January 4, 2017
The first time I had Merluzzo in Umido was November 1992. My husband and I took my mother, his mother, and his fraternal grandmother to Santa Fe for a week over Thanksgiving. At the time, we were living in Chicago. We rented an ancient adobe house off Garcia Street. The house didn’t have any central heat though it did have a frightening array of heating devices that included a kiva fireplace, a direct-vent gas heater in the living room, a portable electric heater in one of the bedrooms, wall-mounted electric radiant heaters in the bathrooms, and nothing in the kitchen. If the oven wasn’t on, the kitchen was the coldest room in the house as it had three outside walls and a door that didn’t seal very well.
Of course, it was reported to be the coldest winter that Santa Fe had experienced in 100 years! In addition to cold, there was lots of snow. And there we were, in a drafty old adobe house with no central heat enjoying a week with the likes of The Golden Girls!
We had a blast.
We had been house hunting in Santa Fe since April of that year. On that November trip we saw several houses we liked. We spent a few evenings rating each of the houses on an array of factors using a spreadsheet. (In my professional life, we would have called this a prioritization matrix or selection grid. It’s a technique I’ve taught to hundreds of health care professionals over several decades.) One afternoon we all piled into the car to look at the two finalists in the property hunt. We were uncertain which one to buy. Not so the women. A little house on Griffin Street was the undisputed, hands-down favorite. Deal done!
We put in an offer and closed in January. For most of December my mother kept saying that she wanted to go back to Santa Fe and stay in the house in the spring. We did a bit of remodeling and moved into the house in March. Unfortunately, my mother died in January, shortly before we closed on the house. She never got to experience her dream of returning to Santa Fe. We had that house for more than nine years before we moved into a much larger Santa Fe property in Ricardo-Legorreta-designed Zocalo. After Zocalo, we built and moved into Villa Sentieri overlooking the city.
I frequently think of that trip. It was memorable in so many ways. We found our first house in Santa Fe. I got to spend quality time with my mother in the last weeks of her life. My husband and I had interviews to get our medical licenses in New Mexico. (It’s the only time either of us has been personally interviewed for a medical license!). And, I learned how to make Merluzzo in Umido, one of many recipes that my husband’s grandmother brought with her from Italy.