspecting cadaver’s neck until you find something that resembles the subclavian artery. At least you can dream.
And eat pastelon. A lasagna that is at once sweet, salty, savory, tangy. Delicious. Truly an explosion of flavor in every bite. The thought of which might just get you through your first day back at school. Maybe. Possibly. Hopefully.
You have until tomorrow night to email me your recipes for REGIONAL RECIPES: PUERTO RICO!
Pastelon or Sweet Plantain Lasagna
Serves 4, adapted from The Noshery
1/2 lb grass-fed, local beef
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 tsp adobo
2 tsp oregano
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 envelope sazon
2 bay leaves
8 green stuffed olives, halved
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup tomato sauce
4 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into strips
2 tbsp milk
1-2 cups shredded mozzarella
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray an 8×8 inch baking pan with cooking spray or grease it with butter.
2. Combine beef, onion, pepper, garlic, oregano, adobo, sazon, cilantro and vinegar in a medium bowl. Mix well.
3. In a medium, nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Saute the beef mixture, breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon, until brown. Add in the tomato sauce and raisins. Simmer for 8-10 minutes. Set aside.
4. In another nonstick skillet, fry the plantain strips until brown on both sides until slightly crispy, 2-3 minutes, either by lining the pan with vegetable oil or cooking spray (guess what I did). Drain on a plate with a paper towel and set aside.
5. To assemble the pastelon, layer half of the plantain strips on the bottom of the pan. Cover with all of the beef and a layer of cheese. Top with the remaining half of the plantain strips. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs together with the 2 tbsp of milk. Pour over the top of the baking pan and allow to sit for a minute so that the egg sinks in. Top with a final layer of cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to sit for a few minutes after removing from the oven so it will slice more cleanly.