Jan 25, 2008
Los Guanacos -- Cocina Economica, Mérida
Lunch at the cocina economica* "Los Guanacos". Owner Fernando is at center. The other two caballeros are guys who I happened to share a table with. Don't ask me how it happened, but we had a little music session while they were waiting for their food. The guy in the plaid shirt was absentmindedly plinking out a beat on the tab of his Coke can and I reflexively started blowing across the top of my bottle of Diet Coke. When I started blowing the rhythm of "Oye Como Va", the guy on the right exclaimed "bosso nova!" and joined in with a spoon on the salsa bowl.
We had an OK trio for a moment or two. Their food came right around the time the guy in plaid lost the beat. "Sin metrico," was the comment from the guy on the right, I think. Anyway, Mérida is a friendly town. And I like the food and company at Los Guanacos enough to have eaten there three times in four days. These guys are having the grilled chicken with vegetables, rice, and some kickass black bean soup for ~$2.15 US. Fernando says "tomorrow there will be fish."
*Cocinas economicas are "hole in the wall" restaurants that usually seat from four to ten people. Most offer two or three set lunches that change daily. Los Guanacos is a little bigger than most: they also offer a few regular sandwiches. Want to come? Los Guanacos is on Calle 47 between Calles 60 and 62. Open for breakfast and lunch five days a week.
Last weekend, Hostelman David and I had lunch at an eight-seater that offered just one choice on a slow weekend day: fried chicken, rice, and some beans. While we were eating (and for a while after), the owner leaned across the counter and told us a long story about her family. I didn't understand a word, but she addressed herself to me just as much as she did to David. (Apparently you can't tell that other people can't understand you if you never stop for a breath.) Eventually, David made an excuse that I needed to get to an appointment. I guess the story was even less interesting if you understood it. But the chicken was great, as was the homemade salsa.
A handful of sugar packets makes a halfway-decent substitute maraca. ;-)
Posted by: Barry Campbell | Jan 25, 2008 7:31:27 AM
Posted by: jennycook | Jan 25, 2008 10:07:04 AM
Isn't "guanaco" a slang term for "Salvadoran?" There was a restaurant on E. geer St. in Durham called "La Guanaca," owned by a Salvadoreña, and she said it was a slang term for Salvadoran.
Posted by: Lisa B | Jan 25, 2008 11:14:47 AM
Well Lisa B., the internet confirms what you say!
The owner of this restaurant grew up in Merida, but perhaps his heritage is Salvadoran. I'll ask him.
I believe that El Cuscatleco on Garrett Rd. in Durham is also a Salvadoran restaurant.
Posted by: Phil | Jan 25, 2008 12:17:38 PM
Thanks for the laugh and the song that will be stuck in my head for weeks.
Every time I hear that song for the rest of my life it will be accompanied by the vision of you blowing across the top of a coke bottle with the whole scene in toe. I may throw in some random villagers passing by singing the chorus when I re-imagine it.
Aside: We may need to try to get a nice junk band together when you get back to Durham. Can I play the wash board?
Posted by: adam schultz | Jan 28, 2008 8:51:56 AM
"I guess the story was even less interesting if you understood it."
Have truer words ever been spoken?
Posted by: barry | Jan 28, 2008 11:00:01 AM