Whenever I eat in a restaurant, anywhere in Yucatan, I generally end up with a little wave of guilt washing over me at some point during the meal. Now, mind you, the guilt is never enough to stop me from eating, but I am always well aware of just how lucky we are to be dining out in Yucatan, rather than in the States. The following is a prime example of our most fortunate circumstances.
Originally from Louisiana, you can be certain that I am well aware of what good food is, and exactly how much it costs to dine in some of the finer establishments there. For the sake of comparison, one of my favorite meals in Louisiana is a shrimp cocktail, soup of the day and salad, and stuffed eggplant, finished off with a nice sundae and a cup of coffee. Now, such a meal is going to take a while to eat, but no hurry. Louisiana was, after all, settled by the same folks who settled Yucatan, so the need to rush through anything, especially a meal, is not part of our culture at all. Ultimately, the damage for such an evening, including tip, is just under $50.
…and then I came to Merida! …and found myself in El Pórtico Del Peregrino.
Oh-looky-looky! Shrimp cocktail, a stuffed eggplant and coconut ice cream topped with Kahlúa! Are you sure I’m not in Louisiana? Every once in a while, I still look around, just to make sure.
…and then our food begins to arrive. Three of us were eating out together that night. My shrimp cocktail came to the table and we must have looked as if we had lost our minds completely. Not one of us could make a sound! We just sat there, looking at it. It was huge! We were speechless and then began to giggle. It was beginning to dawn on us that we had no idea how much food any of us had actually ordered!
Thankfully, the soup and salad were of a reasonable size. The three of us shared my shrimp cocktail and prepared for our entrées. My stuffed eggplant was excellent, even though the stuffing had chicken in it, rather than Louisiana shrimp. When I was ordering, I was a bit worried about that but, considering the size of my shrimp cocktail, I think I had already had quite enough shrimp for one night. My stuffed eggplant was large, but not overly so. I think I only had to stop and rest once during the entire main course, but I was enjoying the company, so that was not a real problem. We were, however, all glad for a little break between our entrées and our desserts. I don’t believe I ever remember actually praying for a slow waiter at any other time in my entire life!
My coconut ice cream, topped with Kahlúa, came with a slice of almond cake. I made it through the ice cream, with the help of my coffee, but had to give the cake to one of my friends. What a blessing it was that we were headed for the Yucatecan Serenade, in Parque Santa Lucía. If ever a meal called for a walk, this one did! The total of my bill, for all of the above, in dollars, was about $17, plus tip. I just feel terrible about all those poor people, back in the States, not having the advantages we have – but what can one do? We will just have to think of them often and hope they can come and visit every now and again.
Did You Know:
The name of El Pórtico Del Peregrino is taken from a popular folk song about Alma Reed, a New York Times reporter, who covered the early excavations at Chichén Itzá. She admired the social reforms of Governor Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which were quite progressive for the times. Carrillo’s greatest accomplishments were reclaiming ejidos (communal farms) from the haciendas, legalizing birth control, giving women the right to vote, and translating the Constitution into Mayan. Reed and Carrillo fell in love and he called her La Peregrina, which means pilgrim. Reed wrote articles that helped recover artifacts that an American had taken from Chichen Itza. Their wedding was to be in January, 1924. While Reed was in San Francisco, preparing for the nuptials, angry hacienda owners paid federal troops to march Carrillo to the cemetery in Merida and execute him by firing squad. Today, the bullet holes can still be seen in the wall near his grave.
El Portico del Peregrino, or Peregrino’s as the locals call it, is located on Calle 57 halfway between Calle 62 and Calle 60.