Edit Blog Post
Published: November 1st 2010
HOLA FROM MEXICO! GUADALAJARA
I have been here before, a looong time ago, to watch Brazil play during a world cup in the 80's. Now I return for a quick 5 day trip to the land of the mariachi, tequila, and the sombrero (big hat). Gastronomy
I always get a kick out of observing the breakfast menu of different countries. My favorite breakfasts are the simple Turkish one, with crusty bread, tomato, olives, cucumber, cheese and dried fruit, and the Chinese, with green vegetables (ok to call me weird), soup, rice and a little meat (which I don't eat).
Now, the Mexican Breakfast
: the first word which come to mind to describe it? weird
. Tongue stew, tripe stew, fried pork skin stew and other unadendified organs stews for breakfast!!!! Those are weird foods to have for the first meal of the day, even if you don't favor a vegetarian menu, right? But, luckily for me, there were some other delicious mild vegetarian options, like cheese and mushroom pastry, refried beans, gorditas, cactus and papaya, and they were all delicious.
Boy the Mexicans like their food HOT! Chilli pepper is eaten with everything. I mean everything, from
fruit to popcorn. Adults and kids alike, starting with breakfast, add the various types of peppers to all they eat! My mouth was set on fire on several occasions, accidentally, as the chillis kept sneaking into my food, despite my plea for “no caliente, por favor”.
The Street Food kingdom is vast here, with a million variations of tacos filled with meat from every part of the animal anatomy. The concept of a meal with no meat, and on top of it, not "picante", doesn’t exist to Mexicans, but it makes perfect sense to me. I've sticked with the beans, cheese, nopales (cactus), guacamole and green tomato salsa, without the hot chillies, definitely very boring by Mexican standards, but delicious to my taste buds. Tortilla soup with cheese and avocado is a hit, and there are other vegetarian options around.
Thank God I haven't seen any huge pot filled up with boiling water and floating cattle eyes on this trip, like I saw last time I was here. But, I did see grasshopper
on a fancy restaurant menu, and, of course, I didn't dare to order it.
We went to a fantastic restaurant in Guadalajara, called Santo Coyote
The place is huge, with a beautiful outdoor atmosphere, filled with folk art and plants everywhere, mariachis band playing, dancers, etc. Very lively and with great food as well. We got a private tour with a guide and all, including to the bar next door, called "Santo Cachorro" (Saint Dog!!!), which is currently running a ridiculously unbelievable riffle: "Sin bubis no hay paraiso" ( "Without boobs there is no paradise"). Yeap!!! You buy drinks and to run a chance of winning a plastic surgery to get new breast implants!!!!! TLAQUEPAQUE
The idea of getting out of the center of the big city and into a more mellow district with galleries, Bed & Breakfasts, and a square, always appeal to me. So, we left Guadalajara to spend the weekend in Tlaquepaque, ” Mexico's arts and crafts capital”.
We chose the lovely "Quinta Don Jose Boutique Hotel". Highly recommended. Only the breakfast was disappointing.
Did Tlaquepaque meet our expectations? Oh, yes! The small town atmosphere, made for a very enjoyable visit. Strolling the cobblestone streets lined with folk-art galleries and restaurants housed in 18th century colonial mansions with vast courtyards, high ceilings and grand arches was a delight. Many
of the buidings used to be farm houses of the rich from Guadalajara. The art work is incredibly beautiful and purchased by the wealthy foreigners and Mexicans who visit the area.
On the streets, however, we saw mostly locals. During the weekend, they crowded the square and streets late into the night, talking, playing and walking while eating foods packed in little bags, like potatoes, corn, beans, and jicama… all with chilli and purchased from the many streets stands. There was a festival feeling in the air. On Sunday, the central square hundreds of locals dressed in indigenous costumes performing dances for hours to the sound of drums. They carried banners of catholic church saints. It was a vibrant celebration which involved kids and adults alike. Very interesting. (see photos) Dia de los Muertos
Day of the Dead is celebrated on November 1. Many restaurants and stores already had an altar with their Catrina’s picture, candles, flowers, etc, by the front door to remember and celebrate the dead.
I got introduced to 2 characters of Mexican folk culture: the fascinating LA CATRINA
and EL NAHURAL
La Catrina is the stylish scull, who makes mischief. On November 1
and 2, when Mexicans celebrate the Day of the Dead, they make an altar where they put La Catrina dressed with the dead person's favorite clothe, and by her side, all her other favorites, like food, drinks, and objects.
NAHURAL: Acording to the Aztec tradition, when a person is born, he or she has a spirit of an animal to protect and guide him/her, called nahual.
. Back to Guadalajara. I walked from the hotel, passed a hospital thru the arch, a park and to the big Basílica de Zapopan, the home to Nuestra Señora de Zapopan, a tiny statue of the Virgin visited by pilgrims from near and far. The devotees crawl up the basilica's aisle on their knees to pray for favors at her altar. Throughout the year the statue makes a tour of other churches in Jalisco, eventually reaching Guadalajara.
On October 12, the statue is taken from Guadalajara's cathedral and returned to Zapopan, drawing hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The Virgin receives a new car each year for the procession, but the engine is never turned on, thus remaining 'virginal'. The car is hauled along by ropes!!! I'd love to know what the
priests do to the "old-new" car, once the virgin gets the new one.
I got a chance to practice my Spanish, to appreciate the Mexican culture, to meet friendly people, and to taste the true Mexican cuisine, not the completely distorted American version we insult by calling Mexican food in the US. So different from what it's served here!!!
However, I must say that I was shocked to see the extent of obesity on the streets. It is definitely a problem here, as much as it is in the US. The subject made headlines on the major newspaper a couple of days ago, as a major problem affecting the country (let's not discuss the drug cartel), leading to diabetes, heart disease, etc. But, the problem is not necessarily the traditional food, but the consumption of processed food, in large amount, and less physical activity.... like everywhere else in the world. I'll leave it at that.
Like always, it was great merging into another culture.
Til next one.
Tot: 0.953s; Tpl: 0.082s; cc: 15; qc: 34; dbt: 0.0285s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb