Things I’ve Written This Week - An Illustrated History of Ramen [First We Feast] Delicious Meats On Sticks In Los Angeles [KCET] Best Taco Joints in Los Angeles [Food Network]
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
24 Hours in Mexico: Guadalajara, Jalisco to Sahuayo, Michoacan
24 hours can be a lifetime. The routine of the gig becomes either a tedious act, or an inspired journey of growth. One way or the other, musicians jam it into their veins: airports,hotel check-in, sound check, grooming, green room, show,rock n roll glory, ass, addictions, lobby call, airports, and back to zero. The crescendo is a dynamic blur of narcotizing highs and lows.
It's in between those moments when I restlessly explore the environs. I'm exhausted but can't bare to miss a thing. Maybe there will be a stretch of barren highway so I can nod for 30 fucking minutes.
The drive from Jalisco to Michoacan round Lake Chapala via Guadalajara is short. Would I get that Michoacan that I encountered this summer? There was plenty to see on the two-lane death ride--our driver mostly drove in between the two lanes while trucks and cars made for the shoulder so we could squeeze through. The road was flanked by birrieros(birria cooks) and torteros(sandwich makers) in Jalisco, then abruptly turned to carnitas and artisans at the state line. I finally saw Mexico's largest fresh water lake: Lake Chapala.
On the Guadalajara-Chapala highway there is a truck stop for northern burritos that every driver we've ever had instinctively goes when the band is hungry. Los Burritos de Moyahua has been around for 22 years; open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.
It big enough to handle bus loads--simple and hearty guisados are wrapped in fresh flour tortillas fast and delicious. I never have a problem going here.
There's always at least one banda tour bus, and bunch of big-rigs parked outside this vast property that boasts two large indoor dining areas and a huge covered patio.
Around 2PM is when the local families show up.
Pollo guisado, bistec ranchero, mole, papas con rajas, machaca con huevo, chicharron en salsa verde, and many more entice and deliver northern comfort. Burritos are tacos with rolled flour tortillas--it's a taco de guisado. Well, at least these thin burritos are still tacos.
I thought there should be something different among the known guisados served, and there it was: mole amoxóchitl. This is a lightly sweet mole from Amoxóchitl, Zacatecas with hints of apple, dried fruits, tropical fruit, and a medium mid-throat tingle of heat.
Further proof of wasted energy only talking about moles from Oaxaca and Puebla--Mexico has so much more to offer to cooks, chefs, and diners.
All I needed was this one perfect bite before heading to Sahuayo. Wonder what I'll find there?
Sahuayo is the kind of place with a population that washes into the center of town at night, draining the rest of the city of life and light, and then drifts outward like the tide during the day. Everyone comes out to hear the mariachis in the evening.
One of the signs you are in Michoacan are the fresh, toasted garbazo vendors. These take the place of street corn. A bag of scorched garbanzos topped with hot sauce is the right of every Michoacano.
After sound check there are some hours to dig around for something special, something unique, something tasty.
Wandering only leads to lonely, darkened streets, but the local market is unearthed--that'll save for tomorrow morn. There are only two competing taco stands and some scattered vendors of garbanzos in the town square, hot dogs, too. Taqueria d' Rodolfo it is: veal birria, lip, eye, brain, palate, and shank tacos. "No palate?" "Ok, veal and lip will do just fine." Very good, not great: solid.
Just about a hundred feet away is a torta and tostada stand run by these nice ladies--it seems to have most of the action on this night.
The tostada estilo Sahuayo comes with a fine head cheese, pork loin, or pig's feet. The trotters are home made, but the round of head cheese looked lovely. A thin spread of watery refried beans, pinkish head cheese, cabbage, tomato sauce, pickled jalapenos, chile de arbol salsa, and runny mustard are the components of this tostada--the same ingredients go into the torta.
This tostada is a dream. $4 into the evening and I'm completely satisfied with this result. The queso de puerco, or head cheese is tender and a dominant flavor in this substantial preparation.
This leaves a bit of time to get ready before what turns out to be a tense night on the gig in nearby Jiquilpan, Michoacan--sometimes whether or not the artist goes on stage can become a "family affair". In the end it's a good show--no need for any rough stuff--and I can now afford a 4 hour rest before checking out the local market.
I find the comedores (eateries found in all markets in Mexico) about 15 minutes prior to our departure for Guadalajara. There's menudo, birria, and lots of carnitas--after so many years of taquerias referring to their carnitas as being Sahuayo style, here I am in Sahuayo for the real thing. The busiest stand was doing tripas near the entrance of the regional food court of the Sahuayo market.
Carnitas El Indio was looking real good.
Their stunning display case of plump carnitas even mesmerized a young girl catching breakfast with her family.
I ordered a taco of cueritos(skin) and a surtido(mixed). They dress their carnitas with a spicy guacamole, and salsa; no cilantro or onions are needed. Carnitas are prepared differently all over Michoacan; there really is a noticeable difference here from those in Morelia, or Quiroga. Some of the cuts are different, and the tortillas are bigger here.
These are showstoppers, and nothing more is needed. I can go back to Guadalajara happy, and content.
It has been a little more than a day since I first showed up to LAX to catch my flight to Guadalajara--it's been another 24 hours in Mexico.
Los Burritos de Moyahua
Carr. 23 Guadalajara-Chapala
colonia Santa Rosa, Guadalajara, Jalisco
365 days/24 hrs a day
Jiquilpan and Sahuayo, Michoacan
Tacos d' Rodolfo
Zocalo de Sahuayo
Tostadas y Tortas puesto
Zocalo de Sahuayo