By Frank McMains
A New Cazuela
The jeep swayed around the ruts and potholes along the edge of the San Miguel reservoir, down a grassy, well-traveled lane, past brick kilns fired orange and black, toward the house of Don Esteban. On the console rested a warm bag filled with chicharones and carnitas, our contribution to lunch. After all, food was the reason for our visit. A few days earlier I had taken a cooking class from chef Paco Cárdenas. According to Paco, making Mexican food required more than good ingredients; you also needed a good earthenware pot, a cazuela. Now he was taking me to get one.
Don Esteban stood in the hard-packed dirt courtyard of his low-roofed house and watched his grandchildren play marbles. He was over 80 but unbowed by age. He stood stock straight in his patched jeans and dust-covered sandals, like the decades spent crafting vessels from the local clay had made him into a monument, imbued with the earth beneath him...
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