Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Full Day (Mexico City, Mexico)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ingrid and I visit what promises to be one dud of a museum. We are pleasantly surprised by the Museo del Calzado El Borcegui -- the Shoe Museum (Bolivar 27, first floor, betwen Madero and 16 de septiembre). Not that we don't like shoes. Au contraire; I think shoe-love is in our genes. But we are charmed by much of the footware on display.

Fifteen thousand miniature shoes, made of materials as diverse as glass, porcelain, plastic, wood, ceramic, and animal hide, are delightful to see, but they are not what set our hearts a-pounding. There are 2,000 pairs of shoes on view -- Eat your heart out, Imelda Marcos! -- and, although the exhibits of sports shoes and astronaut's boots are nice, what interest us more are the shoes from different ages and from around the world (those itsy-bitsy foot-scrunchers from China, sandals from Mexico, high-walkers from Japan). Even better are the absolutely gorgeous 20th- Century shoes, many manufactured and designed in Switzerland (I didn´t realize they had a shoe industry there), Mexico, and Spain, which boast real leather and suede and brilliant details and fine workmanship from heel to toe. Luckily, the shoes are shielded behind glass showcases, because we might have slobbered all over them had we been able to examine them more closely and actually (Ooooh, the thought of it!) caress them.

At the Ciudadela this afternoon, a dance instructor and I discuss relationships. He is recovering from his fourth failed marriage and has sworn off serious entanglements. Probably a good idea.

The man who runs the weekly dances here has embarrassed me by calling out my name so many times that practically everyone knows who I am. People I don't recognize greet me as if I were their long-lost gringa. I dance with new and familiar young and old partners, including a former boxer-turned-professional-dancer, a fragile-looking elderly gent whose style and stamina astound, and a gum-chewing, dyed-blond wrestler-type, who laments that he hadn't met me earlier. As I leave the park, I receive one of the nicest compliments ever. "Traes tu luz," says a man with whom I've only danced once, and badly. "You bring your light."

It's still light out when Ingrid, Carol, and I set out for a farewell dinner. Carol is leaving shortly for Acapulco, after which she'll return to South Africa. We are dining at Cafe Tacuba, a "real" restaurant, about 40 notches and three stars above my usual eating establishments.

We begin the meal with a basket of good bread and -- something I haven't seen in my entire stay in Mexico, and rarely use at home -- butter. Carol treats us to a bottle of good red wine and, as we are serenaded by the talented resident musicians, we each offer a toast: "To our friendship!" "To our meeting again!" "To Mexico!" The combination of music, bread, and wine is... intoxicating. Or maybe it's just me, a.k.a. a cheap drunk.

Tonight we are determined to feast on Chiles en nogada (a seasonal specialty from Puebla), which comprises a mixture of ground beef, dried fruits, and pinenuts, stuffed into a large, mild green pepper, bathed in a creamy sauce, and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. Interestingly, none of us are meat eaters: Carol eats poultry but not beef, lamb, or fish; Ingrid´s a full-blown vegetarian at home in Germany; and I'm a pseudo-vegetarian, eating poultry, fish and seafood but no red or the "other" white meat (i.e., pork).

Carol and I are a bit squeamish about the idea of eating an entire serving of beef, so we agree to split the Chiles en nogada with an order of chicken in mole poblano (the rich, dark sauce, also originating in Puebla, that contains chocolate and numerous other ingredients). After mopping up the sauces with warm, handmade corn tortillas, I am as full as my day has been.

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