Michael Warshauer, Q.E.P.D.

One of Patzcuaro’s icons had a major change of address two days ago.

Michael Warshauer, born in the sunset year of the Silent Generation in Brooklyn, died in Patzcuaro at the age of 76 years. He would call a lot of venues home – New Jersey; Montreal; some place in Ohio which might’ve actually been some place in Pennsylvania or maybe both; St. Louis; Columbia, Missouri; Overland Park; Mountain View and Little Rock, Arkansas – before settling in along the shores of Lake Patzcuaro in the fall of 2005.

An English major at Mizzou, he’d sell his textbooks to pay for caving, along the way meeting Susie, who’d picked up the spelunking habit in Wales and whom he’d go on to wed. And spend even more time exploring subterranean paradises. And sometime amid all of this, he found time to serve in the Army National Guard, keeping Missouri safe from the North Vietnamese.

Susie and baking came first in his life, followed in short order by the holy trinity of Apple, Costco, and Amazon.

Michael was panos@aristotle.net when we first met around 1997.  I thought I’d met him on Usenet, but he insisted it was on Mexconnect. Ni modo. He would go on to be known as Anonimo and Don Cuevas.

He could hold forth about what went into good cooking, the science and art of it all, and he could also acknowledge that sometimes things just went south, despite the best of efforts. He could analyze ingredients, and he could go into great detail about all kinds and grinds of flour, rising times, shapes of bread, oven heat, and baking times.

He would publish blogs at Surviving La Vida Buena and My Mexican Kitchen.

Pecan cinnamon rolls. Stracotto. Gingersnaps. Almond Danish. Gingerbread. Knishes. Health salad. Plum sauce. Kimchi. Brisket. Latkes. Dim sum. Chinese dumplings. Char Siu. Scallion cakes. Biscuits. Bear claws. Rugelach. Dressing. Fried chicken tenders. Stuff wrapped in hoja santa. Challah. Rye bread. Ginger beer. Pho. Vietnamese beef jerky. Gravlax. You name it, and he’d make it. Well, he did draw the line at hamantaschen, just because he claimed not to like them. Did I mention gingersnaps?

A gracious host, Michael could tell everyone to get the hell out of his kitchen when he needed to concentrate. And we gladly complied. And unlike so many foodies and cooks, he was a gracious guest, cheerfully downing whatever you offered in your home without suggesting how you could’ve avoided one of your usual culinary disasters. He knew when to politely keep his mouth shut, a talent rarely practiced by much of today’s society.

He had this native ability to ferret out treasures in the places you’d least suspect, and anything close to food became his mission. Only a year and a half or so ago, he raced ahead of us to Mercado Medellin in CDMX, wending and maneuvering his way through the aisles with the fine-tuned agility of a cutting horse.

In all the years that I knew Michael, I don’t think I ever saw him behind the wheel of any motor vehicle. I knew he knew how to drive, because, well, he did have a driver’s license. But always sitting shotgun as copiloto, he tabbed Susie as his chauffeur,

There wasn’t a food website he didn’t visit, and he loved to forward links to “Can you imagine how bad this must be?” items as well as stuff that actually did sound good. And the restaurants. Ten lifetimes wouldn’t be enough for Michael to visit all the restaurants he would’ve liked to. You might idly let it drop that you’d been to a good enough Chinese restaurant in Bogota, and he’d quickly let you know that it was only ranked 168 among 857 restaurants in the entire capital of Colombia. One of my last emails from him, not even a month ago, mentioned his desire to visit La Conspiracion de 1809 in Morelia, adding that they could go there by taxi. But by then, you just sort of know that he’d never make it there.

And then there were the puns. He could pop off puns at popcorn speed. Some were great, and some were real groaners, but that didn’t stop him. If Michael wasn’t making a pun about something, you just knew something had to be wrong.

And as he slowed down on his usual blogging activity, he became a YouTube enthusiast and a devotee of Mark Weins and Trevor James. And just when you’d had enough of some foodie praising the food of Pakistan, Michael would redeem himself by sending a 29-minute video of some guy cooking a steak, just because he knew that would captivate whomever was on the receiving end.

Michael Warshauer, you had style and class, and without question, you were extraordinary. You made all of our lives richer through your friendship, and you will be missed. Good night, Panos.

15 comments on “Michael Warshauer, Q.E.P.D.

  1. Carole Kocian says:

    Oh, no, this is such a shock. I knew him, distantly, through social media (hate that relevance to someone I though of more deeply) and he kindly agreed to give a cooking class, arranged by him, at one of the accommodating kitchens in Patzcuaro a few years back. A library is lost and that really makes me sad.

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  2. Jim Karger says:

    Excelllent piece. Hope you are well.

    Jim

    >

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  3. Excellent write-up. Thanks.

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  4. Barb says:

    A lovely tribute to a lovely person. He will be missed. He was a unique person and I am so glad I had the opportunity to know him for about 17 years. First online, then in person in Patzcuaro in 2005. We met various times for food of course, when I was in the area visiting. He always kept tabs on my travels in Mexico. A legend he was. My heart is heavy.

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  5. Kris says:

    I knew Michael online for several years before I moved to Patzcuaro and met him. We were part of a loose-knit group called the ROMEOS. (retired old men eating out) that met for breakfast at different restaurants every tuesday. A few times a year, he would host breakfast at his home. His baking and cooking skills were excellent.
    He was a kind and thoughtful man, and I am sorry to see him go.

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  6. So sorry to hear this, I really enjoyed his blogs. Sounds like you’ve lost a special friend.

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  7. Tancho says:

    Michael will be sadly missed, a true gentleman who enjoyed sharing his food information and was a encyclopedia of information whenever you needed something special for a recipe one might have been working on. Your write up is spot on, thank you. and Thank you Michael for knowing you!

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  8. private says:

    Well done, by you and Michael both.    j.

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  9. Clete says:

    Only the good die young. Q.E.P.D. don Cuevas.

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  10. Jacki Richey says:

    A beautifully written tribute to a very special person. One day when the topic of chocolate eclairs cane up, I told Michael how I hadn’t had a good one since high school. He invited me over to make it them together. They were soooo good. He will be missed.

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  11. Steve Cotton says:

    a very apt tribute to our mutual friend. May God provide his comforting presence to Susie.

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  12. William says:

    A wonderful tribute

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  13. Kim G says:

    Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to read this. I’ve enjoyed Michael’s blogs, and enjoyed meeting him in 2014 when I did my Mexican roadtrip. His spirit and presence will definitely be missed.

    Thanks for writing such a lovely obituary.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    Redding, CA

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  14. Rodney Tennyson says:

    Michael and I caved together through out the mid 70’s to the early 80’s, just before he retired from the sport; spending the night at his home in Mountain View was always an experience of fine food and company. Over the past few years he and I shared caving stories about the early days of exploration in Janus Pit Cave in Arkansas, we also sharied some serious original explorations near Batesville that I recall fondly. The world was greater with him here, I can still hear his banjo on the wind sometimes.
    Rodney Tennyson

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  15. Javier says:

    Conocí a Mike a través de internet cuando estaba preparando su viaje a España en 2003. Fueron invitados a estar en mi casa en Murcia unos días, degustaron comida típica murciana y visitamos lugares bonitos, junto con su mujer Susan.
    Una gran persona.
    Descanse en paz.
    Javier

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