Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea.
–Luisa, Y tu mamá también
Y tu mamá también, on the surface, is a road trip film: two teenage boys tempt an older cousin (by marriage) to a beach known as La Boca del Cielo (Heaven’s Mouth); problem is, they are pretty sure such a place doesn’t exist. But they go anyway, and as we travel with them from Mexico City to the rural coastline we learn about the code of the charloastro, empathize with the feelings of inadequacy that stem from being on display, and laugh when the inevitable happens and it’s not altogether satisfying. It’s also a coming of age film, both with regard to the two male leads (played brilliantly by real-life friends Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Benal) and to the country of Mexico itself; set right before the 2000 elections that saw the dominating party unseated after a 71-year run, we get glimpses of life in the country as it was then: random car stops, lavish parties, and the slow decimation of once-preserved natural coves. A balance of rich, poor, and those who fall somewhere in between–and a Spaniard who, like us, can’t always understand her companions and their youthful exuberance.
If you’ve never seen it, do so–though be advised that it is rather graphic in the nudity and sex departments, hardly surprising when the title comes from a pretty filthy epithet in Spanish. It will make you long for a swim in the ocean, enjoy some Coronas and eat some delicious food.
At least we could do two out of the three.
I had some big ambitions for this meal: consulting Rick Bayless’ website I found a few intriguing recipes that seemed like they would be challenging in some ways, easy in others, and combined them with a very interesting recipe from Gourmet that was nothing short of ambitious but looked too awesome not to try. Since we had the long holiday weekend and I had the Friday prior to Labor Day off, I headed down to Hell’s Kitchen and picked up some Mexican chorizo and masa harina with which to make tortillas. Saturday we’d head down to Sea Breeze to pick up the blue crabs for the soup and the rest of the ingredients we needed, and I thought I’d have everything handily taken care of.
Didn’t quite happen like that. The first issue was that Sea Breeze had no blue crabs to speak of–which should not have surprised me given that it was LABOR DAY WEEKEND. So there we were, pacing around the perimeter of the store at a complete loss of what to do, finally deciding to take advantage of the head-on shrimp they had in abundance and combine them with stone crab claws. It wasn’t perfect but it would do. We got those and some smelts and went on our way to Westside to get the rest of the ingredients.
While we were there I fortunately picked up a pack of 30 corn tortillas “just in case” something went wrong with the ones I was planning to make, figuring that having them meant I wouldn’t need them. Well, when I went to open my bag of flour…first a tiny worm-like creature creeps out from under the flap…and then I find a moth just fluttering away along the top of the flour. With a thud the whole bag went into the trashcan a minute later and the Mexico-City style quesadillas scrapped in favor of regular ones…but that’s the way it goes some days.
It ended up being a blessing, because I doubt very much we would have been able to handle that in addition to the two other dishes. I took on Rick Bayless while Michael did the Gourmet recipe, and while the latter was pretty good (the shrimp were ever-so-slightly overcooked), the tostadas were awesome. I’m not just saying that because I made them; this is a really, really solid recipe and so easy to whip up whether you’re cooking for two or for twenty. I was too impatient for them to get as crispy as they maybe should be, but keeping them a little pliant made for slightly cleaner eating.
And what do you know–according to Luisa, shrimp soup and beer are the perfect hangover remedy!