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Tacos y Amigos

Yesterday we jumped out of bed, had coffee, and were on the road before 10 am. We like to slip out before the arrival of Mari and Marcelo, so that when we come home it seems the house and yard have been magically washed and tidied, as if by Fabuloso-bearing elves. Our Saturday mornings have become rather suburban and routine, as we do errands at Costco, Home Depot and the grocery store, Superama. On the way back out of town we stopped at Gran Plaza mall food court for Subway, and it is here we met a young, English-speaking sandwich artist who wondered why we weren’t eating Mexican food. A valid question, really. Shouldn’t we be getting down at some dirty little taco stand behind a mechanic’s shop on Avenida Jacinto Canek, eating scrambled egg, chaya and calf brains on a tortilla made by a 99-year-old Mestiza? Probably. We’ve become somewhat lazy and not a little cynical lately and should probably take these last few months to dive back into the deep end of impromptu performances, street fairs, out-of-the-way cantinas, and those spontaneous interactions that make you feel more connected and optimistic about the future of humanity.
After spending the rest of the day reading, walking, planting, watering, practicing Nia and watching movies we drove back to Merida to meet friends on the Prolongnation de Montejo at around nine. We found half the group at La Musa, eating fried stuff with dipping sauces and drinking Chope, the Modelo-branded draft beer that’s sweeping the nation, and enjoying the chill in the misty night air. When the others arrived we crossed the busy street to Los Taquitos de PM, a popular sidewalk cafe filled with families, that we somehow never noticed, like the apocryphal tale of Native Americans who couldn’t recognize a European ship because they’d never seen anything like it. I think I’ve forgotten how to look here, how to see lovingly but with a critical eye the things that are interesting, unusual and worthy of further inspection. The way you watch the world when you are carrying a camera or a journal, or even without those tools are feeling stealthy and observant and insightful. It’s time to listen and smell, to use every sense to make memories that I can recall later, when I wish to remember how this time was experienced in the moment.
We never would have ventered there had it not been for our Yucatecan friends. We wouldn’t have pushed through the door at the back to discover a mirror image of the open-aired seating area, where we ate like kings and queens of Merida. It’s good to go with locals to where the locals go. On our own, had we somehow stumbled in, despite our accomplished menu Spanish and years of living here, we would have been treated as tourists. Without our guides and liaisons we would not have known that LTPM is famous for its bean botanas, a puree of frijoles charros, that I’ve never seen anywhere else. Malcolm ordered a bowl of the cowboy beans normal, pintos with gnarly bits in a savory soupy broth as well as tacos pastor, crisp and orange-pink-red like Placido Flamingo. I had taquitos suizos chile poblano con arrachera, an awesome slather of finely chopped peppers and meat on a gooey down of cheese. This was simple food, everyday stuff, but such Platonic versions that were were caught unaware. It was the kind of meal, shared with good friends, that elevates a place you once lived as outsiders to a place that was once your home, and to which you are compelled to return.

There Are 2 Responses So Far. »

  1. I think this is one of the best things you have written for our website. Bravo Yuli.

  2. I’ve just stumbled onto your set. [oops! clumsy me.] Many thanks for mentioning La Musa. We will be sure to investigate at our next visit.

    ~eric.
    http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/HatCat/

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