COLUMN: BOTTLE SERVICES
Our columnist Bill DiDonna illuminates us on how to find a bottle of Pechuga after gambling away everything you have in Macau
It, of course, happened at night. Anyone that tells you nothing good happens after 2AM probably doesn’t stay up late.
I was on the night boat from Macau to Shenzhen lamenting my losses and hoping to maybe pick up some Yuan at a pre-dawn cockfight on the mainland. Monica had been bitching about everything: my gambling, my foul mood, my lack of attention. She had a point, I was a shitty date and the Baijiu didn’t help. Ultimately she ditched me for some dude from Singapore wearing the most beautiful shoes I’ve ever seen. The joke was on her though, I sold both of our return flights to some sort of broker in the men’s room for 10,000 Yuan and subsequently lost most of that too.
I was up on the deck sucking in fumes and humidity when a friendly hand shoved a bottle my way, “¿Pechuga Señor?” Pechuga means breast, but in this case we are talking about a certain succulent type of Mezcal. Chicken breasts are skewed over the steaming distillate—fat and proteins drip into the elixir. Quince, pineapple, cherimoya, almonds, cinnamon and other local herbs and grains can also be added. These are closely guarded family recipes; originally only made for in-house consumption, cognoscenti have demanded availability and a few distillers have acquiesced. Prepare to fork over about $200US for a bottle of the magic. Worth it? Absolutely, especially if you have vegan roommates.
Tonight it was just the ticket, the additions cutting the harsher edges, revealing layer upon layer of smoky goodness. We stood in silence passing the bottle back and forth watching the mega casinos disappear on the horizon. From his pocket he produced a cellophane bag of some unknown snack. I tossed a few into my mouth—crunchy, nutty, tossed in salt and chile. “¿Que son estos?”
“Chipolines” I pulled one up to give it closer look. It was a bug, some kind of deep fried bug. “Grasshoppers señor” Aha! I suddenly knew where my future lay: this mysterious stranger.
I knocked around China for the next year or so trying to get my bug snack business off the ground. 1.3 billion people and a seemingly unlimited supply of free bugs. It was a no-brainer. I was finally going to achieve my potential. I taught tennis to make ends meet and tried to carefully parcel out the remaining Pechuga—yes the mysterious stranger gifted me the bottle. Sadly I failed on all counts, I couldn’t drum up enough interest in fried bugs, I drank all the Mezcal in one epic go and here I was back on the boat. I had managed to raise a little seed capital from a few guys I met and decided that the best plan of action was to go back to Macau to try and turn it into a much larger stake. I knew, however, that I probably wasn’t coming back, win or lose. My passport expired in a few months and I had a few hours before the sun was due to rise. I had a half bottle of Baijiu inside me and the other half in my pocket. I could hit the Kam Pek Paradise for some baccarat and some breakfast while I waited for the Yat Yuen Canidrome to open and the dog races to start. If the plan worked out, I could have a big pot of cash and be at the Hong Kong airport in time for the midnight flight to L.A. Another brilliant plan hatched after 2AM. Take that, haters.
Written by Bill DiDonna
Photographer: Ian Morrison for Opus Reps