Food is one of the truest measures of local culture worldwide, maybe even more so among duck hunters. While exploring duck hunting in Guatemala, Ramsey’s hosts made sure he experienced everything the small Central American country had to offer. None more so than today’s guest, Alvaro Aguilar, who has a US background in culinary arts and is the official camp cook. He and Ramsey discuss time spent in the Southern US, classic Guatemalan dishes versus Mexican, why Guatemalan tamales are better, and similarities to the Deep South. Why waterfowl hunting is important to Aguilar strikes familiar cords, but his fearless field-to-table chef adventures takes “eating the whole animal” to a whole ‘nuther level! Y’all DO NOT want to miss his mouth-watering duck recipes. You ain’t going to believe “duck chicarones” and, yes, it was absolutely delicious.

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A Good Taste of Guatemala

Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, thunderstorm here in Guatemala, which is an amazing place. And I have got Alvera Aguilera, how do I say that?

Alvaro Aguilar: You say Alvaro Aguilar, it’s a tough name.

Ramsey Russell: Okay, now you all see why I call this guy Big Al.

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, that’s smart.

Ramsey Russell: It’s Big Al, Big Al to me, man. And look, I’ve always realized if you want to get a good sense of a culture, put your feet on the table with the right folks and Big Al, good eats is the place to get a good taste of Guatemala. And I realize that I’m going to continue calling you Al Aguilar. I realized that on the first day in Guatemala, we go out duck hunting and we have a great time, I hear you shooting off and he’s shooting and we’re all spread around the marsh and we paddle back and the boys started picking ducks and there was like a little clump of shade, little cashew tree and everybody starts breaking out chairs and cold beers and me and you immediately, hey, how you doing? I’m fine. We start talking food, how are you today, Big Al?

Alvaro Aguilar: I’m great, happy to have you here, it’s been an awesome couple of days some, it’s been an experience. It’s a different perspective having you here in the hunting trip because we do it so often, not as much as we like, but having you here, it’s a reminder of how awesome and how lucky we are in here in Guatemala.

Ramsey Russell: And I would echo that sentiment of how lucky and blessed you all are. And I’ve thanked everybody profusely for putting Guatemala into my life and I needed this hunt, I needed this experience and it’s just been incredible, it’s been a really good trip here. Where to start, man? Where to start with Big Al?

Alvaro Aguilar: With food.

Ramsey Russell: Well, first I want to say this, I’m sitting here looking at your diplomas. We’re at your office fiesta de hielo, that’s Spanish for Party Ice. And man, you have got an incredible ice plant here and in a hot ass country like Guatemala because it’s like an eternal spring, it’s like Mississippi May all year long. I asked you last night at your house because the windows were open, it was beautiful outside, it was beautiful inside, I said, man, how many days a year you leave your windows open? You go, every day.

Alvaro Aguilar: 365 days.

Ramsey Russell: Because it’s beautiful, but it gets hot.

Alvaro Aguilar: It does.

Ramsey Russell: And I just can’t imagine that ice is not the place to be, ice business in a hot ass country has got to be good. And man, what an incredible – you gave us a little tour of your ice plant and that are your main, that’s your business.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, this is actually a family business. My dad started it probably 30 years ago and I’ve been in the company for 8.5 years, yeah. So, it’s been an amazing ride with its up and downs, you say it and I’m going to keep repeating it, I feel very blessed, I’m a blessed man.

Ramsey Russell: You are a blessed man, you’ve got a beautiful family.

Alvaro Aguilar: Thank you.

Ramsey Russell: Live in a wonderful country. And I’m looking here at your diploma wall, you graduated from the University of Houston, Texas.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s right, yeah, in Texas. I lived there for 7.5 years, came back to Guatemala in 2013. So I love Texas, Texas is where I hope one day I can go back and live there actually. That’s a dream.

Ramsey Russell: Well, in a country that doesn’t have many hunters, many recreational hunters and doesn’t have a lot of duck hunters within that recreational hunting community. How did you begin duck hunting? What are your origins in duck hunting? Was it in Texas?

Alvaro Aguilar: Actually, no. I went a lot of times shooting like clay shooting and we went to a friend’s ranch in the hill country in Texas, but never duck hunted in my life there. When I came back to Guatemala Andres and Marco, they were already in the hunting, so they took me. I love guns, I love cooking, so that’s what excited me the most.

Ramsey Russell: And that’s why you went to school, you were in culinary art school.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s right, I went to Florida actually.

Ramsey Russell: And it was so amazing last night meeting your wife, who’s a Mexican American you all met in college and she was also in culinary arts. And it’s interesting to me being married to the brain to the operation of Getducks, my beautiful wife, how opposites attract because you’re a chef, a cook and boy did you demonstrate last night, we’re fixing to dig into that. And your wife is a pastry chef which is like the difference in what I’ve learned pastry is science. Exact measurements, exact degrees, it is an exact and what you do is free spirit, it sounds like a good idea.

Alvaro Aguilar: No measurements at all.

Ramsey Russell: It’s more art than science.

Cooking with Passion

What about your upbringing influenced that path in life? Why did you want to get into culinary arts and hospitality management? 

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. It’s like a beautiful dance. Everything needs the perfect amount, but you never measure, it’s all by feeling, it’s all by taste and that’s how you get it done. So, I don’t know if I said this but first I lived in Florida for a year and a half, that’s where I went to culinary school and then I moved to Texas to hotel and restaurant management in the university of Texas, yeah, to the hospitality.

Ramsey Russell: Wow. What about your upbringing influenced that path in life? Why did you want to get into culinary arts and hospitality management? What were you thinking at that stage in your life that you were going to do?

Alvaro Aguilar: I just have a passion for cooking and people, I don’t know if you can tell yesterday that I have a – that’s what I love to do, just entertain.

Ramsey Russell: You threw the best house party I’ve ever seen.

Alvaro Aguilar: Thank you, just entertaining, having this conversation with strangers that become friends and talking through food, because I think it’s a universal language, everybody understands that. I love fire, cooking with fire, you see it yesterday, I put the box where we made the fire and I think that, it’s natural for men to gather on fire, to cook, having their wives there, I think it’s a great thing. And my kids as well, he was grabbing the duck from the cutting board just chopping down and that’s what brings me happy.

Ramsey Russell: And Latin America is an extremely family oriented culture.

Alvaro Aguilar: Huge, yes.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve just noticed that everywhere that they speak Spanish as a primary language, family.

Alvaro Aguilar: Family, it’s everything. I think in the Southern States, I think it’s a little like that. There’s a strong family connection that everybody lives close and –

Ramsey Russell: And you saw that in Florida and Houston and in Texas.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, I did. Yeah, there’s a huge family value which I love, it’s a great thing.

Ramsey Russell: How else was the Southern US similar to Central America?

Alvaro Aguilar: It has its similarities but living in the States, it has more order, I think you’re familiar with that, like there’s a certain way of living in the States that everybody likes and wants and protects even, right? That’s the great American dream. It’s law and order, having your family, having your house and be able to accomplishing life, anything that you can dream of.

Ramsey Russell: How does that different from Guatemala?

Alvaro Aguilar: It’s different, we don’t have that security, you never know –

Ramsey Russell: Because it is a small economy.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly. And the institutions here in Guatemala are – I know we talked about this, that even in the States, they’re corrupt, everywhere.

Ramsey Russell: Governments are corrupt everywhere, money corrupts people, money and power.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s right, but here it’s more notorious. The opportunities for people are not the same.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of disparity and opportunities because the people at top, keep the people below behind.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s correct. And a smaller economy, that reflects huge, the impact is enormous in the way of life of people, smaller numbers, people can achieve less.

Pork with Pork: Guatemalan Delicacies

That’s a great combination.

Ramsey Russell: The first day, we’re on a hilltop, we’re having a great time drinking beer, Bs and telling about the hunt, picking duck, whatever. And somebody hands some dinero over to one of the guys, he jumps in a boat and takes off and oh he’s fixing to go get lunch and it’s not 100 yards to town, it’s a good little ride. It took him about an hour to get there and get back and he comes back Guatemala Uber driver or Uber Foods I called it, comes boating up in his boat and he’s got bags of food. He’s got Chicharrón and he’s got a carnitas and man, one thing I’ve become addicted to down here are everywhere you look on every street corner, somebody, a couple of ladies are making fresh corn tortillas, no store bought stuff here, it’s fresh, that maybe all day. Your wife was telling me last night that a lot of these businesses turn them out 5, 10 times daily. It’s constantly turning out fresh tortillas, totally different than going to your local Walmart and picking up a pack of plastic bag made maybe two months ago or something.

Alvaro Aguilar: People won’t accept that. They eat their fresh tortillas and they need to be hot. They won’t eat them an hour later or 10, 15, 20 minutes later, they like them fresh.

Ramsey Russell: Every tortilla I’ve had here is hot, it’ll melt butter hot like a hot dinner roll. And that’s when we started talking food because you started telling me about the different food and I started talking and my world in the Deep South, I mean, my style of cooking is I grew up as a child is predominated by 2 qualities, pork and frying, fried food and pork.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s a great combination.

Ramsey Russell: We either fry it, we roll it up in pork and eat it one or the other.

Alvaro Aguilar: Pork with pork.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a lot of similarities down here. And these Chicharrón in Central America fresh, they were still hot and it’s not just the skin, it’s got the fat on the back, oh, my gosh.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. I don’t know if we talked about this but when we were going, like, at 03:30 in the morning or 04:00 in the morning, we ordered the Chicharrón and the carnitas, when we were passing by, he was already –

Ramsey Russell: I didn’t know that.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, he was already cooking them. And if you don’t order, if you go back at 09:30 or 10:00 in the morning, they’re gone. So we had to send Marco’s guy and he picked them up, took them to the guy in the boat and he took us to us.

Ramsey Russell: If I lived here in Guatemala, I would eat fresh – first, I drink my coffee and before I finish my coffee, I call in my order daily Chicharrón and corn tortillas.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s actually people – here in the office, they order at least once a month or maybe a couple of times a month every Saturday. And we eat Chicharrón and carnitas here in the office, people love them.

Ramsey Russell: Because I know just from reading a little bit that Mexico and Guatemala have similar origins, it’s like, the Conquistadors kind of took over the area occupied by present day Mexico first and then the guy in charge, okay, somebody to come down to Guatemala and begins to sub-doing it and developing it. So in one sense, Central America is kind of like southern Mexico, but in another sense, it ain’t. Because like the first night I was here, we got off the plane, we went and ate dinner, we go to a Mexican restaurant, a great Mexican restaurant. Unbelievably good. I’m like, yeah, I get that but there are similarities and there are differences. What are some of the traditional – I mean, I have eaten a – it’s like, everybody I’ve met has tried to absolutely make me explode and absolutely just heap on a lot of Guatemalan culture in the sense of food, I have eaten so much.

Alvaro Aguilar: Everybody here is like your grandma.

Ramsey Russell: Exactly like my grandma. Eat, but I’m full I just ate twice, no eat again.

Alvaro Aguilar: Keep eating. We get offended if you don’t keep eating. That’s exactly right. The similarities to Mexico, they’re huge, but even in Mexico, if you travel all of Mexico, you’re going to see a lot of similarities, but a lot of difference as well.

Ramsey Russell: I agree with that because I’ve been in Quebec, Caribbean Mexico, I’ve been in central Mexico, I’ve been in western Mexico and it’s like, just take mole, it’s different.

Alvaro Aguilar: Different everywhere.

Ramsey Russell: But that goes back to the Deep South. Like if you go into Louisiana by zip code or street address, their gumbo recipe different.

Alvaro Aguilar: It’s different and everybody serves by the recipe, it’s your obligation to defend it.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Guatemalan Tamales

Alvaro Aguilar: So that’s how it is in Guatemala. We have a lot of similar things but the food, maybe the techniques of the food they’re similar, but the ingredients change.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I think of a prime example would be Guatemalan hot tamales. What are the similarities and differences when you start talking hot tamales?

Alvaro Aguilar: Tamale versus tamale. First one is that in Mexico it’s made up with corn and in Guatemala we use rice or corn –

Ramsey Russell: As the stuffing?

Alvaro Aguilar: The massa.

Ramsey Russell: The massa, I did not know that.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And in Guatemala we wrap them in banana leaves and in Mexico they wrap them in corn husk.

Ramsey Russell: Because they don’t have banana trees up in the Sonora desert, probably.

Alvaro Aguilar: Probably yeah. And in some part of Mexico they do the tamales with the banana leaves and the ones we do here, they’re called a chuchitos, the one we’re doing with the corn husk.

Ramsey Russell: My wife asked me the other day how the food was and I said it, it’s kind of like Mexican food, but nobody would be offended if you’re from Mexico listening to this. But in Guatemala it’s much better. Because I love Mexican food but I really love Guatemala food.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, they’re good, it’s good.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve eaten. And I mean, I couldn’t tighten my belt as tight as normal today, I had to loosen it out a little bit, I’ve eaten so much since I’ve been here and I feel like I’ve been eating down here, like Christmas break for a month, but I’ve only been here 5 days.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And you’ve tried a lot of different dishes. I’m glad you had that opportunity as well.

Ramsey Russell: Well, last night was a big highlight. And what would you say most influences Guatemala cooking and I’m leading them with first Guatemala and then I want to get into your influence of your cooking style because last night you cook some pretty fabulous stuff, I want to talk about, we had ducks a bunch of different ways.

Alvaro Aguilar: I’m ashamed of admitting this, but I’m not the expert in Guatemalan cooking because I spend so much time abroad in the States and my in laws and my wife’s family are from Mexico and I just love Mexican food. I know more about Mexican food than I do from Guatemalan food, I need to get better at it. But in Guatemala, the ingredients, there are a lot of stews that are typical to Guatemala and a lot of spices, they use all types of meat pork, chicken, beef in a stew that’s the traditional way and it’s very similar to Mexico.

Ramsey Russell: The other day at lunch, were you telling me that you did some duck hunting in Louisiana? You spent some time in Louisiana because you were in Texas, Houston is not too far from Louisiana.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. No, we went to Lafayette, right?

