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We’re On the History Channel!

We’re On the History Channel!

Omar and I will appear on the History Channel’s new series, “Food Tech,” in an episode about Mexican food!  We make our debut sometime in May–stay tuned for the exact airdate.  Make sure you see all photos of the shoot below!

March 15, 2009

Bobby, Dan, and Omar, shooting in Mexico for the History Channel

Bobby, Dan, and Omar, shooting in Mexico for the History Channel

We’ve always been fabulous here at 365Mexico, but now we’re famous as well.

A while back, the people who make Modern Marvels for the History Channel decided to do a new series on food—people love food programs, after all, and everybody eats.  It will be called Food Tech and debuts in April of 2009.

Mexican food being very popular and good, they decided that it will occupy the third episode of the series.  There’ll be a blurb on Tequila, another bit on chocolate production, and a third story about those carved stone pigs called molcajetes which are popping up in authentic Mexican restaurants everywhere.

The question is, “where do molcajetes come from?”  The program producers called tons of Mexican restaurants.

“You get molcajetes in the market, next to the clay pots” everyone said.

“But were do the markets get molcajetes?”

Palm-up shrugs.

So the producers called the leading museum curators and archeologists.

“Where do molcajetes come from?”

“We get ours from musty old tombs.”

“Uh, yah, great.  But if you want a brand new molcajete?”

Blank stares.

Then the producers did what you and everyone else should do whenever you want good, current, and often a little offbeat information about Mexico—they came to us at 365Mexico.

Don (AKA Don Emilio) with his work in San Lucas Evangelista.

Don Pedro (AKA Don Emilio) with his work in San Lucas Evangelista.

Remember Don Emilio?  We posted on him a while back.  He’s been sitting under an avocado tree in San Lucas Evangelista, carving basalt rock into molcajetes for going on 80 years.  We posted pictures of him and his stone pigs in the post on molcajetes.

Well, did we get an email.

As a matter of fact, we got an email right in our Spam folder.  It said “The History Channel—Molcajete Question.”

I was just about to click “Send off into the ether with all the news about a million dollars being deposited in my bank account from Burkina Faso and the extra inches I’ll be enjoying with the Deluxe Manersizer” when I thought “Hey—molcajetes!  That’s us!”

The History Channel said they were thrilled to find someone who knew someone who was still making molcajetes, and could they call?

I figured they would ask for Don Emilio’s address and that would be that.

That was not that.

“We want you and Omar on camera, interviewing Don Emilio as he makes a molcajete.  At the end of this month.  Can you do it?”

Oh my gosh.

“YES!”

Now, because I tell you everything, here is the full disclosure.  We found out about Don Emilio and his molcajetes by asking around the Tonala market.  We went to San Lucas mostly because it was a beautiful day, there is an orchid greenhouse nearby, and as an afterthought we decided to buy a molcajete for use at home.  We took pictures but did nothing with them right away—this was before 365 took off to become one of the most popular Mexico sites in the universe.

A year or so later Omar was cooking in the molcajete and we thought “molcajetes are neat–why don’t we post a blurb.”  We found the photos of Don Emilio and up they went.

Thing is, by this time we couldn’t remember the old gent’s name.  Don Emilio sounded as good as anything, and after all—what difference would it make?

It made a difference.  As things worked out, we have gotten more mail about molcajetes than almost any other subject, and I have been backtracking and explaining the name switch with a red face ever since.  Next time I’ll just be honest and say “I forgot.”

Come to find out, Don Emilio’s name is really Don Pedro.

Don Pedro was at least 80 when we first talked with him.  Now that a few years had gone by and we were safari-ing a four-man History Channel crew out into the wilds of Jalisco to hunt the elusive basalt pig,  it seemed a good idea to check that Don Pedro was still in business.  He might possibly be picking turnips with a stepladder.

It fell on Omar’s shoulders to take half a day and go out to San Lucas, find the avocado tree, and see if Don Pedro was still under it, working.

He was.

Putting the finishing touch on a molcajete.

Putting the finishing touch on a molcajete.

