24 March 2010
Sunday I had the opportunity to dine at an amazing establishment called Restaurante Arroyo in the Tlalpan district of Mexico City, the world's largest single Mexican restaurant. The Arroyo specializes in barbacao, barbecue Mexican style.
The place is full of music. It has its own small bullring. Its own cock pit. It is huge. The video at the restaurant's website will give you some idea of the place and its cooking methods. In the video you will see vans with the word itacate on the side, a strictly Mexican word that in one sense is used to refer to a doggy bag. These vans carry out loads of food for private parties that the Arroyo caters.
Notice that the guy in the video draws a cross in the soil, or whatever it is, that is used to cover the meat in the pit.
In the video you will also see a young woman rolling out some brown sauce. You will then see it being poured over fowl. That is mole, which comes in different flavors. The classic here in Mexico is a mixture of unsweetened chocolate, various dried chili peppers, dried nuts such as almonds and peanuts, and sesame seeds. It is one of those things that sounds awful but is absolutely delicious.
It is the small touches that count though. This gentlemen came table side with his trained canaries. When he opened the door of the cage, a canary emerged and one by one pulled little horoscopes out of a box for each of those of us at the table. That is La Mexicana's grandson, Brenden, admiring the whole operation.
Mexican horoscopes are not the sappy, feel-good horoscopes of the sort to which we have become accustomed with, say for example, the modern fortune cookie. These horoscopes bluntly tell you where you are screwing up and what you had better do to correct it. They then graphically describe the consequences for you if you do not.