Maybe I’m masochistic, definitely melodramatic, but I’ve always wanted to sprint through an airport, right as the plane is about to leave, and make it — just barely. And that really happened. Our flight from Boston to Atlanta was late departing due to repairs, and we had a very small window to connect with our flight to Cozumel. I was waving my ticket in the air like a madwoman. No way was I missing the flight to paradise.
Thank god my friend Stacy is here for two weeks to help me adjust to island life. I know, how hard can it be? But right before I left Boston, I received this fortune after sushi:
The Southerner in me loves a good prediction, ominous dream, psychic, horoscope … This trip will undoubtedly, and already has, changed my life forever. But the desire? Was it ever a secret?
Settling into the condo was easy. Out of the gate, the weather was immediately stick-to-your-skin hot. The breeze is like a hair dryer. This is the weather I love. We unpacked and walked to Chedraui, one of the island’s grocery stores, for beer, limes, papaya and mango, and of course, huevos:
That night, we went out for tacos with some friends on the island. In my dire hunger, I forgot to take pictures. But they were delicious; and the hot sauces! I can honestly say one of the reasons I’ve come to Mexico is the chile.
Tuesday was overcast and hot, so we met with Antonio and went to the beach. Of course I pried his mind for Spanish words about sex. How could I not? I am learning so much about the language and the metaphors; I desperately want to participate in this clever repartee. For instance, the Spanish sandwich torta is also a word for a woman’s derrier. And chile is another word for a man’s … you know. Almost certainly, I will get myself into trouble with this.
Refreshing splash accomplished, we headed to Fish Cantina for food and beer. Cantinas are spots where, so long as you drink, they will keep bringing you food, for free. We had shrimp soup, conch ceviche, a dish involving pork throat, which tasted oddly like Chinese food… Stacy ordered more ceviche; I opted for pescado al ajo.
I’ve been getting a bit panicky about being here for two months. After a few more days, I think I can finally exhale. My condo is great, and there’s a pool and an adults-only tanning roof. You know what that means: no tan lines!
Finally, a Sunday with a purpose. Usually, I lounge about and catch up on put-off errands, but this Sunday I took a shower. I blew my hair out. I had a destination and a little black dress, too.
The dinner highlighted the cuisine of Mexico City, the birthplace of Chef Fany Gerson, author of My Sweet Mexico and Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Ice & Aguas Frescas, who was on hand to whip up some of her hometown favorites.
Of course I rallied the illustrious Tania DeLuzuriaga of The Musing Bouche, who turned up in a strapless number on one of the finer New England weekends I’ve seen. Once my name was crossed off the guest list, and I received my very own name tag (I’m a sucker for self-advertising!), Tania and I beelined to the bar, alternating between watermelon-jalapeno and hibiscus margaritas.
We ate cactus tarts, and a tuna concoction that I’m still lusting over.
While Tania ordered the shrimp, I went big with the pork belly in a smoky tomatillo sauce. Mine was definitely the superior dish.
Dessert was chocolate — I know I’m in the minority, but I’m just not a big fan. But then suddenly a ray of light and paletas were delivered. Yes, I prefer popsicles over pastry.
If you’re in Boston, the series is ongoing throughout the summer. $40 for four courses. Please, go and have a bite of Oaxaca and Puebla for me.
I’ve officially entered into the world of Mexican politics. Sort of.
A few weeks ago, I emailed around some Harvard organizations, looking for Harvardians traveling or working in the Yucatan over the summer, and who might potentially make interesting stories for the Gazette. Unknowingly, one of my emails was forwarded to Lilia Aguilar, a former state representative for Chihuahua and a student at Harvard Kennedy School.
Lilia will not be in the Yucatan — because after she graduates, she’ll resume campaigning to be a member of Mexico’s national congress. Lilia was a perfect candidate for a series of graduate profiles the Gazette runs every year in conjunction with Harvard’s Commencement. So in late April, Lilia and I met in Harvard Square for an interview; she arrived wearing a boot on her leg from an injury involving high heels. (It happens to the best of us.)
Raised in Chihuahua, Lilia grew up in cramped quarters with her mother and 20 other children who she believed to be her blood siblings. Then one day, two strangers arrived at the door — Lilia’s real parents.
And stay tuned to July 1, Mexico’s national election.
Yes, cinco de mayo has been co-opted as another drinking holiday here in the United States. It’s actually only a regional holiday in Pueblo, Mexico, held in commemoration of the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces. Still, when Tania DeLuzuriaga throws a cinco de mayo party, replete with sangria and the promise of tacos, you go.
Tania is my Harvard co-worker, friend, and wunderkind behind the food blog, The Musing Bouche. She likes food (and Mexico) as much as I do, but is way more hardcore about actually going out and getting it. She fishes, she hunts. She has skulls in her office. In essence, she is my hero.
Tania lured me with tacos — not just any tacos: braised pork belly tacos. If bacon is the perfect food, tacos may be a close second.
And enchiladas. And pastel de tres leches. And sangria. Tania knocked it out of the park. Here are some photos from my cinco de mayo, Tania style: