La Rosca de Reyes

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LaRoscadeReyes

Si te tocó el muñequito, ¡No te hagas rosca!

La noche del 6 de enero es una tradición compartir la riquísima Rosca de Reyes y acompañarla con un delicioso chocolate caliente. El día de los Reyes Magos es una de las fiestas más importantes de la religión cristiana, porque representa el día en que Jesús se dió a conocer al mundo, así, desde que la iglesia católica reconoció la fecha, se festejaba en grande con una gran merienda, en la cual se partía un pastel o bizcocho, tradición que se conservó durante la Edad Media.

El origen de la rosca.
La rosca es de origen español y cuando los españoles llegaron a México, fue una de las tradiciones religiosas que inculcaron en los pueblos prehispánicos. Las roscas suelen ser redondas, pero en México se le ha dado forma ovalada para que muchos puedan disfrutar de ella. Se le decora con frutos secos como higos, membrillos, cerezas y acitrón. Pero, ¿Por qué la rosca encierra un niñito? Pues bien, antes no era un niñito lo que se escondía, sino un dulce o una haba que se colocaba dentro del pan y se cree que representaba el “esconder” al Niño Dios para protegerlo de Herodes. El problema era que muchos se tragaban el dulce o el haba y ahí se terminaba toda la tradición, por lo que se empezaron a colocar niñitos de pasta, porcelana y ahora plástico.

¡Los tamales en La Candelaria!
Por otro lado, su significado tiene que ver con los ritos que se desarrollan después del nacimiento de un niño y así, quien encuentra al niñito o a los niñitos (porque ahora suelen ser varios), se convierten en padrinos o madrinas y tienen la obligación de hacer una cena con tamales, chocolate o atole el 2 de febrero, y de invitar a todos los que también compartieron la rosca.

El día 6 de enero también se acostumbra “levantar al niño”, es decir, se quita el nacimiento y en muchos lugares el Niño Dios es entregadoa los padrinos que se habían escogido desde Navidad, para que el 2 de febrero, durante la fiesta de la Candelaria, lo vistan elegantemente y según la tradición cristiana, lo lleven a bendecir al templo, como sucedió con Jesús, quien a los 40 días de nacido fue presentado con los sacerdotes.

Partir la rosca se ha hecho tan popular, que no sólo se comparte en los hogares con las familias, sino también en las oficinas, escuelas y otros sitios.

Asi que, si te tocó el muñequito…
¡no te hagas rosca!
…mejor invítanos a comer tamales.

Pan Dulce

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This is Breakfast

A Basket of Pan Dulce (Sweet Breads)

Breakfast in Mexico is a very important affair. This is a country where breakfast really is the cardinal meal of the day. My spanish teacher joked this week about foreigners who only eat a piece of toast for breakfast. Her mocking of us, really summed up the mexicans’ love for ‘desayuno’.  If you go out for breakfast, which a lot of families do at the weekends , or if you are making a big family breakfast, the meal begins with Pan Dulce. Pan Dulce means ‘sweet bread’. They come in many different forms but they are ALL tasty! As a european, they remind me of home, as they taste like patisseries with a mexican twist. . As a foreigner, I would be happy just eating pan dulce and stopping there, but this is Mexico, so make sure to save room for the huge amount of food that follows. Pan Dulce are also eaten as a ‘Merienda‘. They can be bought from a lot of tiendas (small grocery shops equivalent to corner shops in the UK) and also bakeries (‘panaderías’).

Pan Dulce is sold in a lot of Miscelenea Tiendas

My favourite Pan Dulce (that I have tried so far) is the Concha, which means ‘shell’. Its soft and light in the middle with a textured shell. Its crumbly and absolutely delicious.

¡Provecho!

