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Veronique de Turenne

Further adventures in la vida mexicana

It's 10:00 on a Wednesday night at the book festival in Guadalajara and the Jonathan Gold-led culinary outings have developed quite a following. There was that visit to the regional delights and surprises of Lonche-rita. There was a dinner in El Parian, a historic square in heart of Tlaquepaque, where a dozen small restaurants share a central mariachi-infused courtyard.

Tonight though, Pilar Perez, an organizer of the L.A. portion of the book fest, sets the agenda. First our group, which has grown to require three and sometimes four taxis, heads to a small bar in El Centro, the old colonial center of Guadalajara.guadalajara street

The streets are narrow and the buildings' plaster walls, pierced by balconies, rim the sidewalk in an unbroken facade.

We follow Pilar through a stone-lined doorway and we're in a local cantina, a pair of yellow-painted rooms with tall arches and a high, scalloped ceiling. bar

We walk by the old-fashioned bar, squeeze past tables filled with men, with a few women, and into another long room where contemporary photos, large and stunning, line the ancient walls.

Waiters push tables together and we settle in, order drinks. The room adjusts to our presence. Conversations resume, discussions progress, the guy on a date at the table across from us gets to first base.

A plate of pickled pigs feet appears at Jonathan Gold's elbow.pickled pig's feet

Tequila is passed, and so are little bowls filled with piles of salt and halves of fragrant lime.salt

We eat eat fried crunchy things. We order more beer. Our waiter leans against the wall beneath a hand-made sign, smoking a cigarette and smiling.

A trumpet player climbs a small platform, musicians quickly joined by few more musicians and they play, play so well we're entranced. He pauses, trickles out a few notes which the crowd instantly recognizes and then the whole bar, every person there, is singing.

Then it's time for la cuenta la cuenta

...and the total is shockingly small. And we're following Pilar again, back into the brick-lined streets where it's midnight now and for us, like for much of Guadalajara, the evening is just beginning.guadalajara street

Next entry: A scattering of sun, and a rainbow

More by Veronique de Turenne:
Signs of Saturday: Bu plate special, zip code edition
I totally forgot about this one
tbt: Zuma Sunset
It's Puppy Wednesday, thank goodness
Visual Valium

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