Chac-Mool and Me   14 comments

 Maya Chac Mool

“How much do you want for your brother?”, asked the short dark-haired douche-bag, hoping to have my ready assent and a few intimate moments with my traveling companion.

After a day of climbing pyramids and exploring altars built for human sacrifice at Chichen Itza, we headed for the nearest pueblito (little village) to catch some local culture.  I did not think I would have to sacrifice my companion in this little placita.  I know there are perverts the world over, but still, these words caught me unexpectedly.  First off, I was with a female friend, Barbara, short-haired and Lesbian.  Second, I don’t have a brother.  

[How did I end up travelling with a Lesbian to Mexico?  Long story, for another time.]

And though we were on holiday, this was their real world– not Disney’s vision of the Yucatan– with an ancient history and traditions to match. 

Covered in blue paint  and forced to lie on his back across a polished black altar. He would be held tightly at wrists and ankles.  The pounding of deerskin covered drums filled the smokey air as the priest raised the black, obsidian knife over him. Plunging the glassy ebony-colored knife into the his chest, blood explodes from the open wound spattering across the grey stone blocks on which the altar rested.  The priest’s hand quickly follows the expertly carved path of the blade and in moments extracts a still pounding heart from a gaping  crimson hole, in the thrashing upper torso.  Behold!  A gift for Chac.

Arriving late one afternoon at the placita (town square) there were a number of families all hanging out including some of the prettiest village girls in traditional Mexican weekend dresses.  It was a moment of blissful innocence.  Kind of like Epcot only legit.  And we were caught up in the halo of that moment.

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As the sun set, the pretty girls disappeared quietly, and without our realizing it, creatures of the dark emerged from the shadows.  These were the descendants of the children of Chac-Mool.  The swiftness of the transition took us by surprise.  But still, for some reason, we decided to hang on a bit longer.  Perhaps it was the goings on– or the lack thereof– back at Hotel Ennui that kept us there.  Perhaps we just revel in being in a different place, a new adventure beginning.  Maybe because our guard was down in the afterglow of the scene we had embedded ourselves into while there was daylight, we felt unthreatened.  

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One fellow came up to me and asked for a light for his cig.  “No tengo fosforos,” I said–  I don’t have any matches.  We were being tested and it felt like it.  “He speaks spanish”, I could almost hear them say.  We were being sized up.  A few moments later, came the contractual offer from another for a few private moments with my “brother”.  

OK… Time for us to leave.  

Emptying of life as the blood drained away, the eyes resigned themselves to the ignoble end.  Agape, the mouth’s silenced scream echoed the hollowed eyes.  Acceptance.  And then the body’s convulsions were quieted.  Discarded– it tumbled down the steep blood-soaked steps that were too narrow to climb except by walking sideways.  Limbs flailing akimbo, bones snapping, the torso thudded its way to the base of the stone structure like so many a discarded rag doll before it. 

We were hoping to make a more nonchalant exit than that.  Nonchalance.  Nonchalance.  Nonchalance.  A prayer, mantra, plea, supplication, that word seemed to be repeating itself in my head.

Show no fear.  But get the hell out!  I declined the kind fellow’s offer.  Leaning over to Barbara, I explained the situation, and suggested that she and I might stroll around the placita and then make as graceful an exit as possible drawing as little attention as we could to our not-so-hasty retreat.  The fact that they thought she was a he, may have worked to our advantage.  Apparently, they did not expect a woman to be present in the plaza after dusk.  But they also could not figure out if Barbara was brother or sister– and so the phrasing of the question itself was a way to get more information about gender.

Chac, God of Rain & Lightning in Mayan Religion, MythologyIn the dim light, Barbara appeared more “Victor” than “Victoria” and she put on her best “butch-walk” as we exited the plaza.  Our rental car was parked about 500 feet from the square and we were outnumbered and vulnerable. 

Where had all those little girls gone? 

With lascivious perverts, beggars and village idiots buzzing about, we quickly learned that this was not a place for little girls, big girls or norteamericanos.  Was anyone pursuing us?  As we neared the car, hearts pounding in an adrenaline flow, and with eyes glancing behind to ensure that no one had accompanied us, there was the obligatory fumbling with the keys, and once safely in the vehicle we peeled away and headed back to the Hotel Ennui.

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Anticlimactic?  Perhaps for you, but not for us.  Perhaps he was serious in his offer.  Perhaps he just wanted us to leave.  No matter to us– we were happy to see those Bad Boys in the rear view as the town square faded from sight.  Chac would have to wait for another day.

Today, I recommend this Bordeaux Bad Boy which can come and party in our crib any day.  Garagiste, JL Thunevin, has done it again.

Mauvais Garcon (Bad Boy) 2009 ($21).  More forward with the fruit.  Hints of dark cocoa and red licorice on the nose.  Dark berries.  Kirsch.  Perfect concentration.  Dark chocolate on the finish.  Sweet tannins with woodsy notes and underbrush.  Those tannins may be dulcet, but don’t be fooled, this is not a girly Bordeaux.  Rated ***

This needs some serious meat. And when I think serious meat, only braised short ribs will do.  This recipe which has been adapted from Sundays Suppers at Lucques is worth the effort and the long wait while they cook.