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Alvaro Aguilar: Lafayette. We went to New Orleans and went to watch a lot of LSU games.

Ramsey Russell: Did you really?

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, that was fun.

Ramsey Russell: You like American football?

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, I love it. College football is, I think it’s the best.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I tell you what you get down to LSU country, you’re in some college football country.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, that’s huge, that’s a religion there.

Ramsey Russell: Did you go to any tailgate parties and eat?

Alvaro Aguilar: Oh, yeah, I’m going to keep some stories to myself. No, I think that’s one of the best things about football actually going to tailgating and then to the game, that’s an amazing experience, it’s awesome.

Ramsey Russell: One thing, I noticed about – now I’m changing subject, I’m get back on cooking and I want to get into ducks, there are some amazing duck recipes down here. And when I’ve been to Latin America, parts of Africa and different places in the past, a lot of people tend to overcook duck or overcooked meat, they like well-done meat and I think it’s like, the other day we were going to a community and there’s a little man on a bicycle and he caught some fresh fish or bought some fresh fish and going somewhere and they had like 50 fish hanging from his handle bars and it was hotter than hades outside. There’s not a lot of – you have an ice plant and boy, is it comfortable out there in your ice plant. But I mean, it’s like culturally speaking relative to say America, refrigeration may not be as widely available. Like when you get out to some of these indigenous communities, they don’t have front doors, I mean, they probably don’t have a refrigerator and a freezer and a deep freezer stuff out there. And like, when you’re going through these towns, like you look in some of these shop and they just slaughtered an animal and they got it hanging up and I’ve always thought that maybe the reason some of these more underdeveloped cultures overcook their meat was maybe because they didn’t have refrigeration and things like that. Would that -?

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. That’s a good way to explain it because refrigeration, it’s expensive. These guys, these people, they don’t have that opportunity of being able to buy ice, a clean source ice for their product. So that’s a good argument that people do overcook their meats just to make sure that they’re going to be safe to eat.

Ramsey Russell: Did you grow up cooking red meat or meat well done before you went to the States?

The Ribeye of the Sky

Yeah, cranes. Yeah, we’ve been dying to hunt those type of birds.

Alvaro Aguilar: No, in my family, my dad always eat medium rare.

Ramsey Russell: He like medium rare?

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, medium rare. But my mom, she loves it, she used to love well done everything.

Ramsey Russell: That was the first thing I noticed when I started eating with you all here was, we ate duck, we ate beef and it was all medium rare, you know what I’m saying? And like we go down to one of my favorite places to hunt in Argentina, they cook duck and then we whole pick them and we butterfly them like a pick in spatchcock them and then they grill them and salt and pepper seasoning that’s it and it’s so good. But the first time we ate it was like, you couldn’t hardly eat, it was just overdone and it took a while working with the cooks, like, less and they won’t eat it, nobody on that staff will eat those ducks the way you and I eat them. But I come here and all of a sudden, I’m like, wow, this is how I eat back home and I don’t know. Al, since I’ve been in Guatemala, I’ve seen so much similarity and so much that just made me feel at home to include the food and a lot of the customs and a lot of the traditions and a lot of the decoy and the hunting styles and the way you all – the whole group is just very social around the duck hunt and it’s a foreign country but it feels so at home, I feel so comfortable here, like being at home and that’s just something I’m just trying to figure out.

Alvaro Aguilar: We need to go and visit you.

Ramsey Russell: You’ll need to. We talked about that last night and Paulo and Marco and some of the boys were talking about coming to the States and I said, the hunt and you all are welcome to come do anything up in the country you all want to do. But as I was thinking about a hunt, I would take how long that is, as opposite of Guatemala as I can think of it would be a spring snow goose hunt, it’s going to be cold –

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, we want to do that. We want to chase some duck that we don’t get here, mallards, geese, anything that we can – or how is it call the ribeye of the sky?

Ramsey Russell: Sandhill Cranes?

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, cranes. Yeah, we’ve been dying to hunt those type of birds.

Ramsey Russell: We can do it. But it’s so warm and sultry and temperate down here, I was just thinking, man, if I could get these guys on one of those mornings where there’s 10,000 yelling, swarming snow geese that begin to form a funnel cloud above you, because even if you don’t fire a shot because the play doesn’t happen just looking up at all that is a world wonder to me. Every time I see it happen, I’m like, I’m just enamored with that experience.

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, you were talking to us as a group, I think everybody, puts a little bit of each person makes the group whole, I put the cooking, Todo has the stories, Andres, he’s the one that puts everything together, so everybody puts in something and –

Ramsey Russell: It’s like the A-team.

Alvaro Aguilar: Right. And this wasn’t like this, 8 years ago when I came to Guatemala, they were cooking their duck to death, dry duck. They didn’t have the experience, the knowledge to cook it the right way and me neither, I wasn’t an expert in ducks, I never hunted ducks in my life, but I started putting this philosophy into them to respect the animal because I think, for me, that’s what is hunting, I always go out just for the experience of it. Hopefully, we can get some ducks so we can do what we did yesterday, gather around light a fire, get the families together and just have an amazing time around what we love to do that, it’s duck hunting.

Ramsey Russell: The total experience, that’s what it’s become to me to a lot of younger people that are in a different stage, it’s different. They’re at that stage where they first just want to kill a duck, then they want to kill a limit, then they want to kill more ducks. And I see, and I hear about a lot in these conversations with people around the world that in the advent of social media, there seems to be a lot of people crafting their ego and sense of self around dead piles of ducks. But you’ve only been hunting a few years and already you recognize that it’s far more value, this relationship we have with nature and with waterfowl and with fellow duck hunters.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly. I think that should be the main reason to respect the animal. And for me, respecting the animal it’s eating the entire animal.

Ramsey Russell: Well, I found that out last night, I’m saving that for the grand finale because that is – I’ve never seen anything like that.

A Meaningful Hunting Philosophy

So to have the experience, respect what he was in the wild a couple hours, a couple days ago, just flying freely enjoying and then that animal, it’s making us as a group, as a family living that experience, we owe it to the ducks. 

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And for me, that’s what it is about. So to have the experience, respect what he was in the wild a couple hours, a couple days ago, just flying freely enjoying and then that animal, it’s making us as a group, as a family living that experience, we owe it to the ducks. So, it’s a little bit philosophical but I think that’s what it is about for me.

Ramsey Russell: Well, in this day and age, I mean, really and truly, none of us are eating for subsistence. Some of the indigenous communities here in this country and elsewhere abroad are having to eat everything from turtles to whatever kind of protein they can put on the table, but we’re not. We’re eating for a form of recreation and a form of fulfilment that’s far beyond it. I mean, we can go to the grocery and we can buy meat but it’s bigger than that.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. Think about the guy in the bicycle with all those fish hanging, he sells whatever he can sells and the rest, he’s going to eat it.