Una Concha

La Poblanita

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This is Street Food

La Poblanita , located right near the Catedral de Puebla (in the historical center), is a street food vendor which sells antojitos. If you were to ask me what I think of when I think of Mexico, one of the first things I would say is ‘antojitos’. Antojitos means ‘little cravings’ and are the street foods of Mexico. Street foods in Mexico mostly include corn as their main ingredient. Here are just to name a few: tacos, tamales, memelas, gorditas, quesadillas, tortas, cemitas, chalupas, elotes, taquitos dorados, tostadas and molotes! Antojitos are sold EVERYWHERE, and I mean everywhere. You can always find something to eat in Mexico, day or night. You can’t go a block without antojitos being sold. And just because they are off the street doesn’t mean they are not safe to eat. I have never gotten food poisoning from street food, so don’t be scared to be adventurous. Try something new and be a real Mexican. Because real mexicans love their antojitos. Antojitos are sold by a lot of places during the day and generally close up shop by early evening, but at night a whole new set of vendors appear whether its in an actual building or being sold on the side of a street. I plan to make a lot of posts about different antojitos, so do not fret if you are puzzled as to what many of them are.

This post is about Molotes. Molotes are deep fried corn tortillas which have an oval shape. They are filled with the filling of your choice such as quesillo (my favourite) , mushrooms or many meat options. Aside: quesillo is a cheese from Oaxaca generally used in quesadillas and lots of antojitos. For vegetarians its a very tasty option. Anyway back to Molotes, once they are filled, they are deep fried, and served with salsa (rojo or verde) and sour cream. They are really really delicious- crunchy on the outside and the salsa and cream take it to the next level.

La Poblanita which is very well known in Puebla has been around for about 30 years. The weird thing is that they sell molotes throughout the day whereas usually molotes are mostly sold as a night street food. It’s cheating a bit eating them during the day, but they taste so good I don’t really care if it’s not the proper way! I guess eating a molote during the day is a bit like having a cappuccino after 11am in Italy.

Señoritas de la Poblanita

Here are some tips for ordering antojitos in Mexico:

  • Its not really in the mexican culture for them to ask you what you want to eat. To get the vendors attention you need to say either ‘señorita/señora’ for women and for men you say ‘joven’ which means young man (usually you will only find men selling tacos).
  • You should then ask for what you want and ask how much it costs (‘cuanto cuesta?’). A molote at La Poblanita costs about 16 pesos. If you want a soda with it I recommend Mexican Coca Cola (in the glass bottle). Mexican Coca-Cola is the best coke in the world so don’t pass up on the opportunity to try it. Often the soda will cost more than the antojito (usually 10-12 pesos). Its also absolutely fine to ask for whatever you want even if its not necessarily on the menu. For example if you want mushrooms and quesillo, then go for it. Mexicans are very accommodating. Same goes with if you don’t want the salsa (though I think that would be a fatal mistake).
  • At La Poblanita they will give you your antojito on a plate and along with everyone else you should stand and eat your food. This is very normal in Mexico. Even if there are no chairs, people will stand by the vendor and eat their food. There is often a little sideboard to place your dish on as you can see in the picture below. At night if you are driving around you will see people standing outside vendors eating, just like I have described.

Mexico is probably the best place in the world to eat after a night out or if you are craving a midnight snack.

  • Now if you want to be really Mexican here’s the way to do it: when you get your food or if there are people around you eating, you always say ” ¡Provecho! (short for buen provecho), and when you leave , if people are still eating then you also say ¡Provecho!

I have met a lot of foreigners in Puebla who are a bit wary of eating street food. Don’t be. It’s one of the things that makes Mexico so great.

¡Provecho!

Un Molote de Quesillo con Salsa Verde y Crema

PICA PICADITAS

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This is Picadita

A picadita is an antojito (see this previous post on antojitos/street food for all the information you need on them). They are made using a circle ofmasa which is then pinched all around its circumference, fried and topped with salsa (red or green as always, remember to ask which is spicier), and a variety of toppings such as cheese, chorizo/longaniza, chicharron, and papas if you so desire. More often served in the morning, picaditas are very tasty, and easily made at home. They can be bought before they are cooked (pinched and made into the correct shape) just the same way you can buy tortillas and memelas. Usually these are sold by indigenous women on streets, but can also be found in local tiendas (shops). In some neighbourhoods (colonias) they come selling door to door, so don’t pass up on this opportunity to try them!