So Omar explained that the History Channel was making a new series, that they wanted to send a crew to interview Don Pedro about his carvings, and that they would be there in ten days.

Don Pedro smiled, nodded enthusiastically, and said “That sounds wonderful.  I have no idea what you are talking about.”

So Don Pedro took Omar to his son, who quickly proved to be even more confused than his father.

Thoroughly muddled the son finally said “I have a smart brother…,”  which brought an obvious question to Omar’s mind, but being polite, he kept quiet and followed through the thickets to the brother’s house.

“Yes, next Saturday will be fine.  I will explain to my father.  We can shoot here, and he will take the video crew to the basalt mine.”

Perfect.  We were on.

Almost.  I was finishing up a teaching job in New York, and with the shooting date coming right up, would be cutting it close, time-wise.  I said goodbye to my kids and hopped the train to New York, where I would catch the plane to Guadalajara.  Everything had to go smoothly for me to be in San Lucas on time.

Things going smoothly at the Utica train station in Upstate New York.  It is 0 degrees with a windchill of -15.  I'm taking it like a man.

Things going smoothly at the Utica train station in Upstate New York. It is 0 degrees with a windchill of -15. I'm taking it like a man.

January in Central New York, where you don't even notice a dusting of two feet.  This is 10am.

January in Central New York, where you don't even notice a dusting of two feet. This is 10am.

My hat blew off.  Lacking cranial plumage, I'm in trouble without my topper.

My hat blew off. Lacking cranial plumage, I'm in trouble without my topper.

The train station is really beautiful--I always imagine WWII veterans coming home here.  Today it isn't very busy, although most trains to New York City will pick up 10 or 12 people in Utica.

The train station is really beautiful--I always imagine WWII veterans coming home here. Today it isn't very busy, although most trains to New York City will pick up 10 or 12 people in Utica.

The carpentry and marble work is certainly from another era.  Notice the grills on top of the bench?

The carpentry and marble work is certainly from another era. Notice the grills on top of the bench?

The seats are heated!  It is a wonderful luxury in such a cold climate to sit on warm seats.

The seats are heated! It is a wonderful luxury in such a cold climate to sit on warm seats.

There's also a beautiful, old fashioned barber shop.

There's also a beautiful, old fashioned barber shop.

What a pleasure to travel on the train!  You will never see this much leg room on a plane--and you can easily get up and walk around, visit the diner car and the bathroom, and there is lots of storage overhead for your luggage.  Not all trains allow checked luggage--you have to ask.  But many cars do have a small closet in front that will fit several suitcases, even on the trains that don't check luggage.  A drawback--the train doesn't allow dogs (the bus either) so if I'm traveling with Coco it has to be by plane or car.

What a pleasure to travel on the train! You will never see this much leg room on a plane--and you can easily get up and walk around, visit the diner car and the bathroom, and there is lots of storage overhead for your luggage. Not all trains allow checked luggage--you have to ask. But many cars do have a small closet in front that will fit several suitcases, even on the trains that don't check luggage. A drawback--the train doesn't allow dogs (the bus either) so if I'm traveling with Coco it has to be by plane or car.

Upstate New  York in the winter.  Old factories and ice.  I don't mind the cold or the snow--it is the dark that gets to me.  We have measurable rain or snow half the days of the year.  Of course our good days are glorious--clean and fresh and green.

Upstate New York in the winter. Old factories and ice. I don't mind the cold or the snow--it is the dark that gets to me. We have measurable rain or snow half the days of the year. Of course our good days are glorious--clean and fresh and green.

Along the Mohawk, historic water highway of Central New York.  Not at the moment, however.

Along the Mohawk, historic water highway of Central New York. Not at the moment, however.

Cozy and warm inside, with a veggie-humus wrap and a magazine.  Heaven.  I am now packing food wherever a travel--it is invariably better than the chips and soda for sale at outrageous prices.  Potato chips on the plane were going for $3.  Yeah, right.

Cozy and warm inside, with a veggie-humus wrap and a magazine. Heaven. I am now packing food wherever a travel--it is invariably better than the chips and soda for sale at outrageous prices. Potato chips on the plane were going for $3. Yeah, right.

The passage between cars not only moves a great deal underfoot, but also becomes a huge deep freeze.

The passage between cars not only moves a great deal underfoot, but also becomes a huge deep freeze.

Albany, the state capitol.

Albany, the state capitol.

The Hudson.

The Hudson.

On my way to the tropics.  Checking to see if I'm there yet.

On my way to the tropics. Checking to see if I'm there yet.

The train bathroom.  It was nice and clean.  I get motion sick shaking my head no.

The train bathroom. It was nice and clean. I get motion sick shaking my head no.

Some city along the route.  Our incredible friend Bill met me in Penn Station and we went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway.  What a wonderful experience--the special effects were out of this world.  Next morning we were off to the airport.  I almost always fly out of Newark when I go to Guadalajara.  Syracuse is much closer to home, but it usually runs $300 higher round trip.  Plus Bill and I get to visit and see New York.

Some city along the route. Our incredible friend Bill met me in Penn Station and we went to see Mary Poppins on Broadway. What a wonderful experience--the special effects were out of this world. Next morning we were off to the airport. I almost always fly out of Newark when I go to Guadalajara. Syracuse is much closer to home, but it usually runs $300 higher round trip. Plus Bill and I get to visit and see New York.

And boom!  Like Dorothy's house landing in Oz, suddenly I'm in San Lucas Evangelista.  It's funny--I don't get culture shock until I come back to the states.

And boom! Like Dorothy's house landing in Oz, suddenly I'm in San Lucas Evangelista. It's funny--I don't get culture shock until I come back to the states.

Omar and I met the video crew at their hotel, and they followed us out to San Lucas.  The director Paul, in the brown shirt, and the series host Bobby Bognar, in blue, look over locations and share a laugh.  The man with his back to us is Luis Antonio, Omar and my cousin, who came along to help (and who took some of these photos).  I'm behind Toño, waiting for a mango to fall from the tree.

Omar and I met the video crew at their hotel, and they followed us out to San Lucas. The director Paul, in the brown shirt, and the series host Bobby Bognar, in blue, look over locations and share a laugh. The man with his back to us is Luis Antonio, Omar and my cousin, who came along to help (and who took some of these photos). I'm behind Toño, waiting for a mango to fall from the tree.

It looks like I'm ready to be cuffed or tazered or something, but actually Jim the audio technician is putting on my microphone.  He then turned to Omar and said "lift up your shirt."  Omar gave me a look that would peel paint.  You see, Omar is shy and told me he would help with anything, as long as he didn't have to be on camera.  And I said "OK, of course!"  And the producers said "Omar is gorgeous and he is Mexican--he has to be on camera.  And I said "OK, of course!"  I thought I would figure it out later.  It worked out fine in the end.  Kind of.

It looks like I'm ready to be cuffed or tazered or something, but actually Jim the audio technician is putting on my microphone. He then turned to Omar and said "lift up your shirt." Omar gave me a look that would peel paint. You see, Omar is shy and told me he would help with anything, as long as he didn't have to be on camera. And I said "OK, of course!" And the producers said "Omar is gorgeous and he is Mexican--he has to be on camera. And I said "OK, of course!" I thought I would figure it out later. It worked out fine in the end. Kind of.

The morning light was beautiful, and we decided to get an establishing shot of the town with some dialogue of how we found Don Pedro and why molcajetes are so important to Mexican cooking.  Bobby told Omar, slowly and clearly "I'm going to ask you about the Mexican tradition of using molcajetes."  Omar, with a pasted on smile says to me "The theengs you get me into!  Do I have to say everything in Eengleesh?"  "Uh, yah."  Then we got the cue to very naturally walk through town, talking.  Bobby turns to Omar and says "Iknowthemolcajeteisveryimportant intraditionalMexicancookingjustwhatquality doesitimparttothefoodthatmakesit somuchdifferent?"  Even I had trouble understanding the question.  I held my breath.  "Well, Bobby, in traditional cooking in my country the molcajete is very important because it imparts an almost magical quality to the food."  Have I mentioned Omar is incredible?

The morning light was beautiful, and we decided to get an establishing shot of the town with some dialogue of how we found Don Pedro and why molcajetes are so important to Mexican cooking. Bobby told Omar, slowly and clearly "I'm going to ask you about the Mexican tradition of using molcajetes." Omar, with a pasted on smile says to me "The theengs you get me into! Do I have to say everything in Eengleesh?" "Uh, yah." Then we got the cue to very naturally walk through town, talking. Bobby turns to Omar and says "Iknowthemolcajeteisveryimportant intraditionalMexicancookingjustwhatquality doesitimparttothefoodthatmakesit somuchdifferent?" Even I had trouble understanding the question. I held my breath. "Well, Bobby, in traditional cooking in my country the molcajete is very important because it imparts an almost magical quality to the food." Have I mentioned Omar is incredible?

Making a point about molcajetes while Alex records.

Making a point about molcajetes while Alex records.

Finally we were ready for Don Pedro.  Omar helps wire him for sound.

Finally we were ready for Don Pedro. Omar helps wire him for sound.

Don Pedro was a natural--and a real trooper.  We would explain to him what we were going to do, and then he would patiently listen to us babble in English as we did our work. We often asked him the same question 3 different times as the crew shot various angles, but he never became flustered or tired.  As a matter of fact, he sang love songs for us!

Don Pedro was a natural--and a real trooper. We would explain to him what we were going to do, and then he would patiently listen to us babble in English as we did our work. We often asked him the same question 3 different times as the crew shot various angles, but he never became flustered or tired. As a matter of fact, he sang love songs for us!

First Don Pedro took us on a rough dirt road into the hills above town to the basalt "mine," a narrow vein of the hard, volcanic mineral.

First Don Pedro took us on a rough dirt road into the hills above town to the basalt "mine," a narrow vein of the hard, volcanic mineral.

The overlying soil must be shoveled off--all by hand--to reveal the basalt vein.  The "mine" is probably 100 feet wide and more than a mile long.

The overlying soil must be shoveled off--all by hand--to reveal the basalt vein. The "mine" is probably 100 feet wide and more than a mile long.

Don Pedro describes the perfect "molcajete rock."

Don Pedro describes the perfect "molcajete rock."

Don Pedro kept us laughing with his stories.  He has been excavating this quarry for 77 years, and used to carry the heavy stones back home by burro.

Don Pedro kept us laughing with his stories. He has been excavating this quarry for 77 years, and used to carry the heavy stones back home by burro.

Don Pedro climbed into the mine along a tiny, slippery trail.  To get all the video equipment to the bottom, we had to find a more level route.

Don Pedro climbed into the mine along a tiny, slippery trail. To get all the video equipment to the bottom, we had to find a more level route.

In the quarry, dug by hand over almost eight decades by Don Pedro.

In the quarry, dug by hand over almost eight decades by Don Pedro.

Don Pedro turned over several rocks, finally chosing one as a good candidate for a molcajete, and started to carry it out of the quarry.  We stopped him and lifted the rock.  It had to have been 60 pounds, easy.  Bobby carried the rock for a while on camera, and believe me, it was heavy.

Don Pedro turned over several rocks, finally chosing one as a good candidate for a molcajete, and started to carry it out of the quarry. We stopped him and lifted the rock. It had to have been 60 pounds, easy. Bobby carried the rock for a while on camera, and believe me, it was heavy.

You got that OK, Bobby?

You got that OK, Bobby?

Don Pedro tries not to laugh--"So much drama over a little rock!"

Don Pedro tries not to laugh--"So much drama over a little rock!"

The view from the quarry.  Lake Cajitilán in the background.  Omar and my house would be in the far distance, behind the tree.

The view from the quarry. Lake Cajitilán in the background. Omar and my house would be in the far distance, behind the tree.

San Lucas Evangelista as seen by Google Earth.  Lake Cajitilán to the northeast.  The quarry is the jagged white line near the bottom of the image.  If you look in the light grey trapazoid-shaped field just north of the quarry, you can see the tree that is pictured in the previous image.  What cool stuff!

