Thursday, February 24, 2011

Valentine's Day in El Tuito

The B & B where we stayed on February 14 was perfect for a Valentine’s Day getaway. Located south of Puerto Vallarta in the quiet old town of El Tuito, El Jardin (The Garden) is run by a French couple whose taste runs to the romantic. “A Touch of Paris in Mexico” is the hotel’s motto. Draperies of raspberry-colored silk, diaphanous panels used as room dividers, fluffy pink towels, and candles, candles, candles made for a sensuous setting. Feather boas and bouquets of roses added to the lavish effect.

After settling in, we browsed around El Tuito and went for dinner at Valle Azul, a restaurant with a few sidewalk tables near the main plaza. As we waited for our coconut shrimp, we watched a vendor selling Valentine balloons and stuffed animals wrapped in pink and red. We were musing about what a special Valentine’s Day it had been, when a pickup truck loaded with a slaughtered cow pulled up and parked in front of our table. A skinless head, eyes intact and horns attached, and clear plastic bags of cow innards balanced on piles of bloody meat.

A large fellow wearing a black plastic apron hopped out of the truck, pulled up the metal door of the butcher shop next to our restaurant and backed up the truck smack against our table. I know what’s going to happen next, I thought, and I’m not going to let it bother me. Our coconut shrimp arrived.

The burly butcher slung a side of beef over his shoulder and carried it into his shop. He looked like a strong guy, but it wasn’t easy. Not going to bother me, not going to bother me, I repeated to myself. I thought of my vegetarian daughter, and though I miss her, I was glad she was not there at that moment. The butcher finished unloading the carcass just as we polished off the coconut shrimp.

We settled up with Valle Azul and I asked the butcher what he did with the horns. Unless they are especially big ones, he said, he throws them out. Seems a shame, I thought, but if there is something useful you could do with cow horns, a butcher would have thought of it by now.

In hopes of getting a photo memento of our special Valentine’s Day dinner, we stopped the next morning at the butcher shop. The sides of beef hung from hooks behind the counter, where the butcher stood, slicing fat from chunks of steak. “That was one big cow,” I observed as a conversation starter. “Very heavy, about 500 kilos--more than a thousand pounds,” he said. The butcher, whose name is Joaquin Gómez, seemed pleased when I asked if I could take a photo, and he wondered if it would be on the Internet. “I don’t have email myself,” he said, “but my sister in California does, and she can send me a copy.”

So here’s to you, El Jardin del Tuito and Joaquin Gómez. And thank you for making Valentine’s Day 2011 a memorable one.

1 comment:

Liz said...

Awesome! I love the picture.