Ramsey Russell: I guess I’ve mentioned this in all 3 podcast, it just struck me, man. Yesterday, we were coming out and the local villagers were out digging around the mud and I’m thinking, what the heck are they doing? And they were digging up little green turnips and little turtles and what are they going to do with that and eat them? They’re going to eat them, man. They’re going to eat everything they can. And those kids, that’s something else that struck me and somebody asked me about it last night at dinner is, we get off in these local communities like the locals that we were hunting with the first day and the second day and the third day and then yesterday, the children, I mean children, 5 years old, 10 years old, 15 years old were sitting around smiling and laughing and drinking Coca-Cola and plucking duck. And it just dawned on me watching them that a lot of American Children back home, they don’t know where their food comes from. There’s a misconnect between a live animals sitting out in nature and the dinner table that modern people, civilized people, societies don’t realize, they don’t make that connection anymore and those children, you may think of them as poor because they are. But my God, they know where their next meal is coming from. I mean, they recognize that connection, they know exactly what that chicken run around the yard is about. He ain’t about clucking and just laying eggs, he’s a meal one day.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly. They understand that and then they put the work, they put the sacrifice to raise that animal as well. And you talk about children, but a lot of adults, they have no idea as well where the food comes from.

Ramsey Russell: It’s becoming a problem worldwide. I go into countries like Netherlands or into Australia, I’m picking on those two countries because they’re affluent and white, but they are anti-hunting, they’re becoming way off like an anti-hunting and they have no idea.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, they’re wearing leather shoes, leather jackets and they think that the steak that they’re eating comes from – I don’t know what they think, but it’s crazy that the miss connection, they don’t understand they should put a lot of more knowledge into what that hunting is.

Ramsey Russell: I had a conversation last night at dinner, you were cooking one of the courses and we got to talking about – man, I’m real – I love to duck hunt, it’s what I do, but as I go off into countries like this or other cultures to hunt, it’s almost like going through the pages of National Geographic magazine back in the old days, but I’ve got a shotgun, I’m duck hunting. But where it takes me beyond duck hunting, beyond the traditions of hunting into just these local communities. And I’m thinking of like these television ads back in America of Sally Field crying for the poor children and all this kind of stuff and I go into these communities like yesterday and they’re extremely poor people, but they’ve got dignity, they’re happy, they’re hard working, they live their life, they smile and they’re poor relative to rich gringo. They’re not poor to themselves, they’ve got what they want. They’ve got food, they’ve got access to the woods and the nature and the water.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s what they know.

Ramsey Russell: It’s what they know, but they’re happy. It’s not like something to feel sorry for, I don’t judge them, I don’t feel sorry for them.

Alvaro Aguilar: Actually big companies go there and they offer what these big companies think that what these people want is more jobs, more money and it’s not like that, they like living like that, they like their living.

Ramsey Russell: They want what they’ve got, they’re happy and I respect that so much and I’ve seen some things down here in Guatemala, some amazing things. For example, I just got to say we’re talking about Marco and we stayed at Marco’s family farm with his father, Marco’s dad, who has one of the foremost dairies in Guatemala and we got there, we got settled in, had a drink and he wanted to take us over to see where the cows were. I’ve seen dairy farms, I’m not saying – I’m used to seeing the black and white Holstein cows, these were not black and white Holstein, these were some special genetic, some breed that takes the heat, takes the weather here and he’s put a lot of investment into their genetics and he was explaining to us in Spanish and I’ll get a little interpretation from Andres as my interpreter on. And it’s not just the dairy, the milk he’s producing, it’s the genetic sire, the cows themselves. And for example, we go in there and first off there was this little boy, somebody’s son because I kept seeing him around the complex there, less than belt top, older than your oldest son who’s four, I’m going to say 6, he opened the gate, he comes in, he’s carrying his switch around and boy, he knows how to do that, he wasn’t scared of those little big old cows, he swing that switch in a heartbeat and been up around it since birth, but we go in and they’re milking the cows, got the machines hooked up but they leave a tit undone and sénior Marco explain that, because he’s also raising the animals for genetics that it was important that those calves drink the milk from their mother to get that cholesterol and all that good stuff. And so we look out and there’s just holding pin, if you ever been around a dairy farm, you don’t wear crocs, it’s a whole lot of cow shit on them. And all these cows are just sitting around and by this time the helper takes a little leash off, opens a gate and yells a name and all those calves just stood there, but coming around the corner like, he’s running third, going into home, come to calf that’s his name. He stops, he gets the leash put on him and then he pulled the handle to his mama and starts to drink. I’m like, oh my God, I can’t even imagine that. My wife had a little old Frankie dog that won’t come to her name unless you got cheese in your hands. You see this stuff, man. And my point being that child and those other Children, they’ve got a job, they’ve got a future, they’ve got a purpose, they’ve got a purpose life, a productive life that really had nothing to do with what some people consider a successor society.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly, its different type of measurements.

Ramsey Russell: It’s a different type of measurement and getting back on food.

Alvaro Aguilar: But that story, it’s amazing. Yeah, the calf being called by its name.

Ramsey Russell: It blows me away.

Alvaro Aguilar: It blows me away too. My grandfather had a cattle farm, he still has it, but now he has sugarcane in it. Calf for years, like 70 years.

Ramsey Russell: There’s a lot of sugarcane here.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, they’ve taken over, it’s more profitable to lease the land for sugarcane than to raise cattle. There’s a lot of less problems associated with that. So, my grandfather when he was like 72 or 73 that’s when he decided to lease the land that he was riding his horse, every single day, watching his cattle and then he came a time when he said it’s done and it was one of the toughest decisions ever in his life to leave that, even for me, I was raised that way and I love it.

Ramsey Russell: When you come to a fork in the road take it, I’ve always said.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. It was a smart decision but it was a painful one.

Ramsey Russell: When there’s a lot of sugarcane, which reminded me of every day, the fruits and the vegetables that we don’t have back home that I’ve been exposed to and I’ll give you an example. The first days when the Guatemala Uber foods pulls up, they got these coconuts that have been shucked their husks and had a hole punched in top and we drank the water and we peeled them out, we ate the meat.

Alvaro Aguilar: It was smacked up against the tree.

Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah, man. And I asked where did you – I said, you learn to do that in cook school? And he said, no, in the gym. I’ll call you back out for no reason, but you work out, I can tell.

Alvaro Aguilar: I was telling my friends Andres and then that was like a rite of passage with my grandfather whenever you’re like 8 or 10, if you can break a coconut with your hand, that’s the time he was proud of you.

