Monthly Archives: October 2011

Huevos Motuleños – in Motul

Is there someone out there who hasn’t realized that Huevos Motuleños are named after the town of Motul; birthplace of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, one of the more renowned governors of the state of Yucatan? Perhaps. The town of Motul actually got its name from the Mayan priest  Zac Mutul, who founded the Mayan settlement there in the 11th century.  But today we are not going to talk about history; we are talking about the eggs. Huevos Motuleños, which has a back story, apparently.

The story, as far I can decipher, is that Felipe Carrillo Puerto asked local restaurateur Jorge Siqueff to make him something for breakfast; something different. And this now iconic Yucatecan dish, served everywhere Yucatecan food is offered (and with as many variations as there are Yucatecan restaurants) is what he came up with.  The version in Motul is probably the closest to the original, and starts with crunchy fried corn tortillas or tostadas, topped with refried black beans, topped with your choice of eggs (sunny side up, runny, scrambled) topped with a unique cooked tomato sauce that has chunks of (should be smoked) ham and peas.

Check out some video (in Spanish) on the subject of this unique breakfast item here and here:

This is how the Critic and his guests had this breakfast one morning a few days ago on the second floor of the Motul market and it is absolutely delicious!

The lady in the Mirador spot (photo below) was very friendly and offered free refills on the horchatas; and as if the eggs were not enough, warm frances (crusty french-style white bread) was brought to the table as well.

Total bill for a breakfast that will keep you energized for the whole day? $40 pesos before tips. That’s a little over 3 dollars, for those doing conversions.

Wayan’E – Again

Poc Chuc and Chicharra tacos. Notice the beans.

After so many years of living here and not going, Wayan’E has received more visits from the Casual Restaurant Critic than usual, probably because of his rather sparse pocketbook situation (dictionary sales are down this lifetime) and also because Better Half is always on a trip someplace exotic.

Read the previous review here; there is really nothing new to report except that the tacos are delicious, the service friendly as hell and the prices are fantastic.

I am hungry now what with that photo. I think I will go al ratito which does not mean “to the little rat” but rather “in a little while”.

Pat Reflects on her Merida Reno

(Authors note – so as not to confuse you, dear reader, this particular moment happened before Betty came to Pat’s house to discuss the Seidy ‘situation’) Enjoy!

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“15 new messages” was Pat’s cue to begin clicking around her Facebook page, reading this and that until she remembered that she had wanted to replace the happy couple photo currently adorning her profile with something a little more up to date.

She clicked on “change picture” and began burrowing down into several directories on her laptop where she had stored her photos from the last few months, looking for something appropriate to show the world that she was adjusting to life in Merida, newly single without appearing too available or needy, and reasonably happy.

She opened a directory in which were photos of her in and around her new Merida house, before, during and after the renovation. The architect, a short, fifty-ish Yucatecan with greying hair and an excellent command of English, really had done an amazing job, and she congratulated herself on the decision to hire him based on the stellar recommendations she had found on several websites dedicated to the subject of life in Merida.

At first he had not seemed that particularly enthusiastic about the project, but she soon came to realize that this was his personality; cool, calm and serious, not prone to enthusiastic outbursts of feigned optimism or dramatic displays of frustration or dismay in the face of the many adversities that their project had run into. When the gutting of the house had begun, he negotiated on her behalf with the badged inspectors from the local INAH office who eagerly descended like rapacious vultures on the property, apparently smelling their prey from their air conditioned offices far away and anxious to justify their blood-sucking existence by attempting to apply their extensive rules and regulations on yet another unwitting foreigner who would sure pay any and all citations and fines involved with such a project. Pat suspected, and the architect later confirmed, that they could care less about the ‘historic preservation’ aspect of their mandate and were much more interested in supplementing their incomes with a little extra cash in exchange for certain permits and permissions.

He had also managed the hiring and supervision of the firm that provided sandal-clad albañiles who did the construction, the ingeniero who re-did all the electrical work and the company charged with renovating the plumbing. These contractors were all alike in that they appeared on the construction site as a group of rag-tag brown men who did all the work; an ingeniero who wore an impeccably clean long sleeved shirt and blue jeans with an ironed crease and who spent an inordinate amount of time on his cell phone while sitting in his air conditioned pickup on the street outside; and his assistant who was the immediate contact with the workers and who, if necessary, could be counted on to move things along and actually get dirt under his fingernails.

Pat had watched the work progress with fascination and more than a little concern, marveling at the way the workers would move giant rocks, heavy wooden beams and truckloads of concrete blocks and sacks of cement, without the benefit of a hard hat or steel-toed boots. Perched on precarious metal and wood andamios, they would shout to each other in what Pat would later find out was Mayan, avoiding all eye contact with the gringa watching below. On the rare occasions that she had tried to initiate some sort of dialogue with her admittedly limited Spanish, they would look at her blankly and then continue on with their work. Mostly, they ignored her.

