Don Day doesn’t drive. 55 years ago the world was deemed a better place if Don Day never again sat behind the wheel of any car unless there was a neon sign close by that included the word “bumper”. You see, Don Day ran into things. Not people or even other cars. Just things. Nevertheless, Don Day accepted the judgment of the world and has found the only major hindrance to not driving is not being able to carry a picture of himself that for some reason all the ladies want to see at the Costco checkout.
I should also point out that the rumor is not true. In the days when I was out chasing women (on foot, of course), I did not ask if they had a chauffeur’s licence before I asked them to dance. Well, not Don Day’s Wife anyway.
So, yesterday, I was out walking. Not because I don’t have a driver’s licence but because I wanted to. I very much want to lose four very heavy kilos before the end of the month and, as I somewhat lack self-discipline in controlling my eating and drinking habits, every day I am walking. Briskly.
So yesterday, after downing not one but two juicy sausages from La Nueva Aurora on a Panio baguette, I decided a walk all the way to the Jardin Botanico was required. And yes, I did have a bit of a haughty taughty, nose-in-the-air banter as I walked past the endless line-up of drivers at the Pemex station. As one woman got out of a car smiling and saying “Why don’t you just meet me at Liverpool, Honey”, I wondered how much his gas was going to cost when you added in those Mexican-made but U.S.-priced clothes.
After the three blocks up to the glorieta, then rounding the corner at the still empty supermarket Gigante, I was out-of-nowhere punched in the nose by this intoxicating aroma. Now I should have been alert. Mark Putnam had warned me of the danger a couple of days earlier when I was eating my reuben at Consentido. And, though I couldn’t see it, this was the unmistakable smell of cue or Q (I believe both spellings are usually acceptable but not the second in Scrabble).
I shuffle-stepped (thanks to Arthur Murray) across the street trying to avoid the aroma. I attempted to giant-step right past the temptation. But I stopped and took out my iPhone. For reference sake, for a potential future visit, I would snap a reminder.
But now I was in direct line with the western wind. The smell of cue was like a tug of war with a Sumo wrestler.
I’ll just go and photograph the menu, again for future reference sake, I thought. I dawdled across the road to the barbed wire topped fence, paused briefly, went into denial that I was really humming Neil Young’s “Helpless”, and suddenly realized I was trotting to the slick but lonely-looking black and silver trailer.
I took a deep breath, looked up at the counter like a kid on a Norman Rockwell cover and whined, “Solo revisando tu menú”.
“Sure, go ahead”, replied the young guy in perfect English.
Now you can walk (or drive) the streets of Mexico for hundreds of kilometers, pass thousands of barbacoa and carnitas joints, and you may never find a single menu that includes smoked brisket. I know of only one in all of central Mexico. No, I should have used the past tense, should have said “knew” not “know” because now I knew of two.
Smokehouse has exactly two mains on their menu. Pulled pork and that very, very, very rare and precious brisket.
So after photographing the menu, off I went to marvel at all the magnificent species of cacti in the botanical garden…no, are you kidding, of course I didn’t. The only decision I now had to make was whether to order a sandwich for immediate nirvana or order a kilo and take it home.
I thought if I gobbled the sandwich and didn’t say anything that would be OK. Because, although it may have taken a couple of marriages, I have learned the difference between not mentioning and lying. If I just didn’t tell her, she wouldn’t chide me. She wouldn’t demand a weigh-in the following morning and follow it with a “So how much did you lose, Honey?” But then again Don Day’s Wife was at home making a pork, onion and sage pie “Just for you, Honey”.
“I’ll have a medio kilo para llevar”, I mumbled.
“You get a side with that”, said the young guy whose name I had now learned was Mateo (befriend anyone and everyone with brisket). “Potato salad or cole slaw?” Jeez, I thought, this could be the difference between shirt out or tucked in at the end of the month.
“I’ll have the cole slaw please, Mateo, I’m trying to watch, no, never mind what I’m watching.”
I walked, almost skipped-to-my-lou home despite the extra weight hooked around my finger.
Get thee behind me satan I thought as I put the bag deep in the Frigidaire (yes, that’s still the word among some old-as-me Mexicans) behind some colas (diet, of course) and decided there would be no white wine that night, only red. I couldn’t come face-to-face with the possible seduction by brisket until mañana.
“Could you get the cream out of the fridge, Honey”, I said this morning as I decided you couldn’t wear second day, baggy-kneed jeans to brunch at Live Aqua (where my plan was to have extraordinary quantities of only 9.4 calories per oyster and little else). I knew also miniscule calorie shrimps were on the dinner menu for later that day. I knew they had to come out of the freezer. I knew I had to tell her soon about my fall from grace.
“Did you see that grey plastic bag when you were getting the cream, Honey?” (Hint for other men in trouble: Honey always works but Angel is way over the top). “It’s a little surprise for you. For tonight’s dinner, Honey. You know how much you love smoked brisket? There’s now a place just four blocks away. You don’t have to drive for half an hour, halfway to Dolores, for Smoked ’n’ Low anymore. I can walk just four blocks and get you brisket anytime you want…well any time after the end of the month when I’ve lost those four kilos.”
“Honey, you are amazing for thinking only about me”, said Don Day’s Wife. “And we can walk all the way to Live Aqua later so you can keep up your dedicated exercise regime.”
“Well unless you want to take a car, Angel.”
Smokehouse is located at Real de Conde 32 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They are open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm or until the meat’s all gone.