Bad Ass Braised Beef Short Ribs


  • 6 Beef short ribs, 14-16 oz each (ask for 3 bone center cut)
  • 1 TBSP + 1 TSP thyme leaves
  • 4 whole sprigs thyme
  • 1 TBSP freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 Doz small pearl onions
  • ½ Cup EVOO
  • 1 Cup diced onion
  • 1/3 Cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 Cup diced celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ Cups port
  • 2 ½ Cups hearty red wine
  • 6 Cups veal or beef stock
  • 4 sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt


  1. Season short ribs with PEPPER and 1 TBSP of THYME.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
  2. Take the ribs out of fridge 60 minutes before cooking.  Preheat oven to 425F.
  3. Toss PEARL ONIONS with 2 TBSP EVOO, 1 TSP of thyme, ¾ TSP of SALT and pinch of PEPPER.  Spread on baking sheet and roast 15 minutes till tender.  When cooled, slip off the skins.  TURN DOWN oven to 325F.
  4. Season RIBS generously on all sides with SALT after 30 minutes.
  5. Heat Large sauté pan over high heat for 3 minutes.  Pour in 3 TBSP of EVOO till almost smoking.  Sear RIBS on three meaty sides.  DO NOT CROWD THE MEAT.  When RIBS are nicely browned, transfer to Dutch oven.  They should lie flat with the bones standing up in one layer.
  6. Turn heat DOWN to medium and add 4 whole sprigs thyme, 1 Cup diced onion, 1/3 Cup diced carrot, 1/3 Cup diced celery, 2 bay leaves.  Stir with wooden spoon, scraping crusty bits.  Cook 6-8 minutes until veggies start to caramelize.
  7. Add 2 TBSP balsamic vinegar, 1 ½ Cups port, 2 ½ Cups hearty red wine.  Turn heat UP to HIGH and reduce liquid by ½.
  8. Add 6 Cups veal or beef stock and bring to a boil.  Pour the liquid over the short ribs scraping any veggies off the meat.  The stock should almost cover the meat.  Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat.
  9. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.  Braise in the oven for 3 hours.  To check the meat for doneness, pierce with paring knife.  It should yield easily to the knife. 
  10. Let ribs rest for 10 minutes in their juices and then transfer to baking sheet.  Turn oven up to 400F.  Place the ribs in the oven to brown for 10-15 minutes
  11. Strain the broth into a saucepan pressing down on veggies to extract juices.  Skim fat from the juice and if broth seems thin, reduce over medium-high heat.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

Serve with sautéed kale or Swiss chard, potato puree and horseradish cream. 

Or complement with a simple Baked Macaronade with elbow macaroni cooked al dente, juices from the braise and grated Gruyère or Parmesan.

Posted May 19, 2012 by Sybarite Sauvage in Food-Wine-Love

14 responses to “Chac-Mool and Me

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  1. Oh my goodness! This sounds absolutely sensational!!! Would definitely try this! Thanks for the recipe 😀

    Razel Rull-Navarro
    • Please do try it– the key is the port wine. Also, since these are plentiful where you hail from, a shiraz would work quite well as the hearty red wine in this recipe. One other tip– before you use wine in cooking always taste it to make sure it is not oxidized or corked. If you can’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

      Finally, you should consider serving a nice Margaret River red with this dish.

  2. Thank you again. I have a bottle of port I got from the the famous Hunter Valley (wine) region which I am sure will work well with this recipe. I have to order the American style beef ribs for this recipe. It’s funny how it’s not a common cut here, not readily available at the supermarket but I know exactly where to order them from.

    Razel Rull-Navarro
    • Awesome– hope you are enjoying your Autumn in Oz.

      • You wouldn’t believe this….I am still waiting for American beef ribs from the local butchers! Frustrating how they are not popuar cut here and not readily available.

      • You did ask for the “short ribs” right? The long ones just won’t do– well, they will, but it won’t be nearly as good!

      • Yup. I asked for the short ribs. They just don’t do it unless you order them, which I did last Thursday…still nothing. The long ones are available but like what you said, just won’t do. I know this coz baci in Manila, short ribs are what you get when you ask for American beef ribs. Anyway, hopefully the butcher will have them for me this week.

      • Very well– I was getting concerned when you kept talking about “American beef ribs”.

      • Ha ha …well, that’s Australian lingo …they just have dfferent terms for almost everything … I am known here as the girl who speaks American English with the American accent.

      • “girl”??

        I thought you only had Sheilas and Blokes, down unda!

      • Ha ha … that’s too country Oz! Girl is common now…at least in the metropolitan areas. But having said that … blokes is pretty much how we refer to guys down unda!

  3. Pingback: Tuscan Kale Salad and Some Bad-Ass Braised Beef Short Ribs « Food Safari

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