He walked with his chest out and a general’s look of complete control. His red and yellow feathers glowed in the sunlight. The golden cock was a spoiled bird at my grandparent’s house.
A little after dawn, he took a very calculated flight across the courtyard to arrive with a perfect landing at the gate of the fence. After settling himself a little, he launched a powerful cock-a-doodle-doo, announcing the arrival of the future. There, I waited for my grandma to milk the Cuatro, the goat tied up at the big Guamuchil tree. The rooster jumped down and followed my grandmother who walked with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.
As on a movie screen, I saw the same scene repeated every morning behind the window of my room with very few changes. However, the image was always like a work of art. The giant Guamuchil let the warm rays of dawn pass through the branches next to the trunk. I saw my Grandma milking the Cuatro into her coffee cup and, to top it off, the golden cock beside her like a good foreman making sure everything went well.
On the days that my nana felt like cooking steak for breakfast, I was dispatched early to buy meat because it went in a hurry. As soon as she saw the meat wagon passing down our street with the cuts hanging from the unfortunate cow that had been freshly butchered, grandma let out a scream for me to run get a place at the meat sale in the Calle Grande in the center of town.
Thinking about breakfast pleased me. I immediately set off towards the town’s electrical plant a few blocks from the house. There the cart was parked, and the meat sold. I always arrived on time. In fact, I was one of the first in line. Don Athanasius, the butcher, already knew what I was going to order: some thin fillets of tenderloin. He piled the slices one on top of the other and then made a hole that through the stack that he tied with a long strip of palm leaf or rope. He knotted the ends making a handle to carry the meat. It was at that moment the task became difficult. I had to dodge the hungry dogs of the town. For that, I carried a stick with a fork-like end where I hung the meat and put it on my shoulder like a baseball bat… away from the snout of the dogs.
I entered the house through the garden and picked three tomatoes. The kitchen already smelled like flour tortillas and freshly prepared beans. Installed on the kitchen windowsill, the golden cock announced that the important errand had been completed. My grandma was a very good cook, but that steak was something special. She separated the slices, coated them with wheat flour and seasoned them with a mixture of oregano, a pinch of salt and other spices. Then she used her famous, heavy iron tenderizer so that the seasoning would stick. She already had the pan with pork lard and sliced onion placed on the wood burner. Each floured steak was placed carefully into the pan. The aroma immediately made my mouth water and my stomach demand food. Meanwhile, my aunt Clarita made flour tortillas and gave a final stir with a pewter spoon to the refried beans.
The red and white checkered tablecloth was already set with avocado dishes, freshly made flour tortillas, spicy chili sauce, tomato wheels, roasted cheese strips and Huichol sauce.
The ultimate moment came when my grandmother placed the meat dish on the table and uncovered it. If the smell was tasty, but the steak in a flour tortilla, with fried onions, avocado, roasted cheese and hot sauce was absolutely glorious. To finish breakfast, talega coffee was served with la Cuatro’s milk and, for dessert, some freshly made chimangos cinnamon and sugar pastries. Those were my grandmother’s steak breakfasts that I really enjoyed when I was kid.
I often wondered what happened to the golden cock. One day, he left the house to experience the novelty of some Chinese chickens from a Hungarian circus that had set up on a soccer field. Julian, the son of the orchard owner, saw the rooster for the last time, by the way, on top of a hen. No more was known about him. I became so sad that I lost my appetite for a while, until my grandmother made chilaquiles and returned my soul to the body. But that is another story that I cannot tell right now because my dinner will get cold.