I invited my mother to go away with me for a week. I didn’t tell her where. My hope was to show her a new Baja and re-inspire her interest and affection for this place she used to enjoy so that we could share it together.
We arose bright and early though the sun was still hidden behind a formidable marine layer. It was Day 2 of “Joyce’s Mystery Trip” – a present I gave my mom for her 75th birthday. First stop? The Monday Market in Colonia Santa Anita.
The Monday Market is part flea market, part farmers market, as are many local markets in Northern Baja. Though I used to go for the bargains – a practically new pair of Converse sneakers once and Juiceman Junior on another occasion – I now go for one reason. Birria. It’s that delicious.
“Dos tacos dorados” (two crispy tacos) is my order, which I doubled as my mom and I sat down on the wooden picnic tables under the red tent-like awning advertising Birria de Res. (Birria is beef brisket cooked long and slow with many spices.) Sitting with our feet on the dusty ground it struck me that it was quite atypical of the suburban Orange County where I grew up. My mom’s empty plate told me that she enjoyed it as much as I hoped.
After a relaxing afternoon including a walk along the beach it was time for the other ‘local’ event of the day – what I affectionately call a ‘patio party.’
Because I grew up spending most weekends in Baja – my grandmother lived here and I now live in her house – I have many childhood memories here. One is the patio party, a gathering of neighbors in the early evening for cocktails and munchies — not so much work as dinner and, since the house is small, more space for mingling with neighbors and enjoying what thankfully was a beautiful warm evening.
My mom had spent many an evening patio party with my grandmother and her contemporaries so I wanted to give her a taste of the tradition as it continued these many decades later, with a new community of neighbors.
“How wonderful to meet everyone, and how pleased Mama would be to know that her tradition lives on,” my mom shared as we cleaned up after everyone had gone home.
But it was the following week on the phone that I realized how much of an impact our ‘local’ experience had meant to my mom.
“I’m on my way to get birria,” I explained as I said my goodbyes.
“Oh it is Monday, isn’t it? Oh I wish I could have a birria taco too!