Saturday, August 27, 2011

morelia impromptu


Friday was  Costco day.


It didn’t start out that way.  I had planned on driving to Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, to look around the colonial city and then have lunch with a friend.  It didn’t quite work out as I had planned.


I got a late start.  When I got to the west end of Morelia, my GPS told me to make a left turn onto a trunk road when I should have gone right.  But it was one of those mistakes that turned out all right.  It put me right in front of the Ford dealership.


I have not yet replaced my improvised battery bracket.  And I still haven’t.  The dealership did not have one in stock.  So, I will just wait for my return to Manzanillo.


They did help me, though, to get back on track for a visit to Costco.  I stopped there just to see what delicacies the store offered to the residents this part of the highlands.


I confess to a bit of jealousy.  There was thick ham.  Cherries.  Kalamata olives.  Tomato paste.  Turkey breast sandwich meat.  Pepperoni.  Tillamook extra sharp cheese.  It was like culinary heaven.


I also took a look at the high definition televisions.  In the past year. the price has come down to the point where middle class Mexican families can now afford to buy one.  A positive result of NAFTA.


But I didn’t need a television.  I needed lunch.  My lunch partner had picked one of her favorite restaurants (Parrilla y Canilla) in the hills surrounding Morelia.  The restaurant was formerly a residence on a nice piece of property overlooking the city.  Whoever designed it had an Italianate eye.




But the restaurant’s best asset -- as should be the case for any restaurant -- is not its view or its milieu.  Its food is marvelous.  I had a steak.  Once again proving that the myth of tough Mexican beef is just that.  A myth.  It was almost tender enough to cut with my fork.


Our lunch turned out to be one of those long conversation meals.  Just as meals with friends should be.

 
I was ready to head back to Pátzcuaro, but my lunch partner suggested that I might like to see the colonial part of the city.  I did.  And off we went.


Even though I took a walking tour through Morelia last February, this walk was much better.  She showed me the Palace of Justice.  The arguably oldest building in Morelia -- now a hotel.  An old exhibit hall.  The Templo de la Rosa.  A used book store right out of the 40s.  The Teatro Ocamo.  The Regional Museum.  The Cathedral.  The Regional Government Palace.

We took a quick break at the Museum of Candy for coffee and mineral water.  And then walked down to the aqueduct and the Tarascan fountain.  Stopping on the way at another used book store.

 
What turned out to be the best stop of the evening -- it was now well past 6 -- was in an alley of a former soap factory.  The alley is lined with small bars and restaurants -- and an occasional shop. 


We stopped at one of the shops because it had a curious mix of merchandise.  Candles.  Candy.  Canned fruits.

 
The owner showed us around offering samples of the foodstuffs.  I ended up buying a jar of quail eggs canned with various savories.  Something I certainly could not buy just anywhere.


Not even at Costco.  NATA or no NAFTA.






30 comments:

Felipe Zapata said...

Tough Mexican beef is no myth. It is the norm. Of course, there are exceptions. The good beef you enjoyed in Pátzcuaro was an Argentine joint, not Mexican. I do not know the restaurant in Morelia, but if I'm guessing correctly on your dining companion, and I'm sure I am, it was a very high-end establishment, another exception to the norm.

If you go into most restaurants in our fair land and order something from a cow, bring a chisel or an axe. Alas.

Don Cuevas said...

Felipe wrote:
"If you go into most restaurants in our fair land and order something from a cow, bring a chisel or an axe. Alas"

That is axiomatic. 

Saludos,
 Don Cuevas

Felipe Zapata said...

Ouch!

Felipe Zapata said...

Guia Roji makes very nice maps of Mexico. Bet you'd be wandering down incorrect byways far less with a map instead of that whacky GPS.

Kim G said...

What Mexican beef lacks in tenderness it more than makes up in flavor. Since having eaten Mexican beef many times, I've come to often find American beef somewhat insipid.

Y tu, Don Cuevas, -- "Axiomatic." LOL

Saludos,

Kim G
Boston, MA
Where we are still awaiting this damn hurricane.

Sparksmex said...

So who was the mystery hostess ... usually we know.   I could guess but ....

Steve Cotton said...

I have the Guia Roji.  But it was of no use when looking for Costco.  The GPS guided me just where I needed to be in Morelia.  Sometimes it helps.  Other times not.  In Uruapan, it had all of the one-way street information backwards.

Steve Cotton said...

But a good one.

Steve Cotton said...

The fact that Mexican beef is always tough is the myth.  I will accept that most often it is.  Until I came to the highlands, all of my Mexican beef orders may as well have been jerky.

Steve Cotton said...

I wish you the best on surviving the impact of the hurricane.

As for American beef, the top steak houses still serve flavorful beef.

Steve Cotton said...

Yiou probably could guess.  But some things remain private.

Don Cuevas said...

The edges of the hurricane have reached us. It's very windy and rainy.

I decided to get up and have another dish of Apple Brown Betty A La Mode.
(Remember the A la Mode!)

Saludos,
 Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

You all remain in my prayers.

jennifer rose said...

Tough cuts, cutter and canner beef on the other side of the border ends up as ground meat, pressed, chopped and formed, while the same cuts in this country are flattened, pounded, sliced razor-thin, or cooked for hours on end to make a cocido or barbacoa. When was the last time you saw ground beef served up in Mexico other than as hamburger? We in Mexico just don't grind up those tough cuts. 

