Sunday, September 23, 2012

smiles and pot pie

Someone once told me Pátzcuaro was not a friendly town.

Of course, someone says that about each town.  Whoever it was, was definitely wrong.

I have always felt part of
Pátzcuaro whenever I visit.  On this trip, I have been greeted by name each day by people I have not seen in well over a year. 

And people on the street are always free with greetings.  Even those who do not want to sell me a woven straw fan.

Today’s celebrations started with a bike race.  Seeing all of those bicycles in one spot felt a little bit odd.  The day before I had noted the complete lack of bicycle traffic in the centro area.  And, considering the erratic traffic, I understand why.

I was merely walking through the waiting cyclists with my camera and several participants started mugging to have their photograph taken.  My favorite was the guy wearing the green shirt at the top of this post.

Saturday seems to be wedding day in
Pátzcuaro.  As it is in many towns.  I ran into several.  But I want to save all that for a post of its own.

Instead, I headed back to the cultural center.  Having discovered the second floor, I wanted to take a look at exhibits I missed last week.

But, even before I got to the door, I found an exhibit of its own on the center’s lawn.

For a moment, I thought a road show of Hair was passing through town.  I think this group is attempting to perform a Purépecha ceremony.  Even though their rhythm abilities were distinctly Andover white boy.

Before I headed upstairs, I visited the mask exhibit again.  They fascinate me.  Probably because it touches that primordial human urge to have the power to remake oneself merely by donning a magic mask.  Even though it didn’t work very well for Don Juan.

I like to give the masks nicknames.  This one is Pinocchio meets Ziggy.

As for this guy, I will let you guess what Steve Cotton may call him.  I can be discreet in my writing.  At times.

It turns out there is a large exhibition room for local paintings.  Unfortunately, they are all covered with glass, and the room is ablaze with sunlight.  As a result, it is impossible to view any of the paintings in their totality.

The reason the lighting does not complement the art is easy to deduce.  This center probably runs on an annual budget less than the daily lighting bill for one room in the Louvre.  If that.

I was just happy to see that good art is available to the public in this small town.

The festival had scheduled three traditional dances in various plazas in the afternoon.  Even though I could not avoid stopping to see to watch the very essence of touristy stops in town -- the old men dance.  The contrast between the young dressed as the old entertaining the young and beautiful summed up how my day was going.

Having partially filled my festival tank, I decided to play cultural hooky and headed off to a late lunch at a restaurant that was highly recommended  by Felipe.  He told me the chicken pot pie was excellent.

And he was correct.  Esquina del Sol is not easy to find.  Without being driven there on my first day here, I probably would have wandered astray.

And that would have been a shame.  The chicken pot pie was the best I have ever eaten.

It is baked fresh in a bowl with a paper thin crust on top.  The gravy was rich and creamy.  With a mixture of diced vegetables -– each with a small burst of flavor freshness that makes you wonder why frozen vegetables exist.

The pot pie came with a choice of lentil or chicken soup.  I had the chicken.  It was perfectly light.  Again with barely crisp fresh vegetables.

The owner (from Arkansas) and a local couple from Nicaragua (by way of San Francisco, Miami,and Mexico City) easily met the local friendliness standard.  We cosmopolitan four spent our time chatting and laughing as if we had known one another for years.  So much for unfriendly

I could have ended the day right there.  But there was another concert tonight.  This time a trio.  A pianist.  A violinist.  And a soprano.  From Zamora.

There was nothing folkloric about them.  Their ballads were as sophisticated as a Cole Porter house party. 

It was the type of latino music that you imagine being performed in a 1950s Manhattan night club.  With Chanel-draped and
Fabergé-bejeweled socialites syncopating their way across the dance floor.

Happily, there was no amplification to interfere with the performance.  Merely pure voice, piano, and violin.  Melting the soul on an avenue through the mind.

And, for me, the best part of the concert was the fact that all of the songs were new to me with the exception of B
ésame Mucho and Granada.  Two standards everyone knows.

I realize
Pátzcuaro is in the middle of one of its big festivals.  But I think I could enjoy spending more time here.  A town that has retained some of its Indian heritage mixed with Midwestern congeniality. 

And culture that is accessible.

Not a bad mix.


jennifer rose said...

Where is the chicken pot pie restaurant, and why hasn't Don Cuevas said anything about it?

Steve Cotton said...

I will talk with him about it this afternoon.

Felipe Zapata said...

Best chicken pot pie on the face of the earth. Really. At the glorieta outside the Bodega Aurrera, you can go in a number of directions. If you are arriving at the glorieta from the Libramiento, you pass the stoplight that is directly ahead, not the one that takes you left and on toward Morelia, but the one straight ahead, hook around the glorieta and go up the far street between a new housing development on your right and a hotel on your left.

Go to the first corner and turn left. A block or two on you will see a dinky little sign that points toward a hotel. Follow that, and a little farther on you will see another dinky little sign pointing to the restaurant, La Esquina del Sol. You go up a very rough and rudimentary street to get there. Be on your left. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Open for breakfast, lunch and supper.

Wonderful place to sit on the terraza and relax, and relax you will need to do because the primary drawback to the restaurant is that it's a tad pokey. But well worth the wait, especially if you order that chicken pot pie. Yum!!!!

Nita said...

They may be touristy, but I loved the Los Viejos!!

Mommy with Commuter Husband said...

I was just about to type the exact same comment!!

DonCuevas said...

It's behind and above Villas Pátzcuaro, following Calle "El Reventón". The restaurant is just before reaching La Casa En El Bosque B&B.

This G-Map location should be close, if not spot on. 

I withhold any critical comments at this time.

Saludos, Don Cuevas

John Calypso said...

Steve - I have learned that reviewing restaurants in the town you live in can be detrimental to ones well being - better to critic when traveling. I know this seems to be cowardly - but anything other than a rave review will potentially lead to problems.

Steve Cotton said...

In Melaque, the restaurant owners are fine with negative reviews.  It is the expatriates who take umbrage when their favorite spot is discovered to be a nude emperor,

Steve Cotton said...

As cynically as I write about them, you will note that I never fail to watch, photograph, and write about them.  There is always a new twist with each performance.  In this case,the young newlyweds.

Steve Cotton said...

The good din needs to try the pot pie.  I may have another before I head back to the beach. 

John Calypso said...

I'm curious as to how you would know, "
In Melaque, the restaurant owners are fine with negative reviews."?

My experience is the Mexican does not take criticism well - best to just stay away from that. Obviously your experience is different.

Steve Cotton said...

 By conversation.  They see what I write because I include links on our local message board.  The next time they see me, they simply laugh -- knowing that it is merely an opinion.  And that all of the restaurants in our area are generally of  the same class.  In other words, they do not affect business.

Shannon Casey said...

I agree that Esquina Del Sol is a great little restaurant. Sadly it appeared just before we moved. Don't go there if you are in a hurry (which I am usually not) but the food and ambiance is terrific.

Unfortunately the culture in Patzcuaro is not always as accessible as you may think. Between the large festivals and celebrations, like Day of the Dead and Easter, the wonderful cultural events you have described sort of dry up. I admit, though, that it seems to have more to offer now than in the past. 

I am pleased about this because I think that, ultimately, we will end up back there at some point.

Steve Cotton said...

The restaurant fits into my eating habits.  Wen I eat out, I am prepared to spend at least two hours sharing life with friends.

By the way, I am following your lunch choice recommendation at Lupita's today.