Pork Rinds Through New Eyes

Thursday, December 13, 2007

My trip to Celaya was even better than I had expected. It is always a pleasure to be in the company of old friends, especially those who you haven't seen in a long time. As I mentioned in my last post, these guys have a family meat business, so naturally, they prepared the bulk of the food for the wedding party. There were to be five hundred guests, so there was a great deal of food to cook. My task was to scrape the hair off of the hides of four large sows that were to be fried into chicharrones or pork rinds. I guess I had always assumed (if I had thought about it at all) that hair would have burned off in the fryer. Not so. The skins had to be carefully scraped from one end to the other before they were put into an enormous copper cauldron of boiling lard. The cooking was done outside in the courtyard. Actually, four large copper cauldrons were needed for all of the food. One was used to flash scald the pork that was to become the barbacoa, before it was tranferred into the others for a slower simmering. Later the pork will be drained, cooled a little and chopped to be eaten in tacos.

My friend Luis has branched out since I was last in town and has opened his own little butcher shop in a neighborhood that had had none. I sat with him there in the mornings as people came by to buy chorizos and milaneses or whatever, in small amounts, one meal at a time. People there shop day by day. The neighborhood children would hang out for a minute or two on their way to and from school. Luis will still get supplies from his father, but will no longer work for him.

Guanajuato is known as the state of "eternal spring" and indeed every day I was there, it felt springlike. In fact in the evenings, one wanted a sweater. I had hoped to get some writing done while I was there, but I was instantly seduced by circumstance and therefore couldn't possibly be either responsible or productive. I've always gotten lost in Celaya- it's about the size of Greensboro, but on this trip I finally got a handle on the layout and could find my way between places that I knew. This part of Mexico seems a little more prosperous every time I return. There are dozens of very swanky car dealerships. One can buy a latte or a cappuccino at the mall. There are ethnic restaurants. (I had a really delicious fettuccini carbonara at an Italian place on the one evening that I was left to my own devices.Instead of pasta with scrambled eggs and bacon its sauce was like a lovely egg enriched soup. This is probably how it's supposed to be made, I've just never encountered it before.) Globalization pulls everyone along.

I'm considering breaking form this winter. Ordinarily in January I go to Quebec City, but this year I'm seriously considering returning to Celaya to hang out with my friends some more.

posted by Bill Smith at 7:29 AM


Blogger Beth Montgomery said...

What are you writing? Is there a sequel to Seasoned in the South or another exciting Kitty Kat Grubbs adventure?

January 5, 2008 3:28 PM  

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