13 September 2009

Something fishy at Rancho Cárdenas

Saturday Gina and I took a ride in the country and we had another nice little adventure. I had heard from my Salamanca friend, "El Machete" (Constancio Conejo Moreno), that in the community of Rancho Cárdenas (Municipality of Salamanca) that there is a restaurant where they serve fresh fish. Of course, there is nothing special about a restaurant that serves fish but at this restaurant you can choose the fish that you want to eat while it is still swimming around and if you want to, you can even catch it yourself. Being a old fisherman I couldn't resist the urge to check this out and I was not disappointed. We found the place to be delightful and something a bit out of the ordinary. The restaurant is called "Tapia" and it is owned and managed by Señor José Tapia Almanza and his wife Señora Guadalupe Ortega. It has been in operation for fifteen years. It was the brainchild of one of their sons who is a biologist. We arrived a bit early for lunch but that was okay because it gave me an opportunity to take some pictures and get to know Doña Lupe which is the name by which most people know Guadalupe. She gave us the grand tour. It turns out that Gina knows her son Noe from the time that she studied for her master's degree at the University of La Salle, Salamanca Campus. Noe is the Director of Accounting Studies.

As you can see in the photos below the restaurant is like a big barn. There is a trough running down one side where they keep catfish and moharra that they raise in ponds alongside the restaurant. They net the fish in the ponds as they need them and store them in the trough until they are ready to be cooked. If you want a particular fish you just point it out and a man will catch it in a dip net and deliver it to the cook. In no time at all the fish will be cooked to order in whatever style you wish and delivered to your table. I think that the only way that you could eat fish fresher than that is by swallowing it whole while it is still alive. Needless to say the fish that we ate along with rice and what they call "papas" (what I call "hush puppies") was out of his world. We also had a delicious side plate of "tacos de hueva" which are tacos made with golden fish roe and they were very tasty indeed. Doña Lupe took us out to the ponds and she threw in some stale bread so that we could see the fish. As she threw in each piece the water seemed to boil with activity beneath it and the bread soon disappeared. She told us that people like to bring their kids to fish in the ponds. They will either cook the fish that you catch for you or you can take it home by paying for it by the pound. That sounds great to me. I am going to round up some kids and some cane poles and bring them with me so that I can teach them how to fish and have a chance to wet a line myself. Heck, if the kids want I will do all the fishing and they can just watch. Hmmm, if they don't behave themselves perhaps I could even use them for bait. Nahhhh, just kidding.

If you would like to go, you should go on a Saturday or Sunday. This is an easy place to find. If you are coming from Irapuato you need to make a left onto the "Faja de Oro" at the Xidoo glorieta as you enter Salamanca. Then make a left at "Cazadora" and follow it to Rancho Cárdenas. If you are coming from San Miguel or Celaya on the autopista you can exit at Salamanca and head toward the center of town and make a right on "Faja de Oro" and follow it several kilometers and make a right on "Cazadora" and follow it out to Rancho Cárdenas. About halfway through the little town and before you get to the church the road will split. The paved road goes to the left over a low bridge. Go to the right instead and follow the canal about 500 meters and make a right at the gate with the "Sol Cerveza" markings. Park anywhere you want and be prepared to be treated like family. See the maps below (click on maps to enlarge).


norm said...

I knew a man who raised trout in his pond for the table. He claimed that pound for pound that it was cheaper than growing hogs. He had a problem with snapping turtles eating the mature fish so he ran big hooks baited with fish heads to thin them out. He used the turtle shells to inlay his art work-I think he ate the turtles to.

Don Cuevas said...

Mmmm! Catfish with hush puppies.

We cooked that, in full Southern U.S. style, a few years ago.


Bob Mrotek said...

Mmmmmm...turtle soup!

Don Cuevas,
Hey, Let's go fishing! I will clean the fish if you do the cooking :)

YayaOrchid said...

Bob, what a beautiful place to visit, even without the option of eating fish. Is that a natural lake or manmade? I like it and wish I could visit. Boy, you are so good with maps and showing us locations. Wish I could be as good with the computer as you old friend!

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I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. I have been living in Mexico since January 6th, 1999. I am continually studying to improve my knowledge of the Spanish language and Mexican history and culture. I am also a student of Mandarin Chinese.