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A list of what are, in this blogger's humble opinion, the best books about Mexico or written by Mexicans that one can find in the English language.

Mexican Society and Culture Bordering on Chaos: Mexico's Roller-Coaster Journey Toward Prosperity by Andres Oppenheimer

Despite proclaiming Castro's final hour a couple decades prematurely, Oppenhiemer, a top notch reporter for the Miami Herald produced one of the best reads about Mexico's political economy.

Politics in Mexico: The Decline of Authoritarianism by Roderic Ai Camp

I had an occasion to meet Professor camp while he was a guest at the Institute of Latin American studies at the University of Texas where I earned one of my two degrees. Very bright, very nice and just happened to write one of the best books about Mexican Politics written in the English language.

Labyrinth of Solitude by Octavio Paz

Mexico: Biography of Power by Enrique Krauze

Children of Sanchez by Oscar Lewis.

A work of sociology, Children of Sanchez remains a classic not only to that field, but to anyone looking to get insight into what life was like for everyday Mexican in a Mexico City vecindad.

Como Agua Para Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

The Death of Artemio Cruz by Carlos Fuentes

It is dedicated to C. Wright Mills, an American sociologist who wrote the must-read work, The Power Elite.

The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

This and The Comedians are my two favorites by Greene. I think everyone fan and critic of Greene is in agreement that this is his masterpiece.

Distant Neighbors: A Portrait of the Mexicans by Alan Riding

People's Guide to Mexico by Carl Franz, Lorena Havens and Steve Rogers

When I first got this book, I couldn't put it down. I just kept reading and reading. That is high praise for what is basically a travel book. Equal parts manic adventurism straight out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, a bit of Carlos Casteneda, all while being a fun and useful travel guide at the same time.

I'm going down to Rose Marie's
She never does me wrong
She puts it to me plain as day
And gives it to me for a song
It's a wicked life but what the hell
Everybody's got to eat
And I'm just the same as anyone else
When it comes to scratchin' for my meat
Goin' to Acapulco
Goin' on the run
Goin' down to see some girl
Goin' to have some fun
Yeaaaaah, goin' to have some fun
Now, whenever I get up
And can't find what I need
I just make it down to Rose Marie's
And get something quick to eat
It's not a bad way to make a living
And I ain't complainin' none
For I can blow my crumb and drink my rum
Then go on home and have some fun
Goin' to Acapulco
Goin' on the run
Goin' down to see some girl
Goin' to have some fun
Yeaaaaah, goin' to have some fun
Now, if someone offers me a joke
I just say no thanks
I try to tell it like it is
And keep away from pranks
Well, everytime you know when the well breaks down
I just go pump on it some
Rose Marie, she likes to go to big places
And just set there waitin' for me to come
Goin' to Acapulco
Goin' on the run
Goin' down to see some girl
Goin' to have some fun
Yeaaaaah, goin' to have some fun

From Bob Dylan's 1975 Album "The Basement Tapes"
"Goin' to Acapulco" (Dylan) – 5:26
Dylan - vocal, Robertson - guitar, Hudson - organ, Danko - bass, backing vocal, Manuel - drums, backing vocal

This is my favorite Acapulco song, though it's not the best song on the album which I think is Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread.

Tabachin at the Pierre Marquez. I went looking for blood, I wanted to crucify it. The previous executive chef at the Fairmonts in Acapulco, Michael Denneker, is a very good friend, so I wanted to be able to say that since his departure it had fallen apart. I cannot. It continues to be wonderful.

Three of us went. Chilled asparagus soup, quail breast stuffed with foie gras and smoked duck salad to start with left us ecstatic. If I were to be really picky I might say that the quail breast was a little heavy for a starter but I couldn’t fault the taste. We tucked into the cheapest red on the list, a Rioja Alta 2000 : Carlos Serres, which I haven’t seen in any of the shops. Light, not oakey at all, agreeable nose and lasting taste. A good modern Rioja.

Gnocci with truffle oil, Halibut with corn crust (sounds horrible but isn’t) and Filet mignon with foie gras and shitake mushrooms followed. All impeccably cooked and delicious.

We then shared a sabayon of fresh fruit (mostly strawberries with a couple of raspberries) which was a perfect ending to the dinner. A slight dent in all this praise is that the expresso wasn’t the best (or worst).

Service was slick and attentive without being overbearing.

The above feast cost a little over $2,000.00 (pesos) or $200 USD which in the USA or UK would be acceptable. In Acapulco it is very expensive but worth every peso.

I don’t really think that Ocean is a restaurant for dinner. The stark white interior and bright lights, although showing the place to be spotlessly clean, do not lend themselves to a cosy and romantic ‘dîner å deux’. So my timing was the only thing wrong about the place. We should have gone for lunch. But we should not have missed it. The menu is simple and boasts the usual seafood standards and the new sauces that are popping up all over the place such as a creamy chipotle or poblano sauce. They are not making the mistake of offering too much choice and being unable to come up with the goods. The tostadas are laden with deliciousness, almost a meal in themselves but not quite.

Quite simply, the Chef knows what he is doing. He can cook fish and does it very well indeed. His sauces are on the button and the presentation is outstanding.

My only reservation is the lack of a wine list and of course the wine itself. When we went they only offered Domecq Blanc de Blanc which has to be the most expensive paint stripper in the world. Hopefully this is a situation that will improve.