Cost: approximately 6 pesos each for cooked ones, 2 pesos each for “raw” ones.

¡Provecho!

Dos picaditas por favor, una verde y una roja

Memela Compro, Memela Como

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This is Memela

A memela is an antojito (street food) from Oaxaca (pronounced Wahaca, which also happens to be the name of an excellent mexican restaurant chain in London). It is made, like many antojitos, from masa. Frijoles (refried beans) are added to the masa before it is flattened with a tortilla press and then cooked on a hot grill. Once the base, which is touching the grill, is cooked and charred, salsa (red or green is your choice) is smothered across it, to which usually crumbly cheese (I recommend to ask for quesillo which is oaxacan stringy cheese similar to mozzarella) is added. Additional toppings can also include avocado, papas fritas (fries), nopales (cactus) and/or chicharron. You can always order a dish however you want in Mexico, so if you want everything on your memela, or a different topping, don’t hesitate to ask for it (as long as they have the ingredients). The easiest way to eat it is by folding it in half and using your hands. As usual, it is best served with an ice cold glass bottled coca-cola. Like picaditas (see post here) they can also be bought ‘raw’ as discussed.

Cost: between 9-15 pesos.

¡Provecho!

Una memela roja por favor con puro quesillo, aguacate y papas fritas

 

The (Poblana) Cemita

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This is La Cemita

The Cemita has a lot of sandwich respect, not only in its hometown of Puebla, but also across Mexico and the entire world. Super foodies know about cemitas; as I discovered in an article entitled ‘iconic sandwiches in the world‘. Two of Mexico’s sandwiches are listed in the 27, and deservedly so. The other sandwich is called a Torta (but I will save that for another post). How do cemitas and tortas differ? Well the real difference is the bread. A cemita, which is also the name of the roll, is a brioche type bread with sesames on it.  The filling is usually refried beans, avocado, chipotle or some chiles if you like spiciness, quesillo (Oaxaca stringy cheese) and a meat, the most popular being milanesa (which is breadcrumbed beef). Cemitas are often served toasted, as I prefer, and are really sabrosa (tasty).  You can also buy the rolls on their own in markets, if you want to make them at home. These days cemitas are easily found across the states, so don’t worry if you are not planning a mexico trip soon. Though you might have to wait a bit longer if you are from the UK or Europe.

Cost: 20-25 pesos per filled cemita. For just the roll approximately 3 pesos.

 

¡Provecho!

Cut in half toasted cemita

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

Mercado 5 de Mayo / Mercado de la 18

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This is El Mercado

Welcome to one of Puebla’s markets, officially known as Mercado 5 de Mayo but most commonly known as el mercado de la 18. Both names are due, I presume, to 5 de Mayo being historically important to Puebla and its location on Avenida 18 Poniente.

The market, which is located near el centro historico is vast inside, and also has numerous stores, fishmongers and butchers surrounding its perimeter. You know you are nearly there as you begin to smell fish as you approach the area.

Outside the market

On the outside wall of the market, it is written ‘Mercados Poblanos – Lo Mero Nuestro‘ which translated means ‘our very own’. Really the expressions means that it is a place of pride, and its what they excel at (in this case being the markets of Puebla). And from what I saw the statement can not be argued with. Inside the market, and outside it too, is filled with hundreds of stalls divided up into sections of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables, fruit, flowers and that’s not all…

It’s not completely in the mexican culture to go to a supermarket though it is more and more part of daily life because of its convenience (a bit like supermarkets in France and Belgium where people like to buy their groceries from individual shops). It’s not easy to go to a market like this one which is in the historical centre. Saying that, if a mexican is making an important meal, or has the time and the means to go to a market then they will. The produce you find in markets, like this one, is impeccable. And its not only of high quality but cheaper too. Inside you will also find a lot of puestos (stands) selling prepared food , using produce from the market. Theres a few quirky things in the market as well like alive chickens for sale and one place selling stuff which I can only describe as witchcraft products…but I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions when you visit the place…

Pollos Hermanos

This is a mexican market, a poblano market. Don’t be fooled, if you expect to find a farmer’s market like the ones back home, that’s not what you’ll get. But what you get is something so much better; a place rich in character and personality which captivates the hustle and bustle of Mexico.

