Tag Archives: roasted chicken

Mood piece

JUST CAME in from the morning walk around the plaza, and I’m in a good mood, which is the norm.

It’s common to see people in bad moods. You can see it on their faces. Some are young with their lives ahead of them while I am old and my life is mostly behind me.

No matter. I’m almost always in a good mood. Maybe because it’s too late to worry. That time has passed.

Coming in from my plaza walk, I poured a glass of green juice and sat on a rocker here on the veranda and looked around me. It was so nice I decided to share.

The camera was just inside the door, sitting on a table.

We haven’t had one hard freeze so far, which is rare. It could still happen. The peach tree would be shocked because it’s full of pink blooms, thinking it’s springtime.

You’d think that plants and weather would be better coordinated, that they’d have meetings or something.

I shot the video for you, my internet amigos. It’s both a mood piece and a brag piece. It illustrates what’s possible with a little planning, a modicum of money and courage.

As I type this, a couple of hours later, my child bride is downstairs frying chiles, the punch of which is wafting upstairs and almost bowling me over. That happens.

You sauté raw chiles, and you’ve got a fight on your hands.

She’ll dump them in the pot of beans that will accompany the roasted chicken on the menu for lunch.

Roasted chicken, beans and rice are good for the mood.

Beautiful day

new-image
Side dish of orchid* with morning croissants.

VALENTINE’S DAY is one of our anniversaries. It marks the day we began living together, and that was in my child bride’s condo in Mexico City in 2002.

We made it legal a bit more than two months later, a civil ceremony held in the interior patio of her sister’s coffee shop here on the mountaintop.

While February is normally one of the coldest months hereabouts, this year so far is an exception. We have not had one freeze. A bit of frost last month, but that was it.

We aren’t out of the woods, and we can’t see the light at the tunnel’s end, but I detect a candle glow down there.

Just this morning, I finished the culling of dead plants from the yard, stuff nailed by those January frosts. It all rests in a greenish pile in the Garden Patio, and I’ll hire Abel the Deadpan Neighbor to haul it away very soon.

My lovely wife seems finally to be recovering from a nasty cold caused by her being phoned at 1 a.m. last Thursday as the wake for our nephew began. Yes, 1 a.m. Who starts a wake at 1 a.m.? Mexicans do. Sometimes.

The wake was held on the street with bonfires outside the nephew’s humble home. It was cold and smoky.

She had not slept the previous night either due to spending it at the nephew’s hospital bedside in the state capital. She was mostly awake for 48 hours. Who wouldn’t get sick?

But today things appear to be returning to normal. It’s a beautiful anniversary day,  air is cool, sky is blue, and we’ll lunch on roasted chicken, beans and rice.

* * * *

* Orchid courtesy of the Cotton family who recently visited the mountaintop.

Twelve things

  1. After two miserable weeks, my cold finally cured itself, and I’m my usual vigorous self. I wonder if these things hang on longer as one ages. Probably.
  2. An insane woman has been walking our neighborhood for a year or two. She seems to be in constant motion, and at times she lets out an angry, blood-curdling scream.
  3. We’re deep into miserable Springtime. Campesinos set fire to the countryside, an annual event, and black soot descends on the Hacienda. It’s a constant sweeping challenge, and sweeping soot is like herding butterflies.odds&ends
  4. We have two definite restaurant days: Thursday and Sunday. That doesn’t mean we can’t eat out on other days too because we can, but we usually don’t.
  5. There is one exception to No. 4, but I don’t really consider it eating out. It’s more of a convenience. On Saturdays, my wife is quite busy baking for her afternoon pastry sale. Before we head downtown with the goodies, we eat roasted chicken at a very humble place near the Hacienda.
  6. Heidi Cruz won’t be First Lady next year. Dang! Seems the Slovenian hussy will be. Or Slick Willy. Lordy!
  7. Former Mexican President Fox said nasty stuff about Trump a few months back, but now he’s apologized and invited Trump to Mexico to get to know us better.
  8. May is the final month to prepare the yard for the summer deluges. I’ll be hiring Abel the deadpan neighbor in a few days to cut and haul lots of stuff away. I want the yard in fighting trim before the floods arrive.
  9. Spring is the only good season for short-sleeved shirts. My pants, however, remain the same all year. Blue jeans.
  10. I’ll be 72 this summer. I’m noticing an occasional unsteadiness in my walk, wobbly-like. This is relatively new, and I do not like it one little bit.
  11. With every passing year, I like Mexico more. Not having been in the United States for seven years now, and not having lived there in 16, I’m forgetting what Gringo life is like. From what I read, perhaps that’s for the best.
  12. According to an article in The New York Times, bilingual people are less likely to get goofy with age. ¡Bueno!

Saturday chicken

chicken

A COUPLE OF WEEKS ago, our favorite roast-chicken joint changed ownership. We lunched there virtually every Saturday for four years before heading downtown to sell our tasty pastries on the big plaza.

The new management had changed enough stuff that we decided to go elsewhere. That’s elsewhere you see in the photo. It is not Antoine’s or Galatoire’s, but the chicken is quite good.

It’s humble, to state it mildly. It sits next to a tire-fixing business and almost under a pedestrian overpass crossing the highway that heads to the state capital 40 minutes away. This place likely has a name, but I can’t tell you what it is. After four years at the previous restaurant, I can’t tell you its name either.

