We stopped into a traditional Mexican restaurant for lunch today. On weekdays, pretty much all that is served around here is food we're familiar with. But on weekends, look out. They get fancy.
Here's a bowl of what we tried today:
That, my friends, is menudo.
When we walked into the restaurant, the hostess/tortilla-maker/lady in charge told us that she was serving menudo and birria (goat) and would we like to try some before we ordered? Of course we would. We don't turn down that kind of hospitality. So she brought out two bowls, the one pictured above and one of birria. Before she brought it out I was pretty sure that I knew what menudo was and I was pretty sure that I wouldn't love it. And then she put it on our table and I was very sure I knew what it was and convinced I wouldn't love it.
I did eat the broth. And onions and cilantro. But I just wasn't into the...tripe. Also known as stomach and small intestines, with possibly beef feet and tendons thrown in for good measure. Ugh. I had a few bites, offered some to the girls, forced Scott to taste some, and then had a bit more of the broth (which was tasty). But the texture of the meat...let's just say, it wasn't my thing.
But I did enjoy the birria. And so did the girls. Here's a photo of that:
It's basically goat stew with lots of cilantro and onions. This wasn't the first time I'd eaten goat, but it was the first time for Brynn and Callie. I think the first time I ate goat was in the mountains in Nepal, where the goat was bled to death and butchered right outside the building where we were eating. I actually saw the little guy walking around before we ate him. It startled me a bit, but it tasted great and the goat seemed to be pretty happy before...well, you know. Seeing that the animal had been happy was oddly consoling for me. I thought Brynn and Callie would react with alarm when I told them we were ordering goat (Brynn still talks about her favorite goat, Fauna, from the Disneyland petting zoo in Frontierland), but the girls shrugged like it was no big deal. They knew it tasted good and I think that's all that mattered to them!
Our meals were accompanied by fresh tortillas made by hand by the woman who runs the restaurant. She was making them on a griddle right next to our table, which proved to be a bit hot but fresh tortillas are worth a little extra sweat.
Scott ordered what he claims to be the best fish tacos he's had (and he's a bit of a connoisseur). A gringo restaurant right around the corner from where we ate today had previously held the distinction of making his favorite fish tacos, but these were apparently even better. Maybe it was the pickled red onions that did it? Or the fact that these tacos weren't priced for gringos?
He also enjoyed his beer in a plastic cup. It reminded me a bit of his freshman year of college, when he may or may not have had a few too many beers in plastic cups. But the plastic cup was definitely the most economical way to have a beer today. I saw the waitress grab a very large bottle of Pacifico out of the fridge and was a little nervous that she would bring the whole thing to the table, which would be highly unusual in this part of the world. This isn't, after all, Japan where huge bottles of beer are expected. It was a relief to see the waitress appear with just a cup of beer instead of the big bottle.
Eating in Mexico is a blast -- there are so many little hole-in-the-wall places to eat. And, I mean literally holes in the wall. We ate at a taco bar a few days ago that seemed to be a rectangle cut out of the wall of a woman's kitchen. A countertop was added to the hole in the wall, along with three stools, and we sat down and had tacos that were as good as any we've had anywhere. And coffee flan, too! Scott and I walked away sated and happy for the equivalent of around $6. For those who enjoy adventures in eating, meals here are a privilege.