Another evening of socializing last night. Two Saturday evenings in a row. Unbelievable. An escort was needed for a friend of Lorraine down from Dallas for a visit, a delightful lady who runs human resources for the Hooter's Restaurant chain. She makes a very decent living. I got the nod.
Please do not ask that question. We are above that here.
The evening started with a late afternoon dinner at the home of Lorraine, a highly cultured French Canadian lady who owns a home here and a home in Montréal and a cottage somewhere in the rural province. I say “highly cultured” with a straight face, I assure you. She was an incredibly warm hostess. I have met her because, luckily, she has a weakness for jazz musicians, and her latest jazz musician happens to be a friend of mine.
I believe that I made myself welcome enough to be invited again, at which time I will ask permission to photograph her home. Let me keep my fingers crossed. This is the one, folks. This is the home you would wish to inhabit here in San Miguel. Beautifully appointed and so comfortable a living space. Full of original art, not prints. Lush garden surrounding the large patio in back. Sunken living room. Gracious living in spades.
Table for six. Lorraine has taken cooking instruction in Bangkok and elsewhere. She served Thai Shrimp, which had shredded cabbage, I believe it was, sautéed in something and mixed with the shrimp. There were also some specially prepared chicken nuggets difficult of description. Suffice it to say that they were not Chicken McNuggets®. The bread to die for was there, too, of course. However, the spread provided was unusual. It was Camembert cheese that had been baked with thin slices of apple on top. Lastly, there were served wedges of cantaloupe wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto. I seldom list out a menu. This one was deceptively simple and extraordinary, however.
We then moved on by convoy of two cabs to the fundraiser for the Festival Internacional de Jazz & Blues coming up here. That was a bust because of a steady rain. However, the band did play one set, which was of a surprising quality.
Now a party of eight, we moved on by convoy of two cabs to the classic Harry's New Orleans Café & Oyster Bar, where we temporarily became a party of ten with three tables pushed together. There is a Facebook page if you are interested. Later in the evening it is a body exchange for older people--a meat market with meat that is turning. They put their new cosmetic surgery to the test there. Some of the best people watching in town is available.
I have yet to dine at Harry's. That will be a special occasion reserved for a special occasion. The bar area features classic Frank Sinatra, Peggy Lee, and the like over a sound system that did not feature bullhorns. There was mixed in some classic Billy Joel and others of that ilk. Great sing along stuff.
The host, his name is Bob but everyone calls him Harry, kept eying me. Bob (Harry) is a displaced American, impeccably groomed, impeccably dressed. He is a boisterous and charming guy who regularly leads group dances or sing-alongs. Finally, he came over and introduced himself. It soon become apparent that he was convinced that I was from some famous Southern Rock band. I did not disabuse him of that, much to the delight of my companions who played along perfectly.
I must admit that I looked pretty good last night. It took me about two and a half or three hours of self-renovation in the early afternoon to prepare myself physically for all this. Purchasing a new blazer at the store in the morning, then cleaning up unwanted hair on my ears and in my nose, tending to that hair which is still wanted, trimming the beard, scraping the tartar off my teeth with a small jackknife, scenting myself carefully, polishing the brown loafers, choosing my remaining ensemble--I selected the high end Tommy Bahama Tee to go under the blazer, accessorizing the whole thing for effect, and on and on. Big news! My hair is now long enough finally that it all stays tied back when I tie it back. This is a development of immense significance and came just in time.
Now again a party of eight, we walked the short distance to what my veteran companions characterized as a classic Mexican dive. Benjamino's. It was no dive exactly, but it was certainly classically Mexican, if I am yet in any position to judge, but quite large by Mexican standards. We were the only gringos present, a situation that nearly always bodes well. This will be the last joint in the world to put up a web site.
It featured two different guitarist/singers performing in what I would call the Ranchera style to distinguish it from mariachi. Very dramatic stuff, but also many of the tunes were lighthearted. The tables full of young Mexicans sang along with many of the tunes in high voice, some of them featured with an impromptu solo now and again. It was a wonderful experience.
The conversation was top notch throughout the evening, beginning to end, which for me now is the acid test.
Here is a sample of something similar to Ranchera or whatever it was that I heard last evening. Chavela Vargas is a very famous singer here. This music video features Santa Frida Kahlo and the assassination of Leon Trotsky, something one does not often see in a music video. Big time drama.