Bloodless bullfighting peaked our curiosity. We telephoned the number posted on the brochure and spoke to Fred Renk. Fred once fought the toros bravos himself, but now he raises cows for breeding the “brave bulls” at his ranch in La Gloria, Texas. The bloodless bullfights are his way of testing his cows to see if they are brave fighters, true vacas bravas who will produce brave offspring.
Renk describes bloodless bullfighting and traditional bullfighting as “an art form in three acts.” The matador must first get the animal’s attention with the cape, then test and dominate the animal. In the case of the bloodless fight, the final act is to reach in over the long, sharp horns of the cow and pluck a plastic flower that has been attached to her back. Quite unlike the final act of the traditional bullfight.
Mexico’s Lupita Lopez, known promotionally as The Mayan Princess, is one of the few female matadors in the world. She performed for us on a scorching day in Renk’s shadeless Santa Maria Bullring in Texas. Over and over, in her intricately embroidered blue and gold suit, she stood firm, arched her back and lured the animal to her cape. We yelled “Olé,” as the cow’s horns came closer and closer to her body with each pass. Twice, Lupita dropped to one knee and jiggled the cape. The cow kicked up dirt with her front feet before charging. “Olé.” Proving dominance, Lupita turned her back and strutted away. Turning to face the cow once more, she taunted with the cape, and as the angry, frustrated animal charged, dust rising from its hooves, she reached in over the horns and captured the flower. Spectators threw their hats into the ring. Lupita Lopez received the symbolic ears and tail as trophies of her performance.
At the end of the day, beef was out of the question, so we created this delicious fried chicken recipe.
SOUTHERN FRIED CHICKEN
(Makes 6 to 8 servings)
12 to 14 pieces skinless chicken drumsticks and breasts
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 mL) salt
2 tablespoons (30 mL) seasoned salt
1/2 cup (125mL) buttermilk
1/2 cup (125 mL) beer
Wash the chicken pieces. Place them on paper towel to drain.
In a bowl, combine 1 cup of the flour with the salt. Mix well.
In a second bowl, whisk the egg and add the buttermilk and beer. Whisk to mix well.
In a third bowl, combine the remaining 2 cups of flour with the seasoned salt.
Take each piece of chicken, cover it entirely with salted flour in the first bowl, dip it completely into the liquid in the second bowl, then coat it with the seasoned flour in the third bowl. Place the breaded chicken on a large platter in a single layer.
Set the deep fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175° C). Cook the chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until it is golden brown and reaches an inner temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit (82° C). Cooking time will vary with the size of the pieces and the number of pieces in the oil. Occasionally turn the chicken in the fryer for even cooking and even browning.
Place the cooked chicken on a baking sheet set up with a wire rack to drain.