Yesterday morning looked less than promising for the
2010 Paella Festival at Cortez Hotel in San Felipe.
The weather was one third of a half-wit, complete with
drooling lower lip. And then, perhaps because of social
pressure or the need to appear charitable, the half-wit
quickly transformed into a full-wit and presented for
the festival a warm, shiny complexion, complete with
clear blue eyes. The gastrological forecast was heartening.
There was an excellent turnout for this year's Paella.
Last year's cramped quarters inspired the Cortez Hotel
to made the beach available for an added number of Tecate
tents where the crowd could enjoy the featured comestibles
in a shaded place.
Local restaurants vied for honors over smoking cauldrons,
griddles, pots and barrels as the afternoon breeze threw
lassos of cooking aromas around the noses of the expectant
patrons who walked by the colorful food venues, absently
rubbing the pocket where their meal tickets resided.
A stage had been erected on the beach where a DJ piloted
the equipment through a medley of music. Unfortunately,
the traditional mariachi band didn't arrive until late
Aside from the numerous tents that offered food, booze
and cigars, the center of attention seemed to be the
customary preparation of a rice, shrimp, clams and lobster
dish in an enormous saucer whose size suggested the
severed nose of a 747. The giant metal tureen was placed
over a bed of hot coals and three men brandishing oars
began paddling like coureurs de bois as rice,
butter, shrimp and spices where dumped into the cavity.
When the ingredients were sufficiently mixed, a makeshift
lid of plywood, layered on one side with aluminum foil,
was lowered onto the tureen and wedges were driven through
its handles to pin the cover tight against the rim.
Everyone appeared to enjoy the food and no one went
hungry, except the vegetarians.