Kathleen Alcalá

The Clueless Eater

Mas de Guanajuato

April 10, 2008

The mornings in Guananjuato are cool and mild, building to a fierce late afternoon when the sun seems most intense. At eight p.m. (we are on Central Time in the U.S.) just as it is getting dark, I can look straight up and see a fingernail of moon.

There are no supermarkets in Guanajuato. To buy groceries, the choices are tiny, cave-like neighborhood shops, OXOs, which are like 7/11s, or the Mercado Hidalgo, much like Pike Place Market in Seattle. It is in a huge building intended as a train station, but as in many cities both here and in the U.S., the train never came.

Any bus running west on La Presa will take me downtown. To get back, I have to catch a bus in a tunnel. The other day, I watched a garbage truck scrape the arch in one of the tunnels, nearly dislodging a light fixture, and certainly taking down some bricks and mortar. Los Guanajuatensos want the tunnels to be declared one of the 13 wonders of Mexico. Maybe the thirteenth wonder would be appropriate.

Today, I visited El Museo Casa de Diego Rivera. Rivera was born here and left when he was six, but now that he is famous, the house has been restored and some of his work is on display, along with the work of other artists. It’s a nice house, four floors around a central courtyard, with an elaborate 19th Century fountain.

A few doors down from Casa Rivera and across Calle Positos (which is completely ripped up for repairs) is an English language bookstore, Donkey Jote. I was thrilled to find a copy of my novel, Treasures in Heaven, and even more thrilled to find that the owner Colleen Cote, had read and recommended the book. Only then did I confess that I was the author.

I continued on Calle Positos to some free art galleries at La Universidad de Guanajuato. Wonderful sculptures of leather and steel in the first gallery by Jeannette Betancourt. They resembled boats, or snowshoes, and included an amazing mask. Rather than inquire if they were for sale, I continued on to the Plaza de Baratillo, where I bought a lime, a cucumber, two tomatoes, and four tiny Talavera tiles for 2.5 pesos apiece, about 25 cents, before descending into the catacombs for the bus back to La Presa.
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Creative nonfiction, memoir, environmental sustainability.
Combining memoir, historical records, and a blueprint for sustainability, The Deepest Roots shows us how an island population can mature into responsible food stewards and reminds us that innovation, adaptation, diversity, and common sense will help us make wise decisions about our future. And along the way, we learn how food is intertwined with our present but offers a path to a better understanding of the future.
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"...a mesmerizing tale... the author explores the fascinating confusions and contradictions plaguing a culture precariously poised between tradition and modernization."
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–Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Books

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