Last October I mentioned on this blog that I worked as a consultant for Anthony Bourdain and the crew of his show No Reservations while they filmed part of an episode in Mexico City. Various readers wrote and asked when it would be broadcast. U.S. readers take note: It airs Monday, January 5th. It will be shown in Mexico considerably later; I’ll let you know when I have more information.
The two photos below were taken at a cantina called La Mascota on the corner of Calle Mesones and Calle Bolívar in the centro histórico. It was one of my recommendations for the shoot. La Mascota is a traditional place, that has luckily not been remodeled with stucco ceilings or canteloupe-colored walls. The botanas – free food served in the afternoon, so long as you pay for your drinks – are first-rate.
The fellow on the extreme right in the green T-shirt is Carlos Llaguno, from Puebla, who made his way to New York, where he found work as a dishwasher at Bourdain’s restaurant Les Halles. Little by little, he worked his way up in the kitchen, and not long after Bourdain threw in the apron to become a full-time media personality, Carlos was promoted to chef. Nearly all the kitchens of New York restaurants employ Mexicans, but Bourdain told me that Les Halles is the only one where a Mexican has actually risen to become #1, el jefe.
So three cheers for Carlos, who is living the Mexican dream, along with his girlfriend Emily Cummings, who happens to be a Ford model. Immigration foes are cordially invited to eat their hearts out.
A few weeks ago I got a call from a production company in New York. Called Zero Point Zero, they make Anthony Bourdain’s show No Reservations. They were wondering if I might be able to help them out while preparing to shoot a program in Mexico City.
They didn’t have to ask twice. I admire Bourdain and, having spent a couple of years of my youth working in restaurants, believe his book Kitchen Confidential is essential, one that had to be written. He is also one of the few people in the world I envy: Who wouldn’t like to be paid to travel around the world and eat?
In any case, I not only recommended some of my favorite restaurants, cantinas and stalls for eating street food, I was also able to spend some time with the crew while they were in town shooting. Bourdain – who everyone calls “Tony” – did not disappoint. Indeed, he fulfilled all expectations. The Lenny Bruce of cookery, he frequently spoke in uninterrupted monologues full of jokes of a scatological or sexual nature (sometimes both), jokes that would probably result in a lawsuit if I were to repeat them here.
The show is set to air early next year. Tony is pictured above sampling what is known as a taco sudado – a “sweaty taco,” so-called because after being fried in the morning they spend the next hours steaming in a basket until they sell out. They are the cheapest tacos in Mexico City and, in my opinion, sublime. There will be another post at a future date about Juan Monsalvo, the sweaty taco salesman under the umbrella.