Monday, April 22, 2019

Chinese/Mexican street tacos

I wish I had the presence of mind to take pictures at the right time in the process of making dinner. I made these roasted chicken thigh tacos and while this looks pretty good to me, what I eventually did with them was chop them up and served them with little flour street tortillas topped with curtido (shredded cabbage pickled in lime juice) and caramelized pineapple. 

I roasted these boneless chicken thighs then dredged them in a mix of hoisin, pineapple and peach juice and the broiled them so the sauce was baked on and the skin was crispy-ish before I chopped them up.

This meal was A-1. But I hated cleaning that baking sheet with a passion.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Rising from the grave

It's Easter. I didn't dye any eggs. On the upside, I also didn't die. It seemed I might, but like the Easter miracle, I survived. Just days after I recovered from whatever unpleasant Mexican illness I returned home with, I got a second, much worse dose of something that essentially prevented me from my elaborate Easter decoration schemes and plans. It prevented me from doing pretty much anything including shaving (or writing this blog).

So I now have a 5 day growth of beard. I cannot decide if I'm on the verge of looking distinguished or homeless and possibly disreputable.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Sour orange pie

I watched Cook's Complicated make something called sour orange pie. The crust is animal crackers (whatever) and the filling is orange juice concentrate and lemon juice. Basically it's a key lime pie but for a few ingredient adjustments. I thought it would taste like creamsicles. But it did not.

Everyone raved about it but then later said, oh, uh, the key lime is better.

I didn't mind, I'd thought that myself.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Mexico final notes

I don't think I could say enough for Mexico City. It is beautiful, cultured, clean, cheap. I loved the museums, architecture, and the people were lovely. The food maybe wasn't what I wanted or expected but also maybe I just didn't go to the right places, so I'll give that issue pass.

As soon I arrived I could taste the air. It was a little sandpapery to breathe. I had a low-grade sore throat the entire time I was there and which was better immediately on leaving. It's odd to me that the Mexicans are scrupulous about how clean the city is but the air...not so much. I saw many joggers wearing face masks. I'm told the air was better than it was but while heartening it makes me wonder when it'll be safe to go back in my lifetime. I'd love to rent an apartment for a month. There is so much more to see. But not if I'm going to be breathing sandpaper.

Clothes: No one wears shorts. No one walks around in jogging clothes (Unless they are jogging). People dress nicely. I know this will go the way of America as it has in Paris where clothing used to be important. But now pants hanging off your ass, sweat pants and running shoes are now more common than tailored suits or even business casual. Baseball caps at the table, not in Mexico City. In Mexico men wear long pants and nice shoes that are polished. There are shoe shine guys all over the place. I did not bring shineable shoes but I also never wore running shoes.

Traffic: There are no stop signs and mostly not stop lights. At intersections everyone is slightly impatient but not impolite. No one blows their horn. But traffic is a mess. It's a mess in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles so I don't know why that would be shocking.

Safety: I felt safer there than anywhere I've ever been. Although the actual sidewalks are a dangerous misery. You cannot (or at least I cannot) walk and look at directions on your iPhone. That'll get you a broken leg or at the very least a smashed iPhone.

I will never trust a tour guide or guide service again.

They love their dogs but they also don't seem to mind them barking.

Soumaya, a fabulous art museum. 

Soumaya, stunning

Soumaya, incredible Mexican architecture

The Anthropological Museum....stunning, extraordinarily well designed and laid out.
It was filled with well behaved, polite teenagers who listened and asked questions.
I saw 2 teenaged boys shyly hold hands. It was so sweet.

My hotel room, actually it was an entire apartment. Jacarandas were in bloom

The Angel of Independence.

Mexican food. Some better than others.

Teotihuacán. I coulda lived without it. In fact it nearly killed me.

Museum stuff

Frida Kahlo House. Major disappointment. There's not very much to see there. It's a total zoo. 
But I really cannot imagine what she saw in this man who cheated on her incessantly 
(who would sleep with him?!), was ugly, and yet she managed to marry twice! His talent aside.

Mexican architecture. Amazing.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Booking tours, the rant

Speaking of bad tastes in my mouth. I booked 2 tours through a site called Viator which is owned by Trip Advisor. On the one hand I like Trip Advisor. They provide plenty of help in finding and selecting hotels, restaurants, interesting places to see. On the other hand, this information ruins places. I find it maddening to be in a restaurant filled with people like me. (Honestly I'd adore being in a restaurant filled with people like me. It would be so fun) But I mean, you know, Americans, you don't want to be in a restaurant in China and have a fucking bunch of loud Americans around you bitching about food (or whatever), demanding No mantiquilla...leeemon!! in a high pitched nasal voice. This from a New Yorker who was watching her weight and didn't want butter on her fish...only leeemon. The restaurant filled with seriously obnoxious Americans and then I realized I'd found it on Trip Advisor.

I have digressed. OK, Viator . . . I booked myself on a 12 hour tour of the Mexico City Markets, plus an excursion to Teo...however it's spelled—the pyramid place—followed by a "family dinner." Let's just pretend that the online description did disclose that it was a 1.5 hour trip each way, and that it did say that the trip was on a city bus. I don't think they did, but I'll just agree that they did (but they didn't, I'm just saying they did).

And here's the thing, you cannot actually speak to anybody about the itinerary. I tried to call them. They're all "we're there for you 24/7" they are not. Eventually I spoke to someone who told me I'd have to contact the local company. Whatever that means. I did call the local number but that person had no clue what I was talking about. At all.

So it started at 8:45 in the morning. It was to have been a tour but no one else signed up so I was alone. I was met near the National Cathedral by a very nice woman who told me that she was to show me the markets after which she was dumping, er, handing me off to someone else who would be taking me to Teotihuacan. I wasn't sure about being alone but I figured no matter what I probably wouldn't die.

The tour of the city markets lasted until 1:30 which is when the other tour guide finally arrived. Seriously, 20 minutes would have been good. Four hours??? What is there to see? Flowers, dead animals (oh Lord, this was not pretty or fragrant), a bunch of cheap junk. It was tedious. Then, on to the fake pyramids (see previous post). After that he took me to a little house where they made obsidian shit that I did not want to buy. And he left me there to go smoke. I didn't like being left there with people shilling their handicrafts but I was happy to escape his incessant yapping. Then on we went to the "family meal." In a group this may have been fun. But it was only him and me sitting in a dark garage-like dining room eating chilaquiles. No abuela, no niños, although there was a begging dog. But nothing like a "family dinner" after which there was nothing else except a city bus ride home. The only thing I'd have died from was the guide's nonstop nattering. He wants to be a trumpeter and has the fucked up lips to prove it.

The next day was a less lengthy tour of, as described on their website; "Frida Kahlo's home, Xochimilco, University City." Frida Kahlo's home is the reason I came to Mexico City and I booked a  not-inexpensive private tour. Now I know, as I had been there already, that Xochimilco is a good 40 minutes away from the city. How they were going to get these 3 disparate destinations into a 6 hours I didn't understand. And neither, it turned out, did the greasy, 80 year old racist that squired me around. As I said, I'd been to Xochimilco and didn't really want to go back there to party which is really what the place is, a party destination. Particularly with someone I didn't know, an 80 year old man with a fun quotient of about -7 on the horizontal axis and +F on the vertical. I don't know what the hell the point of just the 2 of us going on a party boat at 9 in the morning on a Wednesday and I think the freaking tour company should know and understand that this isn't even something they should be offering. Eventually, and I really could drag this on for a while, after he told me that the Jews live in such and such and "we don't have the blacks so crime is not a concern," I got into a fight with him where he just doubled down on his argument. I should have left. An Uber would have been $2.50. But I'd paid for tickets to Frida Kahlo. We walked for another 2 hours looking at Cortez' colonial home and some other not particularly interesting things and got to the Blue House as her home is known in time for our 1 pm entrance. At this point he decided it would be best for me to do this on my own. I was good with that, I'd had enough of him. Even though I'd FUCKING PAID FOR A PRIVATE TOUR OF FRIDA KAHLO'S HOME. I didn't care, I'd had enough. But before he left he gave me another quick speech about why he's right to be a racist and then asked for a tip.

The Frida Kahlo house was a complete disappointment. Utterly packed with people. Not that much to see. A couple beds and some paintings and photographs. And this is what possessed me to come to Mexico City.

You really can only see only so much of this sort of thing.


A freaking zoo

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Teotihuacan, the pyramids

I booked a trip to see Teotihuacan (my god these words) the ancient pyramids outside of Mexico City. On the hour and a half trip to the pyramids the guide emphatically told me that the ruins are not authentic and that I should go anywhere but here. Well, sorry, we're on the freaking bus already, amigo. He could have saved me a lot of bother if he'd just said let's not go before we left. In retrospect I'd have been totally fine with that.

It's hard to find information about this reconstruction of the pyramids as I imagine the Mexican government doesn't really like to disseminate bad news about a major tourist attraction.

The Mexican dictator Porfirio Diaz insisted that the work of uncovering these pyramids be completed in just 5 years for an international American congress and so he had Leopoldo Bartres dynamite the entire area in an attempt to uncover the recently discovered pyramids which had been pretty much completely buried in jungle and then once they were blasted to smithereens they were reconstructed. Not just the pyramids were concocted, the structures are not shaped like they were originally, but it seems that even the layout of the site is fabricated. There are bits and pieces of the original here and there and the last pyramid was uncovered only later so it is intact. Once you know this, it is easy to see. And my guide who also works the pyramid ruins in Tulum, said, on more than one occasion, actually to the point of annoyance, that every other pyramid in Mexico was excavated carefully leaving the original stucco in tact.

"Bartres's restoration of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan "grotesque vandalism . . . and . . . because scientific data might have been incorporated into many of the key dimensions, drastically distorting the original shape and size of the pyramid had possibly deprived posterity of some of the most important lessons Teotihuacan had to teach.[3]"

So there's that. It was a long day. Twelve hours. I have to admit though that I learned a lot. 

He said, to prove his point, that the little decorative stones at the bottom here in the concrete are found nowhere else and what would have been the point? These were all covered with stucco.
There is very little stucco on this site but it exists on every other one. Good to know.

Close up of fake recreation

This is some original stucco of a puma or jaguar that somehow survived. 

The hike up this nearly killed me

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Taqueria Orinoco

My nephew was in Mexico City last week and suggested this place to me. I don't know how else anyone would ever find these kinds of places. I'd walked by it a couple times and it was utterly unremarkable, except for the name which reminded me of Enya, the only reason I'd noticed the place. It was fantastic. My meal the night before was adequate and cost $50. To be fair there had been drinks, and it was "Chateaubriand-style" steak and duck tacos (and the tacos were amazing) But these tacos were twice as much food as I needed and cost $5.75. 

When I left there was a line of people waiting to get in. 

I took the the leftovers thinking I'd give them to a homeless person but there really aren't any that I can see. And I ate them for lunch today anyway.

For the record here. I am home but currently suffering from some sort of intestinal to-do and am not quite up to posting.