My parents met in Tampico, Mexico and married around 1940. He was from Oklahoma and she was from the other side of Mexico, Aquila, Michoacan. He supervised the building of oil tanks and was a translator for PEMEX in Mata Redonda, Veracruz. They had a house in town and on weekends they would drive south along the costera to Garrapatas, where they had small ranch.
My father made cobbler on weekends. My sister recalls that the baked fruit dish always had dried prunes. I'm sure it had papaya because there was a papaya tree in the yard as the photo below shows in the upper right-hand corner.The above photo begs an explanation. On the left is my grandfather, Asberry John Smith, my mother Eva Maria (pregnant with my other sister) and my great grandfather Henry Davis Smith. Henry Davis Smith, born in 1849 in Tallapoosa, Alabama, a slave, was the first in his family to emigrate to Mexico in 1910. Encouraged by the boomtown conditions the discovery of oil brought to costal southern Tamaulipas and northern Veracruz, he bought property and worked for the American oil companies who were beginning to drill and extract oil for the nascent automobile and asphalt paving industries. Later, in 1920, my grandparents, Asberry and Elizabeth Cobb Cohee Smith, joined Henry in Tampico Alto. They took their 9 children, of whom my father was the oldest. This is Elizabeth's immigration document.The 1920 U.S. Census for Berwyn township, Carter County, Oklahoma, lists my father, Garfield Smith, 22 years old and working as a blacksmith in an oil field.
The Smiths went to Mexico to work. They bought property, they learned Spanish and the younger children went to school. They adapted to Mexico and its customs, but they also clung to vestiges of Oklahoma. They baked. They baked biscuits, cornbread, dinner rolls and cobblers. By the time my father met my mother, this dish went from being called a cobbler to "fruta horneada", or "ovened fruit".
Fruta Horneada / Mixed Fruit Cobbler
1 Mango, peeled and cubed
1/2 Pineapple, peeled and cubed
1/2 Medium papaya, peeled and cubed
2 cups Strawberries, stemmed and cubed
4-5 Apricots, pitted and cubed
1/2 cup Dried, pitted prunes, cut in half
2 Cinnamon sticks
3-4 Whole cloves
2-3 Whole black pepper
1 cup Sugar
1 Lemon, juiced
2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
2/3 cup Butter, cut into bits
8 Tbs. Water, ice cold
Collect all of the fruits, spices and sugar in a large bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over all and mix thoroughly.
In a food processor, cut the butter into the salted flour, pulsing until it looks crumbly. Add the ice water and process just until it forms into a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten slightly. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Cut the rolled out dough into strips 3/4 inch by 3 inches -- roughly!
Mix the dumplings with the fruit, pour into an oven-proof casserole dish, reserving some to decorate the top of the cobbler. Bake in a 450˚ oven for one hour or until the fruit is bubbling and the strips on top are browned. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.