For this month’s Destinations Book and Dinner Club we read C.M. Mayo’s Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico and ate dinner at Lindo Michoacan.
Mayo is an American expat based in Mexico City, who spends a significant amount of time traveling around the Baja Peninsula. The book is organized geographically beginning in the south near Cabo San Lucas, and finishing in Tijuana. The style of writing is prose with a journalistic angle. While there’s no real revelation as to when the time period of her travels and interviews took place, or over what length of time, I guessed that most of her travels took place in the 1990s.
I appreciated the book for its focus on Baja California — a region of Mexico you don’t hear much about besides Tijuana and Cabo San Lucas. Mayo tends to visit more off-the-beaten path type places and give interesting and in depth character sketches — of an artists’ colony in Todos Santos, of the owners of the quaint inns where she stays, of fishermen. Led by a local guide, she and her sister hike to several remote rock art locations not frequented by tourists, and Mayo goes on a week-long whale watching excursion, admittedly more to observe the other tourists.
One thing, however, is that most of her interviews are done with either other expats or with Mexicans who work in the tourist industry, leaving me as reader to wonder about the livelihoods of the rest of the people who call this region home. But I will give Mayo props for weaving the history of the region and of Mexico as a whole into her writing. I really learned a lot by reading this book. At nearly 400 pages, and jam-packed with personal accounts, interviews and history, it is not a quick read.
Now on to dinner at Lindo Michoacan.
I’ve eaten here a few times before, and they do have some of the best Mexican food in town. As I’m a big fan of Day of the Dead folk art, I enjoyed much of the interior decor.
To start, I ordered a Don Julio 1942 tequila, as I am anti-mixed drinks these days. Why spoil good alcohol with a bunch of sugary crap? But after realizing that an ounce of Don Julio generally goes for around $20 in most restaurants, my second drink was the Gran Centenario añejo which generally sells for half that price — my favorite kind of sipping tequila anyways.
All dinners are served with a simple, yet tasty fideo soup — vermicelli noodles in a tomato broth.
For my main dish, I usually get the Camarones Borrachos (shrimp cooked in a tequila sauce), but this time I thought I’d try something new: Gallo al Coñac (a lightly-fried chicken breast cooked in a cognac cream sauce and topped with mushrooms and onions). Do you sense a pattern here?
The meal was good, but I decided I prefer the tequila shrimp. Maybe next time I’ll try the chicken with cactus, billed as a healthy option.
The evening was going great until our check arrived and we realized they charged us $50 for 2 Don Julio 1942 tequilas. As I pride myself on knowing the distinct taste of certain tequilas, I knew there was a mistake. We contested to the waiter, who refused to adjust the check, insisting they were out of Gran Centenario tequila. Super Scam. I tried not to let it ruin a perfectly good evening, and the great conversation with fellow world travelers that had taken place.