Huevos y Tocino (Eggs and Bacon)

This week, instead of fiction, I’m sharing some of the holiday traditions and experiences I’m having while visiting my mother in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

The Bacon Guy's Truck

In this episode, I want to tell you about huevos y tocino – eggs and bacon.

While La Paz, and my mother’s suburb, El Centenario, do have grocery stores, mini-marts, and corner stores, just as you find in the states, the locals, and most of the ex-pats who are mindful about where their food comes buy as much as they can from local vendors.

BaconIn El Centenario, that means if you want chicken or eggs, you call Alex. Alex also services the pools for a lot of the people in my mother’s neighborhood, but that’s just because he works hard. At his house, across the highway from my mom’s neighborhood, he raises chickens. You call him and ask if he’ll be around and tell him how many chickens or eggs you want, and then when you show up at his house (it has white gates) and he has harvested the chickens – killed, plucked and cleaned, and cut into parts if you don’t want them whole – or eggs (also cleaned) and you pay him. (It was  100 pesos for a dozen eggs.) When you’ve finished your eggs, you return the egg crates to Alex, for reuse.

Getting bacon (or smoked pork chops, ham, or chorizo) is a similar process. You drive to the bacon guy’s house. (I forgot to ask his first name, and everyone just calls him ‘the bacon guy’) His commercial truck was parked in his driveway. When we went, his wife was in the window of their laundry room, and she gestured us toward the back of the house, where the bacon guy came out in his butcher apron, and asks what you want, how much, and how you’d like it cut.

We asked for a kilo of bacon, sliced thin, and he brought us chunks of freshly smoked ham to taste while we waited. He put on fresh gloves and went to slice and package our order.

More baconThe ham was amazing, juicy and hot, a little salty, a little sweet, just as it should be. I considered asking for some, but we already had an overflowing fridge, and none of us really eat that much ham.

It only took him a few minutes, and when he gave us our precious package of meat candy, he also brought us paper napkins to clean our hands. The cost for a kilo of bacon was $120 mxp, or a bit over six dollars, US.

Truthfully, it’s a little hard to see slabs of raw meat hanging there, some cured, some waiting to be, but I believe that if you’re going to eat meat, you should be familiar with how it’s processed, just as you should be mindful of where it comes from.

Our huevos and tocino purchases allowed us to get the freshest ingredients, while also supporting local small businesses, and that makes me really happy.

Getting to La Paz

La Paz

During the holidays, instead of fiction, I’m sharing some of the traditions and experiences I’m having while visiting my mother in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico. She’s lived here for a bit over 19 years, and we’ve visited her almost every year, beginning with her very first Christmas here, and while the city has changed, and she’s moved house a couple of times, and we lost my stepfather last year, we still embrace the combination of our old family traditions with the new ones we’ve learned here.

Today, I want to tell you about getting to La Paz. When we lived in California, we could fly to LAX and then take any number of airlines into La Paz, but now that we live in Texas (and there are fewer US-based airlines who land in La Paz at all) we fly to Los Cabos – that’s the collective term for the region at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula that includes Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo – rent a car, and drive up the Baja on old Mexico Highway 1.

There’s another, faster highway, but Route 1 twists and turns up into the mountains along the gulf coast, skirting through East Cape, where we always stop at Los Barriles for lunch at Roadrunner Café. Los Barriles has a huge ex-pat population – mostly folks from the US and Canada –  and the prices reflect that, but the food and service at Roadrunner are usually good, and there are clean bathrooms.

From there, we go through San Bartolo, El Triunfo (home of a piano museum), and into La Paz, around the bay to Chametla, where one of our favorite cafes is, and then into El Centenario, where my mom actually lives. These are their own towns, but they’re still part of the greater La Paz municipality.

A good portion of the trip is pigtail turns and switchbacks through the mountains, and we often have to stop while cows or goats cross the road, but it’s also beautiful, and it feels like a transition from home to vacation.

It’s a three-hour drive, but it’s worth the slightly longer trip.