The soul of food and travel writing

Mexico

San Miguel de Allende — The Price of Redemption

San Miguel de Allende — The Price of Redemption

Guilt is an opinionated dream crusher with better stalking skills than a student loan bill collector. It caught me one January evening as I sat on the park bench in San Miguel de Allende. Smiling, I watched a mariachi band serenading a middle-aged couple groping for a second chance at love.

Violins glided underneath a canopy of the trilling trumpet. The song must have been familiar because the woman joined in with recognition and abandon. Swaying, she swung her arms and twirled in circles. Her lover captured the moment on his tiny mobile phone screen. When the last note of the song faded, the woman clasped her hands, threw back her head and smiled. The band moved on as if this kind of ordinary magic was commonplace. And maybe it was. Tourists from the United States reduced their understanding of Mexico to tacos and tequilas. But once they come here, once they experience the truth of Mexico—that realism is really a sort of magic—they return.

A voice slinked on the back of my neck and curved its way behind my ear. I recognized guilt’s slithering murmur. It pressed me against its cold heart and cooed:

‘You don’t deserve to be happy. You exchanged her life for yours. Remember when you told the doctors they could remove the machines? Remember when you placed your faith in science instead of God? Recuerdas mi amor?’

Great. Now my guilt was bilingual and spoke better Spanish than I did. Pulling my puffer vest tighter across my body, I shielded myself against the tremor of memory. Guilt snatched it back, however, and suddenly I was transported to a hospital room in New Jersey. I remembered my mother as she was then. Her once-famed beauty shrank and wrinkled into this other thing. It was now a vessel preparing for a new voyage, from one temporal plane to the next.

This excerpt is part of a travel memoir published in September 2016 in Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel. Click here to read the essay in its entirety.


Soul Food Stories

The Challenges & Rewards of Cooking Local in Tulum

The Challenges & Rewards of Cooking Local in Tulum

There was trouble in paradise. Both generators were down at Eden Supper Club on Tulum’s famed Beach Road. Crews worked for hours to restore power in the restaurant, which was set in a jewel box of palm trees and mangroves. Chicken and beef weren’t available that evening, […]

Bitches’ Brew: Bicerin & The Brutal Beginnings of Sweet Things

Bitches’ Brew: Bicerin & The Brutal Beginnings of Sweet Things

Editor’s Note — The following is a guest post written by Peter Levenda. Here, he shares his reflections about the brutal, beginnings of bicerin; a traditional hot drink served in northern Italy.   It was freezing, but the coffee was hot. We sat at a marble-topped […]

Mezzanine

Mezzanine

Some of the best food in Tulum is Thai. Thailand and Tulum share a similar climate and growing conditions. Both Thai and Mexican dishes feature vibrant combinations of sweet, savory, salty, sour, and umami. Creating authentic Thai dishes using local, Mexican ingredients requires ingenuity and […]

The Kitchen Table

The Kitchen Table

Deep in the heart of the jungle darkness, there is The Kitchen Table. The hands of the restaurant’s Mayan cooking staff move like brown shadows. Illuminated above by lights strung on a dangling, wooden, beam, the team prepares a garden of earthly delights – grilled […]

Cenzontle

Cenzontle

Cenzontle means “Mockingbird”. “It’s small and aggressive,” said Ivan Angeles, owner of Cenzontle. “It is not afraid to get involved with the big birds.” Cenzontle has only been open since 2013 and already it is a powerhouse in Tulum Beach’s restaurant scene. Like most restaurants […]

Cake & Courtship at Vic’s

Cake & Courtship at Vic’s

When a handsome, Italian man offers you a slice of cake, say “yes.” And so I said “yes” to the Limoncello cake, the Cinnamon Dolce Godiva cake and the Tiramisu. Each dessert brings the richness of its distinctive flavor. But what makes each cake a […]