I think I mentioned that we went to Doña J's birthday party last Monday. We had chivo, which is goat, and guajolote en mole. The goat, Don A told us, is a specialty of Monterrey. It was baby goat. I couldn't eat more than a bite -- I'm just an old softy: I can't bring myself to eat lamb or veal eithr -- but Jim ate it and liked it. the guajolote (the j is pronounced like the "ch" in challah, like in Yiddish, the final "e" is also pronounced) was from Doña J's poultry flock which runs around in an ample yard at the side of the house. The mole was from Hidalgo, the state just north and west of Veracruz. It was quite different from what we get here. It was quite savory, not at all sweet, and made with squash seeds (pipián) that made it crunchy and gave it a very good nutty flavor.
Guajolote as you may remember is turkey. It is a Nahuatl word, prehispanic. It appears there is another word, too: hueyxolotl, which means big monster, also in Nahuatl. The Spanish word for turkey is pavo. Mexicans domesticated the turkey.more than a thousand years ago. Turkey was brought from Mexico to Europe in 1511 where it evolved with human assistance partway towards what we have today in US supermarkets. THOSE turkeys, the ones USAers buy around Thanksgiving and Christmas I hear are so overfed that they can barely stand up. Some of these are bred in Mexico for sale to the US. I learned that the Latin for guajolote is Meleagris gallopavo on a blog post about guajolotes written by someone involved in agriculture called El campo es vida [agropecuario]. Unfortunately, the "about me" [Mas de mi] link was nonfunctional, so I couldn't find out anything about the author.
In our neck of the woods, guajolotes still resemble their ancestors. I was sure I had a picture -- more than one -- of a guajolote, but it was taking me too long to rummage through my somewhat chaotic photo archives, so I took one from Wikipedia.There are lots around here. When we walk across the little river in the rural ejido land which surrounds us, we pass a small homestead with guajolotes mingling with the chickens. Sometimes we see them in the colonia, too, but not so often because, I imagine, since they are bigger than chickens, they need more space. What people around here call guajolotes look kind of like turkeys, but not really. I think they must still be close to the wild guajolotes. Here is a picture from wikipedia of a wild guajolote:
Here is an engraving by an artist named Josefa García which looks more like what I'm accustomed to seeing around here:
I've now eating guajolote twice, both times a drumstick. The bone is long and thick, the meat dark, smooth and very good. Not fat like a US drumstick.
I like guajolote a lot better than baby goat though I still am too citified to want to think about eating a creature that was just that morning happily running around with the chickens next to the house I'm eating it in. Yesterday Roger Cohen wrote a column in the NY Times talking about the Chinese eating dogs, and an effort in China to ban this. How silly, Cohen thought. It's all really how we are brought up. It was an interesting column. These days, I vary between having a hard time eating meat at all and feeling that eating meat is just part of the chain of existence. I probably won't be eaten by other people, but I will be eaten by bugs and worms and swallowed into the earth unless I am too well preserved, which I hope I'm not. On the other hand, I cannot eat meat from animals raised in hideously confining conditions as if they had no feelings, condemned to terrible, short lives before they are consumed.