Saturday Comida in a Restaurant | Mexico | Living in Mexico

Saturday Comida in a Restaurant

San Miguel boasts a number of restaurants in the Centro Histórico.

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Many allow dining in elegant colonial courtyards. Most offer some variation on Mexican cuisine. Many are moderately priced, so Jean and I can afford to eat in them frequently.

Above, we see Jean in a typical courtyard restaurant. She is negotiating with a little girl selling Chiclets—a typical if sad scene in any Mexican city.

It's a lovely, sunny day. The courtyard with fountain, tiles, and graceful arches creates a serene space for us to relax in. The cast iron furniture, the festive Corona umbrellas, the Spanish-speaking waiters surround us with warm Mexican ambience.

But we won't be ordering enchiladas today.

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The dragon statues and the Chinese lantern give it away. We are in the Palacio Chino, the Chinese Palace. The Mexican Chinese Palace, going by the pottery chimenea behind Jean's right shoulder—with a red dragon painted on it. Culture fusion.

We love Asian cuisines. But we've given up on Japanese restaurants, at least in the states of Guanajuato and Querétaro. The delicate flavors of Japanese food doesn't register on Mexican tongues, so sushi bars amp up the vinegar in the rice, overwhelming the taste of any topping. And as I've mentioned before, these places cater to Mexican tastes with offerings such as tekka maki with chipotle sauce (tuna with smoked jalapeño chiles).

Chinese food is another matter. As a couple who lived for decades in the San Francisco Bay Area, our Asian palates are fairly sophisticated, and I can assure you that the menu at Palacio Chino is anything but authentic. However, Szechwan cooking shares many flavors with Mexican food—assertive and spicy, so it's a good choice when you're jonesing for Chinese.

Jean ordered General Tao Chicken. This consisted of chunks of chicken meat dredged in cornstarch, deep fried, coated in a brown, sugary sauce fired up with lots of long red dried chiles. I ordered Orange Peel Beef, which consisted of chunks of beef dredged in cornstarch, deep fried, coated in a brown, sugary sauce fired up with lots of chiles. Oh yeah, the cook threw a few strips of orange peel into mine.

Both dishes were delicious, though surprisingly similar.

We had to wait a half hour for our meal because we threw the kitchen with a request for steamed rice. Plain rice is generally not served in Mexico. Rice, insofar as Mexicans are concerned, is supposed to be served with vegetables mixed in, the way God intended. Did we want fried rice? No we didn't. So they had to cook our steamed rice to order.

We also wrong-footed them with a request for palitos—chopsticks. The waiter spent several minutes looking for some. He finally brought us nice bamboo ones, manufactured in China, presented in a little paper sleeve. They appeared to be intended for the American market, judging from the amount of English on it. Chinglish, rather.

Please try your Nice Chinese Food With Chopsticks the traditional and typical of Chinese glonous history and cultual.

Instructions:

1) Tuk under tnurnb and held firmly
2) Add second chcostick hold it as you hold a pencil
3) Hold tirst chopstick in originai position move the second one up and down

Now you can pick up anything:


For me, there's something comforting about reading stuff in Chinglish. I'm reassured I'm patronizing real Chinese people cooking real Chinese food, and not some "Magic Wok" stall staffed with gum-chewing teenagers named Dawna.

Your better Chinese restaurants don't insult you by offering fortune cookies. The Chinese Palace isn't one of them. My fortune read, "Si lo tienes, muestralo." (If you've got it, flaunt it.)

That's it for now. Have a glonous day.