Saturday, April 12, 2014
the incredible and edible mexico city
Where else but in Mexico City could I start the morning stuffing pork rinds in my mouth and end the day with kimchi? It is a grand place.
Each day this week, I either walked or taxied over to Lupe and Alex's hotel to join them on our own version of Mr. Toad's Wild ride to the eye clinic. Our usual routine is to wait for the doctor to arrive. She spends about a half-hour with Lupe, and the three of us break for an hour and a half or so for breakfast-lunch. Lupe then spends about two more hours with the doctor while we wait.
We have been eating at a little Mexican diner for each of our clinic meals. The food is nothing special, but it is good. And filling. Not to mention inexpensive. The most we have spent for the three of us is $189 (Mx). In Mexico City.
This morning I decided to throw caution to the wind and have a traditional Mexican breakfast -- chicharrón in salsa verde. Put that way, it sounds exotic. Alex's description, though, was far more direct. "Strips of fried pig skin."
Yup. I had fried pork rinds for breakfast. But the sauce does the same thing to the rinds as it does to tortilla chips in chilaquiles -- reduces it to a slightly gelatinous product. Despite that description, it was quite good.
Today, Lupe's second round with the doctor was going to last three hours. The eye has been chosen, but the artist now needs to add personal touches to make the prosthesis look like her other eye.
Alex and I decided to do some guy stuff. There is a museum dedicated to the countries who have interfered with Mexico's sovereignty -- museo de las intervenciones. The big draw for me was to see the throne of Agustin de Iturbide. Mexico's first emperor following independence. But it had been moved -- to the exhibit at the Chapultepec castle.
On the other hand, we did get to see a museum dripping with some of Mexico's worst moments. The museum is located in a former convent that served as a fort during the Mexican-American war. You can still see bullet holes on the exterior wall. Painstakingly preserved I might point out. Some wounds are not designed for healing.
But it did give me an opportunity to greet some of my favorite characters from Mexican military history.
Starting with the turncoat Agustin de Iturbide, who settled for glory and a firing squad rather than retiring to his farm after the war. We didn't get to see his throne, but we did see his saber.
Then, there was that old scoundrel Santa Anna. A man who gave away half of his country to the Americans to save his own hide. Only to end up giving rambling speeches in old age to paid audiences. In this painting, he is probably showing the Americans the best spots for cattle ranching.
As a side note, Santa Anna's artificial leg is exhibited at Chapultepec castle -- probably next to Iturbide's throne.
Or, the man who brought peace, order, and prosperity to Mexico, only to squander it for dictatorial powers. Porfirio Diaz.
I found it a bit odd that Diaz was celebrated in a rather objective way. Usually, he is portrayed as the very essence of evil -- at least, by the side that won the Revolution.
But nothing topped the death mask of the Emperor Maximilian -- fresh from his date with a Juarez-ordered firing squad.
I could have stayed longer, but we needed to get back to the clinic to check on Lupe's progress. And progress there was. Her artificial eye has been painted. It now needs to dry. On Monday, we will return to have it installed. On Tuesday, we will fly to Melaque.
But the day was not done. I had given Alex my guide book to peruse. I wanted him to choose something he wanted to do. And he chose what any 19-year old male would choose -- the wax museum and Ripley's museum.
Ripley's museums are eccentric no matter where they are located. But this one was obviously attuned to the grotesque.
My experience is that most Mexicans are thrilled to see the oddities of life. Like brains being drilled out of Egyptian mummies.
Or a horn growing out of a Chinaman's head.
Or a human bone used as a flute.
But it was the wax museum that we enjoyed the most. Probably because it was set up to allow viewers to not just gape, but to also mingle with the wax celebrities.
Such as Ricky and Frank who greeted us at the door. Not to mention, Alex. (But, I guess I just did.)
Intermingling was a bit unnerving. I almost expected Octavio Paz to rise from his chair to discuss how his co-exhibits were simply wearing masks.
My favorite, though, (because I have never left my teens when it comes to kitschy entertainment) was the Chamber of Horrors. And only in Mexico could grade school children have the times of their lives amongst the gruesome.
And then I was off to dinner at a Kim-recommended restaurant. (From whom other than a Kim would you accept advice about matters Korean?)
My experience in Mexico is that ethnic food does not translate very well. Pizza and Chinese buffets leading the parade. But Kim said it was good.
And he did not steer me wrong. For all I know the place is a front for North Korean intelligence operations. If so, they serve up good grub to fellow travelers. A lot of it. All of this was for me.
There was enough on the table for four people. I left enough for two.
So, there you are. Another full day.
Just wait what we have in store for you tomorrow.