Jack, a born and raised New Yorker, is a true food Jew. He knows little about the religion and isn’t interested in the religious practice, but deli food is among his favorites. It’s difficult to find in San Miguel unless you shop at the big box stores owned by Costco or Walmart where they may have unique items a cab ride away. We prefer to do our shopping at small markets and individual vendor stalls in our neighborhood to support Mexican locals. We are also on a list for ex-pats where people post all kinds of information, from referrals for doctors, to recommendations for restaurants, to puppies needing a home. One day a note appeared on the list from someone who makes smoked salmon and delivers it to your house. That got Jack salivating. He called the guy and at 9:00 the next day, as scheduled, this ex-pat from the US showed up at our door with the goods in hand. It wasn’t sliced, it was just a half a kilo of smoked salmon that required slicing. But at least the salmon was in the fridge.
We planned on having it for brunch later that day. We had the onions and tomatoes to go with it, but what about bagels and cream cheese? He was lusting for a good bagel sandwich, not a tortilla, corn or wheat, but a good old fashioned bagel, preferrably an everything type, but any good bagel would do. So we set off for Calle Stirling Dickinson, a street in San Antonio, the neighborhood where we live that has a kind of a low-rent area for coffee shops, bakeries and restaurants that happens to serve some of the best food we’ve eaten in San Miguel. Since Jack speaks no Spanish, and I can manage to say what I need and be understood, I’m the one who goes into stores. No bagels in three bakeries, but the fourth, a tiny hole-in-the wall Italian bakery that makes some of the best bread in town had just what we were after. Cream cheese was a different problem altogether. I said cream cheese in Spanish at the shops, but no one had any idea what I was talking about. So we trudged on to the organic market in a different area altogether and there it was in the fridge. We came home with our goodies, Jack got out the knife and attacked the salmon. I can’t say the results were thin, beautiful slices like you get at Zabar’s that are "thin enough that you can read the New York Times through them," according to an employee at Zabar's, but our salmon was delicious anyway, and Jack was completely satisfied. He had had his fix.
The next day before going to an alternative design fair downtown, we tried out a new restaurant in our area called La Frontera, a backyard affair behind a big wood gate with a few tables set up at a distance from each other. It had been recommended by several people who raved about the quality of the food, the service, and the friendliness of the staff. What no one mentioned was that the mission of the restaurant is to provide both Mexican and North American comfort food—-and both matzah ball soup and chopped liver were on the menu! We ordered both as appetizers, but they each could have made a meal by themselves. The chopped liver was as delicious as any I’d ever tasted, and the matzah balls could compete with the best in the soups served at any Passover meal in New York.
San Miguel has everything a person could want. It just takes three times as long to find it. If Jack didn’t think it was heaven here before, he certainly does now. Getting him to leave is definitely going to be a problem.