Mansaf in Jordan
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Finding a good eatery is a fine art, best practiced when you’re not in a state of hysterical starvation, but instead only pestered by mild hunger that still allows for careful evaluation. In one such mood, we discovered “El Amigo Pastarano”, probably the fiftieth barbacoa de chivo joint we passed on a short stretch of Highway 200, in southern Guerrero. “This is the one!” I said, noting the banner that advertized homemade tortillas, free consome, and beer. I was also heartened by the sight of the proprietor standing by in a crisp apron, smiling like a cat who knew where to find all the good canaries. His name is Jose Guadalupe, and he is preternaturally polite. Seriously, the man has the manners of a 19th Century diplomat. Mindful of the dull-witted gringos, he carefully enunciated his formal Spanish, and explained everything in triplicate, followed by many “para servirles” and “lo que prefiere“. His manner was not so much obsequious as measured, his finely-tuned and melodious voice perhaps better suited to hosting a classical music program on public radio than to describing the location of tripe on a goat’s physique. Fortunately, his expertise extended beyond etiquette and into the culinary realms. We ordered three “platitos” of goat for 45 pesos each. We elected to go with a little of everything, including tripe, stomach, and fat, and Jose Guadalupe gravely informed us that if the tripe was not to our liking, he would gladly replace it with any part of the animal that our hearts desired.
First Jose Guadalupe brought us tiny plastic cups of “consome”, which he set before us as though presenting jewels for a royal inspection. The consome was basically birria broth–piping hot and greasy, with a rich texture and a whiff of fire and brimstone. Next, and served with a flourish, came Styrofoam plates heaped with goat meat, including a scary looking pile of chopped tripe, which was decidedly more daunting than the grilled tripe we’d eaten in Oaxaca. The meat was superb–rich and spicy, tempered by the taste of smoke and the earthen pot from whence it emerged, dripping hot savory grease. The stomach had a silky texture that disconcerted Gina, who is usually a bold eater. Luckily, pretty much anything is good when wrapped in a homemade tortilla and doused with lime, barbecue grease, and salsa verde.
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