I love Taco Bell. The Crunchwrap Supreme, in my opinion, with it’s gooey/crunchy burrito/tostada fusion, is one of the best fast-food creations of all time (beans instead of meat, for me). However, when Karen and I make a run for the boarder this week, it won’t be in pursuit of the perfect combination of Big Bell Value Menu items. No, we’re destined for a Mexican honeymoon getaway – a brief sojourn to the temple of the sun – and guacamole guns or reconstituted refried bean powder won’t likely find their way into the authentic meals that Rick Bayless has gotten our mouths watering for.
This post is not intended to be a brag nor am I naïve of my many privileges in life. Rather, I want to share some of my upcoming adventures, because I can’t stand to see really fortunate experiences go only fleetingly appreciated and ultimately forgotten. Just as I’ve sampled a white winter truffle vicariously through Veronica’s blog, you too will be able to visit Mexico’s culinary corners and all points picante through the stories that Karen and I will share here upon our return. In the meantime, let me give you a preview of our destinations.
Anyone who knows me would guess that I was going to Mexico City to support that country’s “legitimate president,” Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador by camping out in the zocalo (city center square). Actually, it’s just cheaper to fly into and out of than anywhere else in Mexico (aside from the resort towns, which we are avoiding altogether). Our stay begins with a couple days in the gay district, called Zona Rosa. Hopefully, we’ll make a trip to see the home of Frieda Kahlo and Diego Rivera in Coyoacan as well. If the political protests turn into an impromptu street-party, que sera sera.
My step-brother, David, lives on the outskirts of Veracruz, near the beach, with his wife Karina, and two sons Dylan and Andrew. They met in California’s bay area (where I was born!), but cannot relocate to the states because the US government has banned Karina from US residency and seems determined to tear apart their family and many others. Of course, they are fighting against this injustice. But in the meantime, Karen and I are taking our blossoming family to theirs in Veracruz to solidify the connection and enjoy some Mexican hospitality. I’ve been saving up all of my questions about tortilla and tamale making for our three day stay when I can see how it’s actually done in an actual Mexican kitchen. Of course, the beach will be a nice diversion and pescado veracruzana is bound to be my kinda entree.
Our original plan was to head to Oaxaca. But, what with all the political upheaval, there did not seem to be a way to have a honeymoon experience that was both safe and ethical. So, in Karen’s research, she found an alternative in Puebla.
Some people call Puebla the culinary capitol of Mexico, but most identify it with mole poblano, that rich and savory sauce that few Mexican restaurants bother to attempt for gringo audiences. We were partly lured to Puebla thanks to a NY Times report that also includes this short but stunning movie. This part of our stay will likely be the sweetest part of the honeymoon as we’re staying at a beautiful and romantic hotel, Meson Sacristia. These pitures that look like watercolor paintings come from the hotel. It’s also mentioned in the linked movie as having some of the best mole in Puebla. In truth, Karen and I aren’t completely sure that we even like mole, but what we’ve had tasted intriguing and complex enough to convince us that we need to go to the source and see what all the fuss is about. This charming hotel also features a cooking school and we’ll be getting a lesson over breakfast during our stay.
So, that’s the teaser just as we’re leaving. I think I’ve provided enough extra reading to hold you over until we get back. My last bit is just a confessional narrative. From an early age, I have maintained that chips and salsa was my favorite food. Then, I discovered 7-Layer dip. Eventually, I came to believe that any food served inside of a tortilla was better than any food sans tortillas. Today, I am branching out in my appreciation for Mexican and Southwest foods, trying to make my own tortillas, tone down the overbearing spice mixtures, and emphasize the goodness found in simply presenting fresh ingredients (maybe with a touch of lime). During this trip, I expect to open up my palate and my mind to entire worlds of cuisine and cultures that I had previously been ignorant about. And foremost, “thinking outside the bun,” I aim to enjoy the love of my wife Karen in a neighboring country that is increasingly undeniably relevant to everyday life here in the US.
the early (usually calm and harmonious) period of a relationship; business or political