This memory is made of dust, the dust of the unpaved road we needed to travel from our town, Lagos de Moreno, to get to the ranch, long before the construction of the current road. The monotonous semiarid landscape of Los Altos de Jalisco: acacias, cactus, and the maguey plants that are birria's essence. Its cut blades, stripped of thorns, washed and charred, line the interior of the vessel where the calf is cooked. On my uncle's ranch, 50-gallon metal drums are used; water is poured on the bottom and a grill is placed inside, making an unbeatable makeshift steamer. The largest pieces of meat are placed in the bottom, the head in the center, and the small pieces on top. The top is then covered with more maguey leaves, so that the calf is thoroughly wrapped, and the whole thing is placed on a rack over a wood fire. You need to have a fire of medium intensity, one that is constant but never angry. Tightly close the steamer—a huge stone set on top is the perfect solution—and wait, depending on the weight and age of the animal, between two-and-a-half and four hours.