I went back to the big indoor market to have lunch. I had mole negro on Christmas, and this time I tried mole colorado (roja) on some enchiladas at a little stand called Comidas ¨Lupita¨. One thing that amuses me is how so many businesses put the owners name in quotation marks. Such as Carnes y Pescados ¨Miguel¨, or zapateria ¨Lulu¨. It´s almost like the name is a pseudonym. If I had a restaurant here, it might be called Enchiladas ¨Sarita¨. If that´s really my name. It´s in quotation marks so who knows!
In the market I also bought a little bag of grasshoppers. They don´t sell them at night, and I really needed a drink before I ate them, so I carried them around and was finally able to examine them after a tecate:
I took them to my hotel restaurant, where they gave me some limes and peanuts (and a mezcal) to eat them with. There was a couple from Zacatecas next to me, encouraging me. After a little mezcal, I had one. It tasted like nothing. So I had another one. This one tasted like grasshopper. I really have no reference for the taste. A little musty, earthy and definitely buggy. I sipped a little more mezcal. I´m not just making this up to be clever, the mezcal was a nice accompaniment to the ´hoppers. Mezcal is really smoky and smooth - it´s almost like they were meant to go together! Smoke and earth. I had one more. A lady my parent´s age from upstate new york was also in the restaurant. I called her over. Also a grasshopper virgin, she had three or four and I ate about 5 more. The restaurant staff also had some, and together we had a little chapulines party.
I had wondering for days (see my last post) how they were caught and fried, thinking it must be so labor intensive. I´m strangely interested in food, farming and production. Maybe because my grandfather was a cattle rancher for awhile and I grew up exposed to it. One of my favorite memories from being very young was when he took me to a livestock auction. I went to culinary school for fun and took an interesting class called ¨from farm to plate¨. I also volunteer occasionally for chef Efrain Cuevas in Chicago, who puts together underground dinner parties. Sometimes he sneaks in his uncle´s cheese from Mexico or puts a latin twist on one dish or another. I always learn something new from him. I just had to know about this grasshopper farming business!
A bilingual lady who worked at my hotel filled me in. There is a grasshopper season - mainly November, and we just missed it. They catch the grasshoppers in the cornfields in big metal cages. They are dry-grilled with lime and chiles, (not fried as I thought) and they keep for months, sort of like bug jerky. There are slats with holes, which filter out the grasshoppers into small, medium and large. I still don´t know why they are ONLY sold during the day, and never at night. Anyhow, it was a very interesting day exploring the market and trying something new.
That night, Hugh and Craig came down from la villada to join me for dinner. ¨wow, you upgraded!¨they said when they saw my new hotel. We went to an authentic posole place. I had chicken with roja broth, it had cabbage and came with fried torta shells to sprinkle in. Completely delicious!
Next we went to a local bar where there was a pool table. This pool table had no triangle, a slanted table, no 8 ball, broken pool cues and no ¨4¨balls. So we invented our own game called ¨Cinco is the Ocho¨, where we substituted the 5 for the 8, and just played with what we had. It was fun. Here I am racking up the balls with my arms instead of a triangle: