Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dinner at "Izote" in Mexico City, 2005

At her Mexico City restaurant called "Izote", celebrated chef Patricia Quintana pays homage to the best of classic Mexican cooking. The surroundings are simple, the style is minimalistic. As I recall, there are no more than 20 tables. The menu is an eclectic combination of modern versions of pre-Hispanic dishes. It draws heavily on Mexican indigenous ingredients such as yucca flower, cactus, and corn flour.

In 2005, I had dinner at "Izote" with some friends. "Izote" is the name of the beautiful white flower that adorns the yucca plant. My job - Vice President for Human Capital - had just been eliminated due to a downsizing at the multinational corporation where I had worked for the preceding 10 years. I was in the process of deciding to found my own management consulting company, focused on the development of international human capital, rather than to seek a new position working for someone else.

Each dish at "Izote" is a delight. I finished my lamb barbecued in a banana leaf. One of my friends, familiar with Patricia Quintana's wizardry, suggested that I leave room for a " Tarta Zaachila", a chocolate pastry filled with nuts, accompanied by the traditional "café de olla", coffee flavored with cinnamon and brown sugar. As we waited for dessert, I am sure that my job-elimination anxiety had become apparent. This prompted one of my friends to share a story. Mexicans are great story-tellers. This story affected me more deeply than I expected.

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