Ramsey Russell: That rite of passage. And then there were other fruits and other juices like – I was looking at this tree the other day, it had a great big long gourd looking fruits and this little bitty thing on the end, I’m like, what the heck is that? And sénior Marco comes up and goes, it indicated it was cashew, I’m like, what? Cashew. I mean, I’m 55 years old, I’m a forester, I’ve never seen a cashew tree and that little one fruit that big fruit, bigger than a banana and on the end is a little nut lit and I’m thinking how many of those pieces of fruit did it take to make a pound of cashews? Because I love cashews. Then you take the pulpy part and then make a juice. So, I’ve had coconut water, coconut milk, cashew juice and then there was another fruit tree, a star fruit and it’s like every day there’s all this stuff around here that and that is right in my wheelhouse of man, I’m immersing myself neck deep in this country Guatemala, I love that stuff, man. And I love to learn – and like even the crop, I still don’t know what kind of grass it was, he said it originated in Colombia that he was feeding his cows for silage. I’ve never seen that before, but it must be high sugar content because he grows a lot of it and harvest a lot of it and feed it to those cows out there in those little troughs, it’s just been amazing, it’s been utterly amazing. I’ve never seen sea salt before until I came to Guatemala and the sea salt farms and which are not good for ducks at all, but it’s been just an amazing culture. But we started talking, you told me the first day, hey, on the last night you come to my house and we’re going to cook and we had a big dinner party last night and you all had your wives and I mean, as a fellow duck hunter and I now consider your family and friend, man, I was so glad to see that you all’s wives were as blind as they are beautiful, that a bunch of you ugly duck hunters had beautiful wives and families just like I do.

Alvaro Aguilar: We’re funny, we get them with humor.

Passing on the Duck Hunting Tradition

I think, it’s very important to me to keep that connection with the animals and with the food, whatever food they eat to understand what that means. 

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you must, man. But anyway, it was wonderful just to meet everybody’s better half and meet your children. Which how important to you is it that your two-year-old and four-year-old – like last night, you’re right, man, when you started turning out that duck, they were right on the foot, grabbing it, man they loved it. How important is it to you to pass the tradition of duck coming on to your children?

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, it’s very important to me to keep that connection with the animals and with the food, whatever food they eat to understand what that means. And like I’m going to keep repeating it, it’s not only about the hunt, it’s what that animal becomes after that and that becomes what happened yesterday. Just a reunion where you can talk a lot of BS, a lot of good stuff and just keep that story alive.

Ramsey Russell: I had so much last night, I had so much fun meeting everybody and eating and socializing and mercifully and thankfully all of you all speak such great English and you understand my terrible English and my accent. And so I really connected with a lot of you all. I want to get into talking about cooking the ducks. But first, let me ask you this, we’ve got whistling ducks, pato real, blue winged teal, a few pintails, a few gadwalls, maybe a few green wings, do you have a favorite duck or is it all the same down here?

Alvaro Aguilar: They’re all the same down here, but if you ask me personally, what is my favorite duck? And it’s the mallard, the one I was used to eating in restaurants before it coming to Guatemala.

Duck Tostadas & Other Culinary Delights

Then you cut them really thinly and on the tostada, put the pepper spread, put then the duck, the pickled vegetables, the chorizo and at the end, the green salsa that it was tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic onions.

Ramsey Russell: Like the Peking duck. Well, now look if wild ducks tasted as good as the Peking duck, they would be extinct.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly. Oh, yeah, absolutely. I agree.

Ramsey Russell: But in terms of the wild ducks you hunt down here, do you have a preference for the species that you all encounter?

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, the whistlers are amazing and now, I love the blue winged teal, 8 years ago that wasn’t the story because we didn’t treat the animal with the respect and care that we do now.

Ramsey Russell: Because they’re so abundant.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And we cook that, we try just simple recipes in on the grill, very dry duck, so we didn’t enjoy it. So once I started digging into techniques, taking care of the product in the hunting right there, put it on ice, had a special cooler for the ducks, don’t let them – its warm here, we talked about this. So that’s not good for the animal. So now we took the right amount of steps to make that product as good as yesterday where you can eat it almost raw. We had a little bit of fish and it was raw and it’s like, a good quality fish, like a tartar. And so it’s become a tradition to take care of the product, so we have this amazing product at the end in the meal when we cook it.

Ramsey Russell: We get to your home last night and you’re going to cook and I’ve cooked before, but man, you had like a full blown – it was like going into a chef’s movie set or something with all the pots and sauces and ingredients, you were chopping out, I was thinking, man, I got all my fingers cut, I can’t chop like that, I don’t chop like that, a very sharp knife, I mean, very professional and you were getting after it. And I mean, it’s like you’re in a busy kitchen at busy time, you had all these things going on, you cooked duck 4 different ways. First thing, I saw when I walked in was that ice chest full of ducks, all those ducks we shot the other day and plucked and kept, I said, surely we’re not eating all these ducks, not unless you’re inviting half the town. But you did do a lot of duck cooking. We started with the Tostada, walk me through how to cook that Tostada because that was amazing.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. I think, I made it once a version of it, a couple of years ago actually for the guys and we love them so much that now I replicate a Tostada always because I think they’re so delicious and I did this paste of Mexican chilies, it had like 6 different type of chilies.

Ramsey Russell: What chilies did it have in it?

Alvaro Aguilar: I’m going to say in Spanish because I don’t know in English, it’s cascabel, pasilla, chipotle.

Ramsey Russell: I know that word.

Alvaro Aguilar: You know that one. Mulato and morita, I don’t know how you say it –

Ramsey Russell: I recognize those great big red ones, anchovies –

Alvaro Aguilar: Achiote.

Ramsey Russell: Achiote, that’s the one I recognized.

Alvaro Aguilar: And so yeah.

Ramsey Russell: You roasted them first?

Alvaro Aguilar: No, just boil them. You can roast them but it’s a different process.

Ramsey Russell: And then you blended them, pureed them –

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, with the garlic, onions.

Ramsey Russell: And it was spicy but not tears in your eye, it was just flavorful and spicy.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, the chile de arbol, that’s the one I’m missing, chile de arbol, that’s very spicy. So I only put like 3 or 4 of them and that’s what gave them the spiciness. And then it goes with a little bit of mayo and a little bit of can chipotle with cream.

Ramsey Russell: You did put a little cream in it, that’s why it got that kind of orange color.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly. And that was the spread on the bottom.

Ramsey Russell: Took a crunchy Tostada and we put this wonderful pepper sauce on top, then what?

Alvaro Aguilar: And then I did some pickled vegetables, celery, onion, red peppers, two different types of vinegars, sherry vinegar and it’s called sharp vinegar, it’s made out of different ingredients and water just to pickle them.

Ramsey Russell: Pickle them quickly.

Alvaro Aguilar: Quickly. Yeah, maybe less than an hour and then you drain them and then I made a chorizo. But it’s a Spanish chorizo. It’s a harder one, it doesn’t crumble like the Mexican.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve seen it and it was smaller diameter. Because I didn’t recognize what it was.

Alvaro Aguilar: It has a lot of flavor, it compliments perfectly with the duck, I think, it’s a great combination.

Ramsey Russell: And you use duck breast.

Alvaro Aguilar: And then I pull all of the breasts and I did a marinade with aguachile that it has, Maggie sauce, soy sauce, I don’t know if I’m saying this right, the Worcester.

Ramsey Russell: Worcestershire, people call it different ways, I call it Worcestershire.

Alvaro Aguilar: Worcestershire and limes and that had a lot of chile chokolade, it’s a different type of chili.

Ramsey Russell: And it looked like a cow horn pepper, what I call a cow horn pepper back home.