San Lucas Evangelista as seen by Google Earth. Lake Cajitilán to the northeast. The quarry is the jagged white line near the bottom of the image. If you look in the light grey trapazoid-shaped field just north of the quarry, you can see the tree that is pictured in the previous image. What cool stuff!

A huge, rough cut of a molcajete.  That's a lot of salsa!

A huge, rough cut of a molcajete. That's a lot of salsa!

A nopal cactus.  We eat the "pads" of these quite frequently--they are delicious grilled.  They are also used in drinks because they are full of fiber and very healthy.  Only thing is you have to drink then fast, because they are so full of fiber they quickly "set up" into a thick gel!

A nopal cactus. We eat the "pads" of these quite frequently--they are delicious grilled. They are also used in drinks because they are full of fiber and very healthy. Only thing is you have to drink then fast, because they are so full of fiber they quickly "set up" into a thick gel!

Back under his avocado tree (there are limes and guavas mixed in too) Don Pedro prepares to start making a molcajete.  He carves many other things as well--Virgins and even whimsical items, like the Coca-Cola bottles you see at his feet.

Back under his avocado tree (there are limes and guavas mixed in too) Don Pedro prepares to start making a molcajete. He carves many other things as well--Virgins and even whimsical items, like the Coca-Cola bottles you see at his feet.

Bobby learns how to carve a molcajete--but it isn't as easy as it looks!  Don Pedro makes his own tools, and I asked him if he ever mis-swung and hurt himself.  He smiled and showed me where he had nearly cut off a finger with a sharp chisel.  "Did you go to the doctor's?"  "Not at first.  I just put lime juice on my finger and put it back.  By the time I went to the doctor he said my finger had stuck together, so I guess I'm alright."

Bobby learns how to carve a molcajete--but it isn't as easy as it looks! Don Pedro makes his own tools, and I asked him if he ever mis-swung and hurt himself. He smiled and showed me where he had nearly cut off a finger with a sharp chisel. "Did you go to the doctor's?" "Not at first. I just put lime juice on my finger and put it back. By the time I went to the doctor he said my finger had stuck together, so I guess I'm alright."

We inspect Bobby's molcajete.  Bobby is a lot of fun--knowledgeable about food, an accomplished chef, great on camera--we just loved working with him.  The whole crew were so professional and hard working, they made it look easy to lug around video equipment to remote sites and shoot all of the elements of a story--in two languages.  They thought to bring us a boxed lunch too, which sure was appreciated.  It was an enjoyable and memorable day working with everyone.  To see the rest of the story, tune into "Food Tech" on the History Channel, starting in April.  We will soon be posting the exact airdate of our Mexican Food episode.  Write us at e365mexico@yahoo.com and tell us what you think!We inspect Bobby's molcajete.  Bobby is a lot of fun--knowledgeable about food, an accomplished chef, great on camera--we just loved working with him.  The whole crew were so professional and hard working, they made it look easy to lug around video equipment to remote sites and shoot all of the elements of a story--in two languages.  They thought to bring us a boxed lunch too, which sure was appreciated.  It was an enjoyable and memorable day working with everyone.  To see the rest of the story, tune into "Food Tech" on the History Channel, starting in April.  We will soon be posting the exact airdate of our Mexican Food episode.  Write us at e365mexico@yahoo.com and tell us what you think!

We inspect Bobby's molcajete. Bobby is a lot of fun--knowledgeable about food, an accomplished chef, great on camera--we just loved working with him. The whole crew were so professional and hard working, they made it look easy to lug around video equipment to remote sites and shoot all of the elements of a story--in two languages. They thought to bring us a boxed lunch too, which sure was appreciated. It was an enjoyable and memorable day working with everyone. To see the rest of the story, tune into "Food Tech" on the History Channel, starting in April. We will soon be posting the exact airdate of our Mexican Food episode. Write us at e365mexico@yahoo.com and tell us what you think!We inspect Bobby's molcajete. Bobby is a lot of fun--knowledgeable about food, an accomplished chef, great on camera--we just loved working with him. The whole crew were so professional and hard working, they made it look easy to lug around video equipment to remote sites and shoot all of the elements of a story--in two languages. They thought to bring us a boxed lunch too, which sure was appreciated. It was an enjoyable and memorable day working with everyone. To see the rest of the story, tune into "Food Tech" on the History Channel, starting in April. We will soon be posting the exact airdate of our Mexican Food episode. Write us at e365mexico@yahoo.com and tell us what you think!

