Reading for the Day: Tenochtitlan

The narrative of 1491 marches inexorably on (and so, in fact, does self’s rampaging insomnia: this morning, fell asleep at 3:30 a.m., awakened by Gracie at 6:45 — aaaargh!) We have now left behind the Inkas of Peru and are now with Hernan Cortes in Mexico.

Here is Hernan Cortes’ description of his first impression of Motecuhzoma, who ruled his empire from a city built on an artificial island in the middle of a great mountain lake, the “enormous, opulent” city of Tenochtitlan:

Can there be anything more magnificent than that this barbarian lord should have all the things to be found under the heavens in his domain, fashioned in gold and silver and jewel and feathers? And so realistic in gold and silver that no smith in the world could have done better? And in jewels so fine that it is impossible to imagine with what instruments they were cut so perfectly? . . . In Spain there is nothing to compare with it.

Naturally, the Spaniards seized the fabled ruler, and were chased back across the causeways that linked the island city to the mainland. The Mexica “destroyed the causeways in front of the Spaniards”, but “the surviving Europeans were able to cross the gaps because they were so choked with the dead that the men could walk on the bodies of their countrymen. Because the Mexica did not view the goal of warfare as wiping out enemies to the last man, they did not hunt down the last Spaniards. A costly mistake . . .” (p. 127)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

Saturday Night: Half Moon Bay

Ahhh, it’s been a very good evening. Had dinner in Half Moon Bay. For sheer atmosphere, drive to the coast at night can’t be beat. Never mind that, on the way back — hubby wasn’t feeling well, so self went solo — self was tailed for over a mile by a cop. On the CD player: James Blunt. Self blithely sang along to “You’re Beautiful” (Son says his Mom is so “emo”). Ate: crostini; scallops sauteed in butter; salad with avocado, fresh fennel and grapefruit; wild rice with quinoa; fresh asparagus. Self’s contribution was clam chowder (her first attempt!) Dessert was lemon cookies (baked by Diane as the rest of us were finishing up dinner), topped with fresh strawberries. Self had two glasses of champagne with hibiscus. Occasion: none. Simply an excuse to eat. Heaven!

Champagne With Hibiscus (Self had two of these)

Champagne With Hibiscus (Self had two of these -- !)

Decision was made to have the next dinner (in mid-July) be Filipino-themed. Self will send around links to Filipino food blogs, so people can choose which dishes they can try to make. No one in the group’s ever been to the Philippines, so self thinks it will be fun to bring along some Filipino books and magazines. Fun!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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