Thursday, July 1, 2021

Lake Zirahuén

Lake Zirahuén is one of Michoacán’s best kept secrets; only 39 miles from Morelia and 15 miles from Patzcuaro. The Purépecha called Lake Zirahuén the Mirror of the Gods; it’s one of the most crystalline lakes in Mexico. This fishing lake is bordered by fields of flowers but this time of year, the landscape was already showing its November face. The shoreline is peppered with boat docks and although no motorboats are allowed on the lake, occasionally someone will break the rules and you’ll see one.
Never judge a restaurant by its cover. Take your pick; these tin roofed structures are time worn but inside are menus of shoreline delights. I was instantly reassured when I saw a picture of da Vinci’s Last Supper nailed to the ceiling. It was overcast that day but we never paid attention to the gloomy weather. I lived within blocks of Lake Michigan most of my life so being around water again was that simple pleasure I had almost forgotten. Although the restaurants were showing their wear, the homes were painted in bright, Mexican colors.
There is pleasure in fishing – I remember, never in how many fish you catch although I can’t say size doesn’t matter. Finally, after putting down two enormous sailfish and a marlin in Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas in back-to-back seasons, I’ve got fish stories to tell my brothers so it was no surprise that the highlight of our trip was eating fish that were caught from the lake that morning – something we haven’t done in a very long time - and Magnum bars for dessert. It’s amazing how much patience you have when you’re looking for a Magnum bar in the middle of nowhere, although I never imagined eating fish and ice cream at the same meal.
Drink in the lake view from this small bar stocked with all the Mexican essentials - more than one brand of tequila. We were excited to taste Charales - a tiny, whole, crisp-fried fish, which are a specialty of the area; eating a new species was a cause for celebration. We also had several, small white fish; cutting slits in the fish was the key to cooking it quickly. The white fish were near textbook and if you’ve ever been to a shore lunch, you know that there’s nothing better than the flavor of fried fish cooked over fire and wood. Henry David Thoreau once said “Men go fishing all their lives without knowing it’s not the fish they are after.” Go for this magical, Michoacán moment, you’ll be surprised at what you find besides the fish.
El Gordo Restaurante Phone: 434 112 1272 Muelle General S/N Lake Zirahuen, Michoacán