I don’t care about such stuff. I only care about the grub. My friend Don Cuevas, who writes a very good blog, can tell you the name of the previous place, and the names of the owners too. He’s a detail man and sociable, unlike me. He also once said the previous joint was the best restaurant in town, which was quite silly.

How can a restaurant that has only one item on the menu be the best restaurant in town? It did, however, serve some mighty fine roasted chicken. At times, Cuevas slips into hyperbole.

Roasted-chicken outlets are enormously popular in Mexico, and they are all over the place, almost on every corner. It may be one of the best reasons to live here. Roasted chicken rivals tacos.

There are basically three ways in which they are served, and the term roasted may not be strictly correct, but I use it as a catchall term because, again, I don’t really care about details. Cuevas knows the details.

Our previous Saturday eatery cooked chicken on a barbecue grill. A second popular way to prepare “roasted chicken” is on a huge, horizontal, revolving spit. The third style is what you see in the photo above. The young man is looking into a bottomless, metal box on the ground. Inside are chickens skewered upright on sticks that are stuck vertically into the dirt surrounded by hot coals. This style is less juicy than the other two methods.

Against the back wall is a homemade wood-burning stove atop which tortillas are cooked after the dough is smashed flat with a hand-pushed tortilla smasher. Rice is prepared there too. The old woman who does all this is off to the left at the moment. She’ll be right back. Click the photo for a closer look.

This roasted-chicken joint may well become our permanent Saturday replacement for the old spot. We don’t know yet — jury’s still out. The chicken-on-a-stick style is my least-preferred of the three methods, but it’s still quite good. And, God knows, these people need our dough. It’s a family business, and they’re neighbors.

Little blessings

 

Blessed

PLENTY OF LITTLE gifts come with living on this mountaintop.

1. Roasted chicken. Mexico is associated with tacos, burritos, margaritas, sunsets, severed heads, etc., but what you may not know is the abundance of tasty, roasted chickens. Seems there is a roasted chicken joint on every block. Yum!

2. Shrimp cocktails. Almost as numerous as roasted chicken joints are sidewalk shrimp cocktails. Our little plaza downtown is lined on three sides with stands that sell shrimp cocktails and related stuff. Stupidly, I lived here about five years before I became a believer. I was a nervous nellie. I thought: seafood from a street stand? I finally wised up and grew a pair. Those were five wasted years, amigo.

3. Great shirts. Only about two years ago I started to purchase the used previously enjoyed, name-brand shirts sold in dark corners of the downtown market. Nautica, Hilfiger, Lands End, Chaps, Ralph Lauren, etc. I really don’t know if they are used or new, perhaps unloaded from hijacked semis above the Rio Bravo. No matter. For about $7 each, you can gad about in style.

4. Lemon ice. Just as good as the product from Angelo Brocato’s in New Orleans where my daughter once worked, it’s sold at street stands on our big plaza. I didn’t drag my feet on the lemon ice like I did shrimp cocktails. I’ve been slurping that lemon ice for years.

5. Shoe shines. For just a buck-fifty on the small plaza, you can see your face in those boots, brother.

6. Car washes. Fellows on the big plaza will sparkle your car for $2.75.

7. Cool June air. Okay, it’s not quite June, but almost, and the air will be cool. It will stay that way all summer.

8. Here at home. Orchids blooming in the peach tree and the sweet smell of golden datura sneaking through the bedroom window at night.

Little blessings here on the mountaintop.

Remains of the day

Train

THIS DAY DAWNED gray and cold. Upstairs, reading the morning’s ever-grim news from above the Rio Bravo, I shivered, and it was not simply the weather’s chill.

I heard the approaching freight train, so I picked up the Kodak Easyshare and stepped out to the terraza on the second floor and snapped this shot.

After doing exercise on the gym set across the room, the hour of 8 was upon me, so downstairs I went, calling out — as I always do — Let’s eat!   The cry is echoed back to me from the bedroom where my child bride is either still in bed, reading, or making it. The bed, that is.

I serve everything at that hour. The bagels, the cream cheese, the coffee, plus I set the plates and knives out, napkins too. I do it all, not being a real Mexican man who simply waits to be coddled.

After my child bride gets pinto beans boiling, we bundle up a bit, and walk 20 minutes around the nearby plaza. On our return, we sit on the downstairs terraza. I drink fresh orange juice squeezed before we departed, and she peels and eats a grapefruit, unsugared, which is just one step shy of sucking a lemon.

Women can be hard to figure.

Sitting there, we phone the propane company down the highway. Our tank is near empty. We’re told the truck will be here ahorita, which literally means pretty soon, but which actually means someday before you die.

Chores begin. I sweep the upstairs terraza and the service patio off the kitchen. I do some updates on the computer during the sweeps. I take a shower and dress. The propane delivery still has not arrived, but then I have not died yet. No matter. We have enough for many days more.

It’s almost time for Second Breakfast, which arrives at 11 a.m. I am scrubbed and installed in fresh clothes. My hair is combed, and I smell pretty good.

The ninth of April has not arrived at noon, but that’s all you get today. The remains must remain a mystery. I will say this much: Pinto beans and roasted chicken. Espresso on the plaza.

And the sun is now shining.