Day 4 San Miguel de Allende
Went out today to explore the city a bit, trying to get oriented. I did not stop in, but I found, the Allende Institute, explored the San Antonio neighborhood a little. The different residential areas are called 'colonials' and I was assured by a woman walking along the street that San Antonio would be a good place to look for housing in my price range and another man at the Internet cafe, Cafe del Sol, gave me the name and address of a man who has several apartments and with whom this man rented when he first arrived—16 years ago. I hope the landlord is still alive. I'll walk over there tomorrow and try to make contact.
The Cafe del Sol today was the site of my second meal in a restaurant. I ordered enchiladas with mole sauce. It was very good, as was my Soupa Azteca the day before, but I think the mole sauce, with it's base of chocolate was a poor choice. I could have had red or verde sauce instead. A better choice would have been the salsa verde made, I suppose, with tomatillos. Along with the meal I ordered jugo verde, a vegetable juice made with celery, parsley, other green veggies I can't remember and lime. It was very refreshing.
I don't remember exactly the ingredients for mole sauce, but I think it's made of a paste of chile peppers, several kinds, garlic, tomato and chocolate. Mexican chocolate of course is not as refined, nor as fatty, as chocolate eaten in the North as candy, or used for baking. The dish I had today was garnished with sesame seeds, a nice touch, which I learned later talking with a neighbor in the campground is typical in Mexico. Sesame & chocolate: think about it. An appealing combination, but not one seen, at least not in my experience, in the North.
The highlight of the day was the pu,blic market on top of the mountain on the opposite side of the city.
It'skn own as the Tuesday market—for obvious reasons --and was a wonderful experience both for the few things I bought there, and for the local color. As usual the Mexicans were good natured about my ignorance and poor Spanish. The food stands had all kinds of fruit and vegetables, dried beans, nuts, tortillas and spices. Then too there were plastic cartoon characters for sale, CDs, and clothing. I did not see any stands selling tube socks like in Rochester's public market. Maybe it's trend that's not yet reached Mexico.
There were all kinds of meats, chicken, fish, fresh and cooked. The stands selling carnitas were crowded 3 & 4 deep with locals buying chopped pork, skin, fat and meat. One stand sold made- to- order quesidillas more like a rustic pizza than the fancy tortilla sandwiches I used to make. That stand was also popular surrounded with eager customers. Lots of locals seemed to come to the market just to eat.
I bought only two small avocados, ripe, for 50 cents, a tangerine the size of a grapefruit for ten cents—the woman called it a mandarino, some Spanish peanuts in the shell, and a mango and some cumin seeds. My first shopping expedition in el mercado set me back about two dollars all tolled. . I would have paid much more just for the pleasure of seeing all I did. Except for the caged songbirds, which I did not see but was later told were there for sale. I'm not surprised, but disappointed. Later in the International Edition of the Miami Herald I read about an animal rights group that interrupted a bull fight somewhere else in Mexico. I have to admit that when I first saw tSan Miguel's bull fight stadium Plaza de Toros on the road to the market I was put off by it, bunny-hugger that I am.
I've read that the Plaza de Toros accommodates 3,500 spectators, is often sold out, and seats in the sun and seats in the shade are priced differently. An afternoon's program will include 4-6 bullfights, each one comprised of three stages. First the picadores circle the bull jabbing it with lances in the shoulders, then the bull is targeted by running fighters called banderilleros with large quill-kind of knives meant to stick in the bull's hide and make it bleed. Then, in the third and final stage the matador comes out and tries to impress the crowd with his daring play with the wounded, bleeding animal. The finish comes only when the exhausted animal, about to collapse from loss of blood, is killed, one hopes, in a single coup de grace thrust of the matador's sword to the heart. The matador gets bonus points if he gets it right the first time. Meat from the bulls is given to the poor, orphans, or something warm and fuzzy like that.
Not for me. Maybe Mexicans could take up golf. :-)