The star of the show, 84 year-old Don Pedro, master carver and, proud to say, our friend.

The star of the show, 84 year-old Don Pedro, master carver and, proud to say, our friend.

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9 comments to We’re On the History Channel!

  • Patty Albin

    Hello,

    I’m writing about – guess what – Don Pedro’s molcajetes. Are they for sale? How much are they? Do you sell them in Mexico? If so where? Are they available by mail order? If so, how do I go about ordering one?

    Thank you in advance,
    Patty

  • MC

    I LOVE this post. The transition from winter in Utica, NY’s train station to warm sunny Mexico is great.

  • Did you see your episode of Food Tech last week? It turned out awesome! So awesome, in fact, that a few of my friends have asked to buy some of Don Emilio’s (Pedro) molcajetes. Would you facilitate the sale of say, ten molcajetes to my fans? I know it would be a hassle, but it would be good for Don Pedro. Shipping would be the worst, but I think my fans would pay some money for them, and I would love to help him out if I could.
    Email me, and I will send you my phone number and we can talk more…if you can’t do it, I understand, but wanted to at least try.
    Sincerely,
    bobby bognar

  • cassandra shelton

    please tell me where I can buy Don Pedro’s molcajetes!! Thanks!

  • Hi Bobby! It is great to hear from you. Congratulations on your show! I’ve been away for several days so I’m just getting back to mail now.

    No, I’m back in Guadalajara so I haven’t seen our episode yet, although it has aired at least 4 times that I know of and friends have taped it for us. As a matter of fact, they held a premiere party and took photos of me on their television, which was weird and wonderful. I’m enjoying the fame.

    Bobby, I would love to help out Don Pedro and sell molcajetes. As a matter of fact, lots of people are writing. As you guessed, the problem is in shipping. A medium molcajete weighs 20 or 25 pounds. It would have to go by DHL or Fedex because our mail here is pretty much nonexistent. But people do seem to pay for what they want! Let me look into prices and I’ll let you know.

    Thanks again for being our host! It was the most incredible adventure. It came at a real hard time–I was caring for my Mom in New York and she passed away a few days after I got back. Omar says he is glad he didn’t appear–he is very shy and thinks he is ugly (!?). But I thought the shot of us walking through town was beautiful, with the morning light and all. Remember all the teenage girls hanging out the windows giggling and flirting with Omar? Or was it with us…?

    Huge hugs–tell everybody about 365Mexico for us!

    Dan Sanders

  • MC, thanks for your comments! As you know I have been working on other things, and now coming back to 365 I find lots of comments–including one from Bobby Bogner, our host on Food Tech! Life is so neat sometimes. Thanks for sharing it with me.

    Dan

  • Patty, thank you so much for writng. I have been away and am just getting to mail now.

    Lots of folks are writing about Don Pedro’s molcajetes. I am looking for the best shipping method. They are very heavy, of course–a medium one is between 20 and 30 pounds–and they would have to ship by DHL or Fedex because our mail service in Mexico is pretty much non-existent. Bobby Bogner, the host of Food Tech, just wrote to ask if he could get a bunch of molcajetes too, so there sure is interest. I will write you back once I get prices.

    Thanks again,

    Dan Sander

  • Dan Rivers

    I never saw a response post as to how to purchase some of Don Pedro’s molcajetes. Real human stories like this are rare in television today. That portion of the episode re-aired today is definitely my favorite.

  • Yeimy

    HELLO GOOD STORY IN MY TOWN, MY GRANDFATHER IS DON PEDRO, THE FACTORY MOLCAJETES. THANK YOU FOR THE NOTE.

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