Alvaro Aguilar: It has tons of flavors and it’s not that spicy. So grab that marinade, put the ducks in it and the heart, I pull them out, I put a little bit of balsamic glaze and pimenton from Spain that it’s like paprika and then put them in the grill, high heat, maybe a minute or so on each side, so it was completely medium rare perfectly. Then you cut them really thinly and on the tostada, put the pepper spread, put then the duck, the pickled vegetables, the chorizo and at the end, the green salsa that it was tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic onions.

Ramsey Russell: It’s kind of like a street taco. When I see tomatoes salsa, I think of like street taco salsa.

Alvaro Aguilar: I think that’s exactly it.

Ramsey Russell: And it was all these different flavors, it was all these different savory and vinegary and spicy and a little bit of sweetness and it just – oh my God.

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, it’s a perfect combination.

Ramsey Russell: I ate 2 of them and would have eaten all of them, but I knew you had 3 more dishes coming.

Alvaro Aguilar: That was the starter.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve taken intermission. Speaking of starters, I’ll take an intermission and say that you run this ice company and I think a bagged ice is being just the kind of ice you dump into an ice chest and your company here makes these great big, whiskey balls, you know what you call them? Not quite as big as a baseball that you put in a shot glass or put in a highball glass and the best, I had no idea Guatemala had a rum culture, the best rum I’ve ever had.

Alvaro Aguilar: Oh yeah, it’s actually the best rum in the world. And this one was aging in whiskey husks, a cask, that’s how it’s called and they were –

Ramsey Russell: Aged for 24 years. I’ve never had rum poured over ice, I’ve just never had that. We good?

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Okay. And I’ve never. But the craziest thing was, man, I met everybody, I had had some great conversations, I had finished my first drink and I turned in to go see and you all just, let me say this, you have got the cleanest glass doors on earth. Because I’ve been walking in and out of that door and I walked right into that glass and the bad thing is every single body but you was there to see it and you heard about it, yeah, you heard it and your sweet wife was like, are you okay? I’m like, I’m fine my ego is bruised forever but I’m fine.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s a good one. I heard it, I started laughing, that was funny.

Ramsey Russell: I mean, I just like smack and it was no stopping, I was fully committed, it’s a wonder that didn’t knock me out, I would have been embarrassed then. But anyway.

Alvaro Aguilar: You chuck it down with another rum.

Ramsey Russell: I sure did, I felt much better after that second rum. What was the second dish we had because that was beautiful. That was something. I don’t know what that was. It was a platter with a lot of peppers and sauce.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And that’s the aguachile. So it has three black sauces that it’s the Maggie juice, it has the Worcestershire, the soy sauce, lime and the chilies, tons of chili, that’s where the flavor comes from. And we did the exact same thing for the duck breasts just very lightly seared, so these were actually more raw because it cooks a little bit –

Ramsey Russell: It was rare to tartare.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, it cooks with the lime and all the black sauces and the chilies, if you leave them in there just for a couple of minutes it doesn’t need more, it will cook it a little bit.

Ramsey Russell: Chemically. Kind like ceviche.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, exactly. The exact same thing.

Ramsey Russell: It was amazing.

Alvaro Aguilar: It was, I love it. I usually do that dish with tenderloin and shrimp, the exact same dish with avocados and fried onions on top of it and I thought about it because whenever I’m going to cook the day before I don’t sleep because I don’t plan anything in advance, I usually go to the market and whatever it’s available in the market, that’s when I make the recipes.

Ramsey Russell: Well, you were telling me that. Nothing you cook last night, come out of a recipe book, it was just you thought around, okay, I think I’m going to cook these dishes, then you went to the groceries or the market, okay, well, here’s what they got, so here’s what I’m going to do. Man, that is so artistic and out there to turn out that incredible.

Alvaro Aguilar: Thank you. And I think that’s what I would love cooking so much many years ago when I was in culinary school, I didn’t have this feeling, I had a pressure for knowing how to cook and like everything in life, everything comes with trial and error with experience getting your hands dirty. And if you go to college, and you go there to study accounting, you’re not going to be the best accounting coming right after college, it takes time like anything. Architects, lawyers –

Ramsey Russell: You kind of have to develop your art, find your medium.

Alvaro Aguilar: Exactly, like everything in life. And so I didn’t enjoy cooking as much as I do now because with experience, I know how to fix something if it’s going on the wrong way and now I have – I don’t know if I can say this the balls to say, if it’s not good, I’m going to throw it out and then make a new one. But before that, my ego was hurt and I will serve you if I don’t like it because I was ashamed of throwing it. Now I said, fuck it and I throw it and cook it again.

Ramsey Russell: Well, the last dish proved that, but the first get on to the 3rd course. I’m telling you that the 4th dish, folks, you all listen, this is going to blow your mind.

Alvaro Aguilar: No, we go through the 3rd one now.

Ramsey Russell: 3rd dish, now that was a stew. What was that called?

Alvaro Aguilar: Pozole. Yeah, it’s a Mexican soup stew.

Ramsey Russell: And it was amazing. Man, that was like my favorite because it was spicy without being hot. Like having your hot, it was just – it made my eyebrows sweat and I like that.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, I think that’s my favorite Mexican dish.

Ramsey Russell: What all was in that pot?

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s my mother’s in-law recipe.

Ramsey Russell: Oh yeah. Well, I was going to say, Iva told me that when your mother-in-law, who at the time was your future mother-in-law first served it to you, she said, when he ate that’s when he fell in love with me, that’s what she told me.

Alvaro Aguilar: Absolutely, yeah. I think that dish has history, it has feelings.

Ramsey Russell: Because I told her, I fell in love with you too when I first tasted it.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. It’s amazing because I love cooking so much and my mother in law loves cooking as well. So we spend, in Mexico and in many cultures, the kitchen is for the girls and I don’t care. I go in the kitchen and my father in law, he’s very old school, so he loves to cook now, but it wasn’t that way always. So, when I went into the family and I was right next to my mother in law cooking, helping, watching and just learning because she cooks amazing food and the best, I think it’s the pozole and we eat it at least a couple of times when I go and visit every Sunday and it’s perfect for hangovers.

Ramsey Russell: It’s kind of like Mexican soul food because of the ingredients, talk about some of the ingredients you put in there.

Alvaro Aguilar: So, everything that I’m saying comes from a chili paste, right? But it has 2 or 3 types of chilies. Chili arbol, pasilla and guajillo and then it has pork ribs, a pork espinazo that it’s like bones I think comes from the back and pig’s feet. The Hominy white corn and oregano and that’s it. But the flavor that it develops over time, it’s delicious.

Ramsey Russell: It’s like a Mexican version of Deep South. The pig’s feet, the hominy, the peppers it was – and then you put some of the blue wing.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And then because I was thinking, the day before cooking what I love to eat right? And I kept thinking of the pozole and I wanted for you to try it and my friends to eat and again because they’ve had it before. And I was thinking this might work with duck and I think it was delicious with the grilled duck on it, I chopped them up and put –

Ramsey Russell: It added that grilled smoky flavor just added something to it, that just set it off man.

Alvaro Aguilar: I know, I think it was delicious. It was the right spiciness, it was hot but it was extremely hot that’s what my mother in law some time she makes us cry of how much heat she has in the pozole. But yesterday I think it was right balance.

