The search had been more of a safari. But the hunt is over. The prey has been captured. Today Don Day finally found the rarest and most precious of cargo in San Miguel de Allende.
Don Day had spent eleven wasted winters in San Miguel on a hapless adventure. I’d asked every farmer, every market gardener, anybody with the slightest shade of green on their thumb if they had any. Every February, I’d traipse through Parque Juarez during the Candelaria plant festival (sometimes twice) asking every single nursery and grower if they had any. One March, I did secure three plants of the substandard Russian variety from Via Organica and planted them in a garden, only to return in December to a patch as bare as the back of Don Day’s head. Last year, Don Day’s friend Cheryl had brought in seeds from Canada, had generated a couple of sprouts, a few leaves, then pppppfffffttttt, they were gone. This past December, Don Day’s Wife had even smuggled a few shoots in her purse, which meant four bathroom breaks and four times waking Don Day on the flight because “I know I’m going to hit red” at Benito Juarez.
Every year when I’d go out on a hot lead and come hope empty handed, Don Day would feel like Columbus.
“Look Chris this has got to stop, I’ve already funded two voyages but all you bring back are things like corn and potatoes which are fine for feeding the cows but it’s pepper, black pepper I’m yearning for.”
It was actually Don Day’s Wife who experienced today’s vision. Don Day was too busy searching for a hidden gem in the wine section. I didn’t see it until it was already in her shopping cart at Mega, the San Miguel supermarket.
Now I know I’m going to upset a few Roman Catholics, maybe even some non-Catholics, but you know who I thought of when I saw it. Don Day thought of Juan Diego. The guy who had that vision up on the mountain near Mexico City. I couldn’t help it. I even started singing that incredibly beautiful Tom Russell song.
And she is reaching out her arms tonight
And yes, my poverty is real
I pray roses shall rain down again
From Guadalupe on her hill
Yes, Don Day takes food a little too seriously. Comparing a spice to Nuestra Senora. But don’t we all take something a little too seriously.
Anyway we got it. And yes, we got all of it. Every single package. Every single sprig. We just couldn’t take a chance. It might have gotten into the wrong hands. Imagine it in the possession of a vegetarian. Imagine it not being able to swim over a juicy marbled ribeye.
We celebrated our monumental discovery tonight when Don Day’s Wife made our first ever sauce bearnaise with fresh Hecho en Mexico estragon. And as Don Day’s daughter-in-law dipped her steak in the emerald flecked cream, she declared it “delectable”.
Next Wednesday (that’s the day that fresh produce arrives at Mega), Don Day promises to give the rest of San Miguel de Allende a fighting chance at the French tarragon. Don Day promises to shop at Soriana, the other San Miguel supermarket instead.
Thanks to photographer, Marshall Postnikoff for allowing me to use one of the best photographs of San Miguel de Allende I’ve ever seen. You can see more of Marshall’s work at www.photographybymarshall.com