Mexico Cooks! has often pondered the 21st Century way we meet one another: via social networking websites like Facebook or MySpace, via common-interest web boards, and via personal matchmaking sites. The current phenomenon of being the friend of a person halfway across the world, a person one will perhaps never meet face-to-face, is the electronic version of my sixth grade pen-pal: a boy I never met, but whose life was loosely entwined with mine for more than 30 years. Jean-Pierre, are you reading this?
Bob writes a marvelous blog about--well, as Bob says, "It's a little like the old TV show Seinfeld. It's a blog about nothing." That's his take on it, but Mexico Cooks! thinks that Bob's blog is about the really good stuff: the inconsequential trivia of life in Mexico that adds the chile, sal y limón (chile, salt, and lime) to daily fare, that adds cultural literacy to your more general knowledge of Mexico. Want to know the origin of the ultra-Mexican expression 'chupar faros'? Bob wrote a great column about that, just a year ago. Want to know how to use certain Mexican modismos (colloquialisms) in your daily conversation? Bob has written at least twenty bilingual dialogues to help you.
Mexico Bob is a also big booster of Irapuato, the town in the Mexican state of Guanajuato where he lives. Irapuato is known as La Capital Mundial de la Fresa--the World Capital of the Strawberry. Along the roadsides around Irapuato, strawberries are sold in woven wicker baskets, like the basket in the photo.
After knowing one another in the blogosphere for a year or so, Bob, his wife Gina and I met for lunch in Morelia last January. We made a plan to meet again in Irapuato so Bob and Gina could show Judy and me the town.
Quite the student of history and architecture, Bob took us on a walking tour of downtown Irapuato. He showed us his favorite pastry-supply store, the Cathedral and the main plaza, and several churches.
We snacked on these delicious gorditas de trigo (little fat wheatcakes), similar to the gorditas de nata (little fat creamcakes) sold all over Mexico. These gorditas have the strong, sweet flavor of cinnamon. The comal (griddle) is made of clay; the fire under the comal is carbón (rustic charcoal).
Construction for Templo San José (Church of St. Joseph) began around 1570. The small church was built for the use of the Otomíes, one of the local indigenous groups. The facade was constructed between 1770 and 1780. The style of the columns is estípite, from the Latin word meaning 'trunk of a tree'. Michelangelo was the first to use this style pilaster, in 1526. Typically, estípite columns are covered with intricately detailed decoration.
Our last stop in Irapuato was for lunch at El Rincón de la Arrachera, Av. Comisión Federal de la Electricidad #2581. A family operation, the restaurant serves buffet-style skirt steak, chorizo para asar (spicy sausage for grilling), caramelized onions, chiles güeros y verdes toreados (grilled yellow and green chiles), several house-made salsas, and queso fundido (melted cheese). Along with that, each table receives fresh, hot-off-the-griddle handmade tortillas, mixed salad, a choice of several drinks, and choice of dessert. The meal is all-you-can-eat, and we all ate till we simply could not hold another bite. Everything was delicious. I'd tell you the price, but Bob and Gina refused to let us see the check. The owner, Miguel Angel Conejo Carcía, cordially invites all of Mexico Cooks!' readers to come enjoy his hospitality. Mexico Cooks! seconds the motion--the restaurant is absolutely terrific!
Looking for a tailored-to-your-interests specialized tour in Mexico? Click here: Tours.