Be sure, you’ll be very hungry by the end of your visit.

¡Provecho!

frutas y frutas

Crabs and Crabs

El Mural de los Poblanos

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This is Chiles en Nogada

El Mural de los Poblanos is a high end restaurant located in the historical centre of Puebla. It serves traditional poblano dishes and prides itself on locally sourcing all ingredients. El Mural considers itself to serve the most authentic and best tasting food of Puebla. It is part of the Tesoros de Mexico, ‘a group of hotels and restaurants that have gone through a careful selection process and meet the highest quality standards’ . The restaurant is named after a mural which covers one of the walls inside, which depicts many famous poblanos (I have to admit I didn’t recognise a single one) . There is much that can be discussed regarding this restaurant, as the menu is vast and covers a huge number of dishes important to the city such as Mole and street foods such as Chalupas and Cemitas. However I prefer to look at one dish in particular, and save other dishes (at different restaurants) for other posts. For a more in depth review of the restaurant and all its dishes check out this great post by blogger Docsconz.

Inside the Restaurant

The dish is called Chiles en Nogada. If you have ever been to Puebla in the summer, you will know that around July something in the air changes. Suddenly from nowhere, posters and banners appear everywhereadvertising the dish. This is a poblano dish; authentic only to Puebla and only in season for the months of July, August and September.

So what are Chiles en Nogada? And why are they seasonal?

Chiles en Nogada are:

  • poblano chiles filled with picadillo (which are then dunked in egg batter and fried)
  • topped with a walnut based cream sauce (nogada)
  • and pomegranate seeds

Many of the ingredients of the picadillo are seasonal and unique to Puebla such as special fruits like manzana panochera and pera de leche, but in particular the nogada is seasonal and only available for these brief months. El Mural prides itself on using the correct ingredients bought only from the state of Puebla, for example they do not use regular apples which are more easily sourced and cheaper. They make sure that the Chile en Nogada is made as it should be, to the very last detail.

The three elements give the three colours of the Mexican flag: green (chile), white (nogado salsa) and red (pomegranates). This is no coincidence, as the dish is tied historically to the independence of Mexico. As it is said it was famously served to Agustín de Iturbide (a general during the mexican war of independence).

The dish is served at room temperature (usually a little bit warm on the inside) , and is very sweet due to the sauce. The centre, which is filled with picadillo, is a fruit, spice and meat mixture which contributes to the sweet taste. The inside can often be a bit spicy due to the pepper, a taste which really compliments the sweetness of the creamy sauce.

The three parts of Chiles en Nogada

he Nogada salsa being poured onto the Chile

Chile en Nogada

Chiles en Nogada are best served with a white wine or a sparkling white wine. Accompanied with the dish is always bread, which is very important because you use it to mop up the delicious sauce. The bread can be a bit of a deal breaker, if the bread is not up to scratch, then it can really let the dish down. You want to have a nice crispy bread like photographed below.

the ever important pan

So what makes El Mural de los Poblanos’ Chiles en Nogado so worth the visit? Well you can’t go wrong with any dish here – as a foreigner visiting Puebla, if you have a decent amount of money to spare, then this is the place to go because you know you are getting high quality cuisine which is truly poblano. And if you happen to be in season try the chiles! This is the real thing with every ingredient being directly sourced from local farmers.

If you want to make them at home here is a recipe though they say there are as many recipes for Chiles en Nogada as there are families in Mexico. An even better option is the cookery classes offered by the restaurant; if you are a keen chef or foodie check out more information on classes here.

Wherever you go in Puebla, don’t pass up on this very tasty poblano dish.

I will leave you with wise words, ‘Puebla is Mexico’s best kept secret’. No doubt about it; don’t pass up on visiting this magnificent city and all its delicious food.

¡Provecho!

Check out Soy Poblana’s facebook page for additional posts and information about life in Puebla and Mexico!

Taquitos de la Juarez

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This is Tacos de Asada

Best Tacos in Puebla?! Well I couldn’t possibly say that, as I haven’t tried all the tacos in Puebla. However these are UP THERE!  And no Mexican is going to disagree with that statement. Students of UPAEP, the University which it boarders, are probably its best customers and its biggest fans.

Taquitos de La Juarez, is an example of a Puesto. It is found, only in the evenings, right next to the very popular football pitch. If you go during the day, there is no sign of it whatsoever, but at night it appears from nowhere. This is why I consider eating tacos as a street food, a very evening affair, because many places like this one are only open at night, and their atmosphere fit with an evening mood. This place is popular throughout the evening, and even more so with drunken diners.

Taquitos de la Juarez

Tacos come in many form in Mexico, and generally a puesto will focus on one type (more posts to follow on other types). In this case they are tacos made with Carne Asada. Carne Asada are thin strips of beef which are marinaded and then grilled. They are DELICIOUS.  As I discussed in a previous post about antojitos (see post here), tacos are only ever made and sold by men. Being a taquero (the person who makes tacos) really is a man’s job.

This taqueria sells taquitos (which means little tacos).  A bit like eating off someone else’s plate, there is something a little less naughty about eating taquitos rather than tacos, though you’ll probably end up eating more than if they were bigger (but don’t worry you won’t feel guilty, because they are just that good!). These taquitos are served with onion, cilantro/coriander, and guacamole. You will be asked which of those you want, I recommend you ask for all of them.  Then help yourself to lemon (essential to making them taste like heaven) and salsa. I like the green one, which is quite spicy, so be careful how much you add.

The Best Kind of Mexican

You have got some choices, including, if you want just carne asada, or if you want Longaniza (which is like chorizo) or combinados (a mixture of both).  I recommend the first and third choice as the carne asada is just too good to pass up on. You always can add cheese, which they melt on the tortilla before they add the meat. Also very delicious, however not ascommon with locals. This is because the tortillas are corn, not flour, and usually you have cheese with flour tortillas. Flour tortillas are available too (tortilla de harina) but beware they are much bigger in size as they use Pan Arabe (again look out for a post coming soon about Tacos Arabes). These I would definitely recommend with cheese. You can also get the same meat options in a Cemita (see previous post here) which is a type of roll ( also delicious with cheese).  There are a couple other options but the ones I have mentioned are what I think you should go for. Basically you’re choosing what combination of meat/ tortilla you want.  Best served with a nice cold BOING (a fruit flavoured drink).

Dos Taquitos con Queso : uno de asada y uno combinado

Locations:

1. On Avenida Juarez between Los Remedios and KOI (the sushi restaurant).

2. At the cross section between Avenida 13 Poniente and 25 Sur (on the corner of the football pitch).

Please note both of these are very close to each other (less than 10 minutes walk).

Cost:

10 Pesos per Taquito (2 pesos extra for cheese).

20 Pesos for a Cemita.

All other prices are in the photo of the menu below.

¡Provecho!

Menu de Taquitos de la Juarez – with cheese or without?

Mexican Eggnog

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Courtesy of soypoblana.com (facebook.com/SoyPoblana)

This is Rompope

Rompope is an alcoholic beverage which was created in Puebla at the Convento de Santa Clara. It is an eggnog-like drink made from, not surprisingly, eggs, milk, vanilla flavouring and aguardiente. Additional ingredients can be added to create different flavours such as strawberry, cinnamon or coffee. Weirdly, no matter what flavour it is, the colour always ends up fluorescent (as seen in the picture below). Like the subjects of many of my previous posts, Rompope is very poblano, and is sold across the city and state. You can buy it easily wherever you go; for example in Cholula (see post here) and cantinas like La Pasita (see post here).

¡Salud!

Rompope Stall in Cholula

Best Rompope in the world’ available at La Pasita