Ramsey Russell: My wife is similar to your mother in law. She really likes heat and she used to make these beautiful baked beans and it just got out of hand, we finally had to say no. You can’t make them that hot, we can’t eat them and she throttle back a little bit, so that we can – and I like spicy food but this was too much.

Alvaro Aguilar: It needs balance or if not, it misses the flavor.

Ramsey Russell: Right. I came in there after the little cuckoo bird swarming around me trying to walk through your door, settled down, I come in there and you got a rum and you were breasting those birds and get them clean and get them ready to start cooking a lot of these dishes. And you had the whole pick ducks, you had breasted out and then you had the carcass laying aside and I did not understand fully what you were saying, how you were going to cook them. It had something to do, you’re going to put them in a pressure cooker and then you’re going to do something. I did not in a million years, see what was coming next in a million years. And you said, you just had this sitting around things that I think I’m going to try this, talking about the balls to try something with a duck and I can only describe that as duck carcass chicharrones.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, that’s what they came out because I have no clue what the final product was going to look like. But I had a vision in my mind between either chicharrones or a chicken wing, that’s what I was thinking, it can go both ways.

Ramsey Russell: You kind of went both ways. But when you brought it out, the entire dinner party grew quiet and we looked at it. And we’re all looking at each other like who’s going to go first.

Nose to Tail Cooking

…I was thinking about it, I’m like, how I’m going to cook the entire bird…

Alvaro Aguilar: I did. So, this is a funny story for you to understand me why I did that. Many years ago when I started dating my wife back in 2010, I thought she was a foodie that she ate everything because she was in hospitality and usually people in hospitality loves to eat and they have a little bit of knowledge about cooking and eating in the right places. So, on the first day, I took her to a restaurant in Houston that their philosophy was from nose to tail. So they ate the whole animal, they cook everything, with pork with chickens with ducks, they serve a sausage and on the very front of it had the whole head of the duck, that’s how he presented it. And I was looking forward to going to that restaurant because the chef went into our school to give a lecture and I fell in love with the idea and I’m like, this is it, this is what I want to do, I think this is magical to respect the whole animal and I took her and my wife did not eat anything. She ate pasta with olive oil and that time – yeah, she didn’t eat seafood and she didn’t eat a lot of stuff and I didn’t know that and I took her on the first date, she wanted to die, but she didn’t say anything. And look how many years later, 12 year later, we’re still dating, I’m glad she didn’t leave me after that date. So, I got that philosophy from this chef and on Thursday, I was thinking about it, I’m like, how I’m going to cook the entire bird and I came up with that recipe and it was only in my mind, so what I did was boil the carcasses that it still had the like the dark meat, whatever you call the dark meat from the wing, the back, the legs –

Ramsey Russell: The back, the legs, whatever was on the breast and peeled out.

Alvaro Aguilar: And many times when I’m grilling the ducks, sometimes I tried the bones because they grilled and they become crunchy. So, I always kept thinking that this might be a chicharrone and yesterday it was the opportunity to try it. So I boiled the carcasses and leave them there to boil for, I don’t know, maybe like an hour.

Ramsey Russell: In a pressure cooker?

Alvaro Aguilar: No, just cover. And then I dropped that water because when you boil any type of meat, all the impurities come out. So I dropped that water, put clean water again on it and then I pressure cook it for maybe an hour, I think. So, total cooking time was like two hours. And then after that I fry them.

Ramsey Russell: And what kind of oil was that?

Alvaro Aguilar: Vegetable oil. You can do it with any high heat oil, peanuts or –

Ramsey Russell: But it wasn’t terribly high because you let them fry for a pretty good while and it seemed to me like to be more of a simmer than a hot fry.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah, it wasn’t hot, at the end, I put a little bit more heat just to raise the temperature of that oil. But yeah, it was maybe like a medium, if I have to say temperature maybe like around 325° to 350° and fry them and after that, I think they were amazing. I made a chili again.

Ramsey Russell: What were the sauces that you put on there because that’s where the hot wings inspiration comes in because we didn’t eat it just like that, you brought some sauces out.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yes, sir. What it had is, it had the same paste, the chili paste with the 6 chilies. But this time I put honey and white wine and we mixed them up with all the fried ducks. And then I made like a powder of a tortilla, fried tortilla, peanuts and sesame and I mixed them all up –

Ramsey Russell: Was that more for flavor or texture?

Alvaro Aguilar: For flavor. I think, in my mind, I thought it went well with the sauces and with the crunchiness as well, that I was expecting.

Ramsey Russell: I had my phone out and I was filming, I want to get reactions, especially from the ladies.

Alvaro Aguilar: I was impressed that they tried it actually, I never thought. I was intrigued and then I was surprised in a very good way that they were –

Ramsey Russell: Everybody loved it. And it’s like, they very cautiously to be polite, to be a good guest, took a little bite and a bit into it and I would describe it, texture and flavor wise, kind of like, my favorite part on a fried chicken, a deep fried chicken in the south is the crunchy, the real crunchy part. Like sometimes you get on the backbone where it’s done, that’s what it was like. It was like that fried chicken bone, that’s what it was like.

Alvaro Aguilar: That’s exactly what it was like.

Ramsey Russell: And you see their eyes get big and smile and give you the okay or the thumbs up and they reach for another piece. Great call man, great risk, I guess you could say.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And I think that was the best part of the night being able to replicate the nose to tail philosophy and seeing everybody enjoy the meal as well as our time together, the conversations, I think it was a perfect night, it was amazing. And that was the cherry on top of everything, it came out great.

Ramsey Russell: It was a true Guatemalan culinary adventure that last step, that was just a little over the top. And you said something as we were cooking, why it was important to you was just to use the whole thing like you said, the nose to tail. It goes back to your previous comments about respect to the resource and valuing it. But man, I’ll tell you what, that’s another level, I’m going to take this carcass and I’m going to cook it and then I’m going to fry it and then you eat the whole freaking thing, I’ve never even heard of such.

Alvaro Aguilar: And I really hope that you have this huge exposure, one of the, if not the biggest guy in duck hunting and I hope that this spreads, that people understand that it’s not only poppers what they can do that, which are amazing and I completely love them, but go and try and try that recipe and try different techniques, don’t be afraid of exploring anything. Just try it, if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter, throw it out and then try again.

Ramsey Russell: Start again, that’s part of it, it really is part of it.

Alvaro Aguilar: And don’t miss on the entire animal because it’s delicious now you know a technique.

Seeing Guatemala Through Local Eyes

We’re very blessed in our country and it will be great for people to come and live it, that’s how you do it.

Ramsey Russell: Folks, I’m telling you, this is not something crazy, this is real deal, I’m a changed man, it’s unbelievable. One question I had for you is, you’ve traveled around, you’ve been around now, I mean, kind of like Toto, best of both worlds, you have had a lot of experience. What do you love most about Guatemala? I mean, it’s just home, I know it’s your home.

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, it’s home and that’s –

Ramsey Russell: I’m asking it wrong. It’s like, how would you describe what you love in Guatemala to a listener like myself a month ago that didn’t see Guatemala coming.

