Monday, August 19, 2019
the full mexican
I am rather particular about my dining choices.
If I go out to dinner with someone, I am looking forward to scintillating conversation. After all, that is the reason we get together. To learn from one another. To develop personal relations.
What I do not want on those evenings is to dine somewhere featuring a band with its eccentric version of "Proud Mary" with the volume loud enough that I cannot hear any of the wisdom my dining partner is imparting. Fortunately, there are a number of local restaurants who respect their customers' desires to actually hear one another.
But there are nights when I want a Full Mexican. Good Mexican food combined with ear-splitting trumpets and singers who capture the ennui of love won and lost. When that mood hits me (and it does, now and then), I head off to El Manglito on the lagoon in Barra de Navidad -- where you can get all of that, along with an occasional professional dance couple. I usually celebrate my birthday there.
El Manglito is one of those places that has expanded with its success. As long as I have been going there, a part of its more informal past was evidenced by the placement of its kitchen.
The seating area is on the lagoon side of the street -- with one of the best views in town. But, the small kitchen has been across the street. Its size and location slowed down the order-to-plate-on-table time.
I suspect that did not cut into the place's trade. Most people go to El Manglito for the total ambiance, not for fast food. (Impatience over waiting for food seems to be another of those cultural chasms between northerners and Mexicans.)
I found the waiters carrying hot dishes while dashing between passing cars to be a bit charming. It evoked a simpler time in Barra.
But that sight is about to end.
The owners have been re-modeling the front of the restaurant for most of the year. The bathrooms had been moved from the north side of the building to the south a couple of years ago. And a new façade was added this summer.
I now know why. That portion of the palapa is now devoted to a kitchen so modern that even Gordon Ramsey would be challenged to complain. (Of course, he would, just out of spite.) I suspect service time will be cut appreciably.
After watching the completing touches being added to the kitchen, I am not certain what I think about the new arrangement. Barra de Navidad is not Puerto Vallarta, where restaurants rely on churning customers to maximize profits. El Manglito, like most Mexican restaurants here, are happy to rent their tables as long as diners want to enjoy them. No rush. No push.
I have not been eating away from the house very much for the last year. And I have not been to El Manglito for an even longer time because my favorite waiters (Roto, German, and Christian) are no longer there.
But that sparkling stove is an enticement. Maybe I should celebrate my birthday twice this year. It is the prerogative of the aging.