Just remember … go for lunch. But go … this place deserves your custom, and you deserve their food. It opened at the end of December 2005 and is too good to allow it to suffer the fate of the mediocre restaurants that deserve only to last a few months and do.

The great thing about the Brazilian Espada system is that if (as I was a couple of nights ago) you are eating with a large group you don’t have that agonizing and eternal ordering thing to go through. The food arrives as if by magic with a minimum of decision making (a choice of salad is never something that puts too much pressure on the little grey cells) no one forgets what they have ordered or is too engrossed in conversation to notice their fettuccine alfredo being waved round the table by a hapless waiter; so its just “oh yes please I would love some very rare fillet” or “no thanks I’ll pass on the chicken” as each cut, impaled on a ‘sword’ is presented to you. The down side is that the very best (for me picanha) always arrives last and it takes an enormous amount of self-discipline to hold back on all the delicious earlier offerings. O’Jardim is no exception to this so again I left feeling as if I had eaten half a cow. Albeit a very delicious cow.

This restaurant’s garden setting with plenty of shade/cover is a marked improvement on the barn like Brazilian restaurants of this genre.

If however you are partial to a few glasses of wine with your dinner you will be disappointed. One red and one white are on offer and both are from one of Mexico’s less distinguished producers. If you care about the future condition of your liver/brain you will eschew these offerings.

A vegetarian shouldn’t even dream of patronizing the place but any true or even part time carnivore will find it a welcome change from many of the establishments in the city yet to be reviewed. It’s a bit hard to find but worth the journey. Take your own wine.

A hunger that wasn’t going to be satisfied by anything in the fridge drove me to take the family to Los Tarascos in search of Tacos. The branch in Costa Azul is the nearest to me but they are all over Acapulco. I don’t think you can eat supper, better for less in this city.

Tacos al Pastor are my favourite and they are consistently good, not to greasy, taste yummy and the salsas are excellent… hot but good.

Should you be English… do not be put off by the resemblance to that repulsive resort of the great unwashed having just been thrown out of the pub. The Donner Kebab. Tacos al Pastor have absolutely nothing gastronomically in common with that grey apology for meat which resembles cardboard.

It is not the best decorated restaurant in town but Taquerías are not meant to be; you pop in, eat and leave, usually smelling a bit like it was you who was preparing your own supper.

Try the ‘Que me Notas’ (Al pastor with cheese, onions and bell peppers) or the Alambres de Res (beef kebabs no longer on their skewers) or Pollo (the chicken version) too. And order Chicharron de Queso as a side order. Add a couple of beers and you will leave feeling as though you won’t have to eat again for a week (Oh no…)

Believe me, if you want authentic and delicious Tacos (of all shapes and sizes) eschew the swanky places on the Costera and head a couple of hundred yards inland… You won’t be disappointed (or poisoned).

They will set up a stand for parties or functions and deliver (if you order enough). But that’s not really what Tacos are about

It is without doubt the best Japanese establishment in town and with prices that preclude riff raff you can be sure of a very civilized lunch or dinner in the company of local worthies.

The décor is ‘Japanese’ and well maintained, the garden is pretty, you can choose between inside or outside but if you want the tepenyaki I think you need to be inside. The air conditioning is a blessing.

Their scallops are good and the tepenyaki is too. Sushi is fresh and there is a comprehensive selection.

I like cold saki and they have more than one choice. They don’t stock Japanese beer to which I am also partial, but Sol is an acceptable substitute.

Should you have a craving for Japanese food after all that fish ‘a la talla’ or are sick of enchiladas, it makes a welcome change.

Once a Brazilian style ‘espadas’ restaurant, los Navegantes has re-opened as a seafood restaurant. It wasn’t much good at the Brazilian thing so I had my doubts as we trooped in for a family Sunday lunch.

A quick glance at the menu revealed a few original ideas and my interest started to grow. The prices didn’t look too killer either.

I really was surprised… I ordered fish quesadillas as starters which were light, crispy, not swimming in oil and simply delicious, especially accompanied by the albeit hot sauces. This I followed with Mariscos a la Poblana, a generous portion of fish, squid and shrimp swimming in a rich creamy green (chile poblano) sauce, such a big portion, even I couldn’t finish it. Maybe because I tried everyone else’s dishes, which included red snapper al mojo de ajo (a bit greasy) Squid in black rice, which was great, shrimp a la diabla rich and hot (chile) and a seafood casserole which I would recommend to those who are not too keen on the spicey stuff.

Conclusion: A cool restaurant (aircon), great food, pleasant if a little stark atmosphere, and will not break the bank.

I find it hard to be objective about Forza Italia, but then a restaurant critic is a subjective beast at the best of times. I have eaten there at least 30 times and it is always the restaurant of choice when I am after something good without having to hit the ATM. So if that’s not a recommendation in itself you might as well stop reading my reviews.

The food is as close to the genuine thing as you can get in Mexico, the pasta always perfectly cooked and the sauces are tasty. Try the Fettuccini Carbonara, always prepared to order and a treat. I am also partial to their pizzas, again, as they should be, prepared to order and you can invent your own from a long list of ingredients. The house wine is drinkable and also inexpensive.

I think the worst pizza I ever ate was in Venice (not the one in California), but some of the most delicious food in the world is to be found in the little trattorias tucked away in the villages of Tuscany.

Franco, the boss, is an effusive and attentive host.

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