Friday, August 12, 2011

Revenge of the Animals (Mexico City, Mexico)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

What is going on with me?

Simple answer: Mexico is a difficult place in which to be a pseudo-vegetarian. I've given up and in.

I join the crowd sitting at tables set up in front of a doorway on Calle Regina. This morning's breakfast is a savory consomme with chickpeas and rice and a tasty taco of barbacoa (sheep or mutton!), to which I add cilantro, salsa, raw onions, pickled yellow and green peppes, and lime juice. No coffee here, so I take several giant steps to the Cafe Emir (on the corner of Isabel la Catolica and Regina). I don't know what possesses me to order a medium-strength coffee. I need diesel to fortify me for the day ahead.

After spending several hours on the Internet, I stroll over to Celaya, Mexico City's most famous candy store (according to the guide books). There are lots of intriguing sweets, but WHERE'S THE CHOCOLATE???? I run into fellow United Statian and hotel mate Jim, who buys a bag of what little chocolate items they sell. The verdict is "thumbs down," so we look for and find another sweets shop. Alas, although they carry a wider selection of chocolates, they all look ancient and unappealing. We resolve to get the scoop on the city's source from Ingrid, who's been coming here since the early 80's and will surely know where to direct us.

We walk through the Zocalo, where we split paths. I wander into the maze of streets surrounding the market near this historic central plaza. Thousands of vendors tout their wares, yelling the virtues of what they're selling to lure in us passersby. Thousands of us plow through the crowded streets and through piles of clothing, toys, pocketbooks, perfumes, and other merchandise. I am tempted by some fabulous little hat-hair pins, decorated in feathers and sequins. And the scarves. And the food. I resist everything but the candies, buying one block of amaranth studded with raisins and pumpkin and sesame seeds, another of peanuts united by honey or another sweetener, and a disc of caramelized nuts (3 for 10 pesos). No, they're not chocolate, but they will satisfy my sweet teeth.

I practically trip over the Museum of Jose Luis Cuevas (Academia 13, Centro Histórico). Cuevas' art is the stuff of dark thoughts and nightmares. He depicts people as deformed and monstruous. Lucky for me, there's a concert of sacred music taking place here, so I am serenaded by ethereal voices as I roam through the exhibitions. I develop a crush on the male soloist, a tenor. The crush fades whenever he stops singing.

Continuing my meat-marathon, I lunch on pork, Yucatan style -- a juicy taco of cochinita pibil (Here's a recipe, if you want to try it at home:
I must confess that I am enjoying my carnivorousness, but -- animals can heave a sigh of relief! -- I don't intend to keep eating this way when back in the States.

Back at the hotel, I prepare for an afternoon of dancing in the park. Gerardo is going to accompany me. He'll take salsa lessons, while I dance to son cubano.
I'm running late due to my unexpected foray into the museum, but I wouldn't keep my friend waiting had I not inserted a contact lens into my eye with a finger that still held traces of lunch's chili peppers. Ouch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I think the animals I've eaten have taken their revenge.

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