The much anticipated visit (Pat had read about this on the internet) from the IMSS official who had come to verify that the workers on the list he had received as being on the payroll were in fact the same as the ones actually on the job, had resulted in work stopping for a day as initially the architect had not been on site and the man from the IMSS had tried to communicate his mission to Pat, who really did not understand the finer workings of this typical Mexican bureaucratic institution. When she finally managed to locate the architect on his cell phone, he told her he was in Progreso and would be back in the afternoon. He reminded her not to sign anything and ask the IMSS to return later in the day. Mr. IMSS was a little miffed and warned everyone present that the work could not continue until he had spoken to the architect and so, the workers sat around to wait for further instructions from the ingeniero who was due to arrive in a few hours. Pats voiced concern that the time could be spent sweeping and/or generally doing some cleanup was met with more blank stares and a few shrugs.

During the re-construction phase, Pat had learned to keep away from certain parts of the evolving house, as these were used as changing facilities and what her nose told her was a latrine, until she made it clear to the ingeniero and architect that she would pay for a portable toilet.

When the albañiles were done and the walls resurfaced and smooth, the electrical and plumbing workers moved in, smashing holes and canals in these same, apparently finished walls into which were inserted copper pipes for the upgraded plumbing and plastic tubes into which the electrical wiring would be pulled. This made little or no sense to Pat, who did not understand the natural order of the construction process in Merida but was reassured by her serene architect who simply nodded and explained to her that this was the way it was done.

Finally, the rough work was complete and the adventure continued with carpenters, painters and aluminum workers, who, under the architects guidance finished the house more or less on schedule and with minimum collateral damage.

Her thoughts wandered back to her present. Ah yes, the profile picture. Pat sipped her lemon tea and decided on a photo where she was standing in front of her bright yellow wooden front door, which contrasted sharply with the deep burgundy color of the facade of her new Merida home, clicked on the upload button and waited for her profile picture to update itself.

The doorbell rang.

Pat padded through the silent house, cup of tea in hand and opened the door to find Seidy waiting.

Buenos dias, Seidy” said Pat, opening the door wider to let her muchacha in. “Buenos dias, señora” said Seidy with a smile and headed towards her room beyond la cocina, to the obligatory cuarto de servicio, to change into her work clothes for the day. Initially, Pat had balked at the concept of making a special room for the hired help, but after being assured by her architect as well as several other people who knew about these things, she agreed to include the additional room in the renovation.

“I really must call Betty” thought Pat, watching Seidy disappear into the kitchen, as she closed the door quietly and returned to her laptop. Her Facebook profile picture now featured a beaming, obviously happy middle aged woman standing in front of a brightly colored colonial style home. “Much better” thought Pat, closing the laptop for the moment and heading back to her bedroom with its en-suite bathroom to prepare herself for the day ahead.

Los Platos Rotos aka The Broken Plates

The Platos Rotos restaurant has been on the Critics to-do list forever, as it comes highly recommended by the fine folks over at Yucatan Living and today was the day that the Casual One dragged his sorry butt over to the popular chilango eatery to have some lunch and break an all-protein diet.

The first thing the Critic noticed was the baby crying. No, not really, that came after the realization that there was soft jazzy music coming from the speakers instead of horrid Mexican pop or ponchis ponchis or worse, a blaring television. There was no television!! Five stars right there for that omission!

There was a chalkboard menu and the Critic took the first item on the short list of about 7 or 8 items: Costillas en Ciruela or something like that. Ribs (pork, good for the protein diet) in a ciruela (plums or if the local version, chi’abal) sauce. “Sopa o arroz?” “Arroz” replied the Critic, although in retrospect the soup would probably have been delicious if indeed it was a soup as it is known in the US or Canada. Sopa can also be pasta you know.

Para tomar?

Jamaica

Unfortunately or fortunately there was no jamaica and so the Critic listened to the long list of fresh fruit aguas available and decided on guayaba, which came zipping out of the kitchen in a flash and was fruity and creamy and extremely refreshing.

Then the food was out before the Critic could check in on Foursquare as was a plate of not warm refried beans and some crispy chips aka totopos which were thankfully a far cry from the thick, limp corn chips served at VIPs, ugh. The food was fantastic! The ribs were cooked in the most delicious and satisfying sauce, complete with a few potatos thrown in for added carbs. It was almost good enough to lick the plate!

The only downside to the experience was the idiot at the next table who, cellular hands free bluetooth accessory in his ear, would take phone calls in a voice that could be heard in the bull ring three blocks away. The service was prompt and efficient. The price was ridiculous. $45 for the meal and $20 for the drink. A gourmet lunch for 5 dollars.

As Arnold would have said: I’ll be back.