Not all beef, even from a well-fed, well-bred, well-raised animal, is the same. Shoulder or rump is just not going to be as fork-tender as filet. Mexican cuts, Argentine and American cuts are all different. And if you're eating cow, then the odds are that you're also eating an animal which may be well past her prime. She's a far different creature than a steer raised for only one purpose.

Do you bring your own chisel and axe when you order steak at La Surtidora, Regina's or Viejo Gaucho in Patzcuaro? Really, now.

Steve Cotton said...

Nothing like a good food fight -- with good food.

Felipe Zapata said...

I leave the tools at home because I rarely order cow in Mexican restaurants. I know better. Experience has taught me well.  I'm a chicken and fish man now. Also keeps the cholesterol down, maintaining me trim and lovely.

I am tempted to point out, and I often succumb to temptation, that the Mexican beef defenders here, and you're not the only one, are high-end sorts who favor hoity-toity eateries where the cow will surely be of a higher quality.

Beef in 95 percent of Mexican restaurants, and I mean places where real Mexicans eat, is a real struggle to masticate. And dat's a stone-cold fact.

Stick to chicken and fish.

Felipe Zapata said...

Regina's and Viejo Gaucho? I rest my case.

jennifer rose said...

Red herring! Felipe, you're breaking the rules of debate. If you proceed on the path of cholesterol, the next step will be global warming. And I don't think you want to go in that direction.

And real Mexicans? Are you trying to tell us that the steak joints of Mexico are filled with fake Mexicans? Cardboard Mexicans? 

Felipe Zapata said...

Cholesterol was a mere side glance, not the main focus. Just the mere mention of "steak joint" implies high end, perhaps Morton's there in Morelia. There is good steak in our fair land, but few places serve it. In most restaurants where we common people dine, you'll need a serrated saw.

I feel like I'm sparring with Marie Antoinette who's insisting that everyone has a dozen ball gowns in the closet and cake in the pantry, cake the hired help slices and serves while we lollygag in the hot tub.

jennifer rose said...

Here we go again, breaking the rules of civil debate, invoking the name of Marie Antoinette who never uttered anything about cake.

Are we forgetting what made the Americas great? From Tierra del Fuego to the northernmost Canadian tundra, it's beef.  Look around you, Felipe. Look at what the taquerias are serving. It's not fish tacos, and it's not grilled chicken breast. Oh, and while we're at it. Who do you think eats the leftover chicken parts and dark meat after the liberals have had their fill of white chicken tenders? 

Norm Kwallek said...

On the pricing of the TVs: I doubt that the NAFTA agreement has anything to do with the price reduction, most TVs are made in non-NAFTA countries. The price reduction is everywhere and it is based on new factories coming on line that are flooding the market. Now it might be a content thing, components made in Asia, shipped to Mexico, put together by Mexicans and sold as Mexican made. The tariff is applied to the value of the parts but not the labor of the Mexican nationals, again it is all the new factories churning out parts in Asia that is driving the price reductions on TVs everywhere.   

Steve Cotton said...

Norm -- This is one of the points even the economists who have been NAFTA-skeptics agree there is a direct cause and effect relationship. Pre-NAFTA, Mexico had a duty that ran from 50% to 100% for imported electronic goods. As a result, Mexican electronic goods started with a pricing mechanism advantage of that amount. And it is one reason electronic goods manufactured were so expensive. They did not need to compete. When the duties were lowered, Mexican manufactures no longer had that advantage. As a result, as the duties were reduced, the price of Mexican goods have decreased. It is a perfect example of how protective tariffs hurt the very people they are meant to help.

Norm Kwallek said...

If I were setting policy and I'm not... I would have the tariff set at the rate of the payroll tax, in the US it is about 14%. I would apply it to anything crossing the border, oil, computer services, fruit, whatever. Now if a country wanted to tax my exports  at a higher rate, I would do the same. An eye for an eye can be good policy. Our current tariffs are too low on many products, our 14% across the board tax on labor, prices much of our labor out of the market. When I was doing union work, the factory had a total labor cost of 18% of gross, 7.5% of that was payroll tax. There were many product lines that if we had produced them with no labor cost, we still would not have made any money-clean air and water are not cheap. Another topic all together.

Krispykey said...

Two processes are at work here:  the NAFTA tariff reductions and the general Uruguay Round reductions for all member nations of the World Trade Organization.

NAFTA tariff reductions:  they cut tariffs, and then end them, on a USA or Canadian thing entering the Mexican market.

Uruguay Round tariff reductions:  they cut tariffs on a Chinese, South Korean, Thai thing entering the Mexican market.

So the screen itself, made in a Chinese factory, entering the Mexican market and slapped together with other electronic components (many of which have also been made in Chinese factories and imported into the Mexican market)--that screen's cost to the Mexican assembler and eventually flowing through to the final Mexican customer will be lower because Mexico agreed in the Uruguay Round to reduce its tariffs on screens coming from all WTO member nations into the Mexican market.

Steve Cotton said...

Tariffs enrich governments and decrease the spending power of consumers. 0% seems to be just the right tariff for me.

Steve Cotton said...

You are correct. The Uruguay Round has had a huge impact on world trade and has greatly benefited consumers.

Irene said...

My head is spinning!  The comments start out with a discussion of the merits of beef in Mexico, move on to your wacky GPS vs maps, speculate about your lunch companion and end up with NAFTA!  What a day you had.

Steve Cotton said...

I was just thinking something similar.  The NAFTA reference was a throw-away line.  But that is often what happens in blogdom.

Krispykey said...

The glories of being non-linear!

Steve Cotton said...

But detours can be their own lines.