Alvaro Aguilar: I think, it’s the territory, the land. Guatemala, it’s not very big, you can travel anywhere, it’s small distance, very long time to get there because of all the mountains and everything, but in such a small country you find everything. We’ve talked about how many type of fruits, how many type of vegetables, how many dishes and it’s the same with the activities. We can climb volcanoes, we have 23 volcanoes in Guatemala, you can go deep fishing one of the best, if not the best sailfish it’s here in Guatemala, Mahi Mahi or anything, Marlins. And now, we have for a very small group of Guatemala, we have the hunting. And so I think Guatemala, it’s amazing, it has everything, you go to the north and you see the Mayan ruins and it’s just amazing, it’s a beautiful country. And its home, we have our family, we have our friends and if you don’t have all the money in the world here, you’re happy. Somebody has something to do at the end of the week and we get together with our friends, light a fire, talks on BS and that’s I think what’s life is about. We’re very blessed in our country and it will be great for people to come and live it, that’s how you do it.

Ramsey Russell: That’s a great way to describe it. I said, this before I fell asleep the first night, after the first day’s hunt when I met all you all. My last cognizant thought was if I ever run away from home, here’s where you can find me. I never saw it coming, I love Guatemala.

Alvaro Aguilar: Yeah. And we are lucky to have you here and this is your home and for your listeners as well, come and check it out for yourself and leave the experience and please eat the entire animal.

Ramsey Russell: Folks, you all have been listening to my buddy, Big Al, good eats. I told him, you need to open a restaurant, Big Al, good eats. Alvaro Aguilar, my good friend now here in Guatemala. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, see you next time.


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Benelli USA Shotguns. Trust is earned. By the numbers, I’ve bagged 121 waterfowl subspecies bagged on 6 continents, 20 countries, 36 US states and growing. I spend up to 225 days per year chasing ducks, geese and swans worldwide, and I don’t use shotgun for the brand name or the cool factor. Y’all know me way better than that. I’ve shot, Benelli Shotguns for over two decades. I continue shooting Benelli shotguns for their simplicity, utter reliability and superior performance. Whether hunting near home or halfway across the world, that’s the stuff that matters.

HuntProof, the premier mobile waterfowl app, is an absolute game changer. Quickly and easily attribute each hunt or scouting report to include automatic weather and pinpoint mapping; summarize waterfowl harvest by season, goose and duck species; share with friends within your network; type a hunt narrative and add photos. Migrational predictor algorithms estimate bird activity and, based on past hunt data will use weather conditions and hunt history to even suggest which blind will likely be most productive!

Inukshuk Professional Dog Food Our beloved retrievers are high-performing athletes that live to recover downed birds regardless of conditions. That’s why Char Dawg is powered by Inukshuk. With up to 720 kcals/ cup, Inukshuk Professional Dog Food is the highest-energy, highest-quality dog food available. Highly digestible, calorie-dense formulas reduce meal size and waste. Loaded with essential omega fatty acids, Inuk-nuk keeps coats shining, joints moving, noses on point. Produced in New Brunswick, Canada, using only best-of-best ingredients, Inukshuk is sold directly to consumers. I’ll feed nothing but Inukshuk. It’s like rocket fuel. The proof is in Char Dawg’s performance.

Tetra Hearing Delivers premium technology that’s specifically calibrated for the users own hearing and is comfortable, giving hunters a natural hearing experience, while still protecting their hearing. Using patent-pending Specialized Target Optimization™ (STO), the world’s first hearing technology designed optimize hearing for hunters in their specific hunting environments. TETRA gives hunters an edge and gives them their edge back. Can you hear me now?! Dang straight I can. Thanks to Tetra Hearing!

Voormi Wool-based technology is engineered to perform. Wool is nature’s miracle fiber. It’s light, wicks moisture, is inherently warm even when wet. It’s comfortable over a wide temperature gradient, naturally anti-microbial, remaining odor free. But Voormi is not your ordinary wool. It’s new breed of proprietary thermal wool takes it next level–it doesn’t itch, is surface-hardened to bead water from shaking duck dogs, and is available in your favorite earth tones and a couple unique concealment patterns. With wool-based solutions at the yarn level, Voormi eliminates the unwordly glow that’s common during low light while wearing synthetics. The high-e hoodie and base layers are personal favorites that I wear worldwide. Voormi’s growing line of innovative of performance products is authenticity with humility. It’s the practical hunting gear that we real duck hunters deserve.

Mojo Outdoors, most recognized name brand decoy number one maker of motion and spinning wing decoys in the world. More than just the best spinning wing decoys on the market, their ever growing product line includes all kinds of cool stuff. Magnetic Pick Stick, Scoot and Shoot Turkey Decoys much, much more. And don’t forget my personal favorite, yes sir, they also make the one – the only – world-famous Spoonzilla. When I pranked Terry Denman in Mexico with a “smiling mallard” nobody ever dreamed it would become the most talked about decoy of the century. I’ve used Mojo decoys worldwide, everywhere I’ve ever duck hunted from Azerbaijan to Argentina. I absolutely never leave home without one. Mojo Outdoors, forever changing the way you hunt ducks.

BOSS Shotshells copper-plated bismuth-tin alloy is the good ol’ days again. Steel shot’s come a long way in the past 30 years, but we’ll never, ever perform like good old fashioned lead. Say goodbye to all that gimmicky high recoil compensation science hype, and hello to superior performance. Know your pattern, take ethical shots, make clean kills. That is the BOSS Way. The good old days are now.

Tom Beckbe The Tom Beckbe lifestyle is timeless, harkening an American era that hunting gear lasted generations. Classic design and rugged materials withstand the elements. The Tensas Jacket is like the one my grandfather wore. Like the one I still wear. Because high-quality Tom Beckbe gear lasts. Forever. For the hunt.

Flashback Decoy by Duck Creek Decoy Works. It almost pains me to tell y’all about Duck Creek Decoy Work’s new Flashback Decoy because in  the words of Flashback Decoy inventor Tyler Baskfield, duck hunting gear really is “an arms race.” At my Mississippi camp, his flashback decoy has been a top-secret weapon among my personal bag of tricks. It behaves exactly like a feeding mallard, making slick-as-glass water roil to life. And now that my secret’s out I’ll tell y’all something else: I’ve got 3 of them.

Ducks Unlimited takes a continental, landscape approach to wetland conservation. Since 1937, DU has conserved almost 15 million acres of waterfowl habitat across North America. While DU works in all 50 states, the organization focuses its efforts and resources on the habitats most beneficial to waterfowl.

It really is Duck Season Somewhere for 365 days. Ramsey Russell’s Duck Season Somewhere podcast is available anywhere you listen to podcasts. Please subscribe, rate and review Duck Season Somewhere podcast. Share your favorite episodes with friends. Business inquiries or comments contact Ramsey Russell at And be sure to check out our new GetDucks Shop.  Connect with Ramsey Russell as he chases waterfowl hunting experiences worldwide year-round: Insta @ramseyrussellgetducks, YouTube @DuckSeasonSomewherePodcast,  Facebook @GetDucks