Hemispheres Magazine-Dispatches: May 2013

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The tale of the bus station, the tall stranger and the mysterious package

TIJUANA, MEXICO—While ants, grasshoppers and armadillos all have their place in Mexican cuisine, snails have been slow to move from the garden to the plate. So chef Ryan Steyn was taking a risk when he opened Bistrot l’Escargot in Tijuana in 2011. Today, he’s taking another one.

Steyn is at the bus station, awaiting a delivery from Guadalajara: a cooler of high-grade foie gras. He had a hard time finding a local source for the stuff, but thinks it’ll be easier getting people to eat it; after all, his escargot, with a little chipotle thrown in, has been a hit. “You’ve got to give people something their taste buds can understand,” he says.

A more immediate challenge: wresting the cooler away from the bus driver, who is suspicious about its traveling unattended in the luggage compartment of his vehicle. Finally, after a spirited debate, Steyn retrieves his prize and heads back to his bistro, which will have a new item on the menu tonight. —