A Pineapple Full of Tequila and a Fried Frog

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On my last full day in Celaya, I went with Luis and Carolina and their son, Luisito, to Lake Yurira, near the border with the State of Michoacan. On its shores are clustered large, thatch roofed fish houses that mainly serve what can be caught there. The lake is huge so it feels like the sea. There are mountains in the distance. There is music. We get pineapples that have been hollowed out and then refilled with fruit juice, tequila, cayenne pepper and ice. The tops have been rimmed with salt and decorated with paper flowers. They are large and delicious. We are brought a large platter of what appear to be hot sizzling whole minnows. I had had something like this years ago in France. They are very salty, sort of like fried sardines. I hear Luis order a ranita. I'm pretty sure this means little frog, but I say nothing. Carolina and Luisito both get coctel , that delicious cold seafood gazpacho made with shrimp and chunks of avocado. I have used it as a soup at Crook's, having been taught the recipe years ago by people on my staff. It is generally served in an over sized goblet, but for children it comes in a sherbet glass. (If you order this around here, make sure that you are not getting the extra fancy version which is finished off with a spritz of orange Fanta). I choose the devilled shrimp. This is the second time that I have encountered fresh water shrimp in Mexico. The first was in the mountains in Oaxaca. They were caught in a river.

As I order this, I am reminded of a trip to Ecuador years ago, where I encountered women selling plastic bags of boiled lake snails. They were so pretty and smelled so good that I almost couldn't resist them until I took a good look at the state of the lake from which they had come. No such caution today! The situation was too enchanting. I didn't examine this lake.

The ranita was indeed a frog, only it wasn't little. It was plate sized. It had been cleaned and gutted to be sure, but it was pretty much all there ,head and all. It perched between the red rice and the cabbage salad. And it tasted exactly like chicken. When Luis was finished, all that remained was a little pile of very clean, shiny bones.

(If you have time, click on the photos. They are quite nice when enlarged. This is true throughout the blog.)

posted by Bill Smith at 9:18 AM


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