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The Soul of Mexico?


Hopleaf
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Thought this might be better suited for the Mexico forum than the Food Media forum if for only the need for more threads in here.

So, for those of you that have seen the May issue of Bon Appetite, what were your impressions of the Mexico coverage? The cover calls out "The Soul of Mexico" and I'm wondering if this issue really stays true to that or not.

Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful photos throughout the issue, and the detail on food (though predominantly in an introductory tone) is extensive. But does it really capture the soul of this country, albeit in the context of food? I've never been, so I guess I'm asking those of you who have traveled there.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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Hi there,

I did the digest for the "Soul of Mexico" and while I visited there some years ago, I can't really say if it captures the "soul". I understand what you're getting at, though. Thing is, with magazines, and other publications, I think there is a certain amount of romance (read: marketing) behind titles and descriptions. If they really wanted to capture the soul of Mexico and put it to print, they certainly wouldn't have room for all those ads. :wink:

Also, I think we have to look at the style of the publication. As an example, I would expect to find the "soul" of a country in older (1980s)Gourmet magazines, where the issues were quite dense with travel writing as well as food writing. When I look at Gourmet today, the focus is much more on recipes and the articles are much shorter. I think Bon Appétit is in that same market.

So it's probably safe to say that while Bon Appétit seems to have captured a wealth of authentic cooking info, they have likely fallen short in the "soul" category. But I too would like to hear from someone who did more that go to the beach on their visit. :laugh:

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So, we have the space (and time?) to capture it here. Let's discuss what unique qualities really give Mexican cuisine that special quality that separates it from others. Cultural, historical, gastronomic, political, the whole shebang.

Not having been to Mexico, this is what draws me to the cuisine: I see Mexico as a melting pot of sorts that has managed over the years to combine influences from Spain, Southwestern United States, Central America and it's own indigenous peoples. As for food, the obvious influence of what's locally available is there, but the thing that sets Mexico apart seems to be the way those ingredients are prepared. The molcajete is used abundantly to crush ingredients into signature picante and salsas. I'm not sure what they're called, but those stones used to crush corn into the paste they make tortillas from. (guajolote, step in here at any time and help me out with the specifics)

The local pottery is very cool. I think it says something (not sure exactly what) about their connection to their foods. Plus, I've seen Mexican influenced furniture that is rich with warm colors and natural materials.

I guess I was hoping that this thread might take off differently from the similar one in Food Media forum (the one that jersey13 started) in that it would discuss exactly what the soul of Mexico is.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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I see Mexico as a melting pot of sorts that has managed over the years to combine influences from Spain, Southwestern United States, Central America and it's own indigenous peoples.

Add France and Africa to the mix. I'm going to wait until I see the issue to comment more.

The thing used to grind corn (soaked in lime - the chemical, not the fruit) is called a metate. I've also seen it used to grind chilies, etc.

picture of metate

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I see Mexico as a melting pot of sorts that has managed over the years to combine influences from Spain, Southwestern United States, Central America and its own indigenous peoples.

Add France and Africa to the mix. I'm going to wait until I see the issue to comment more.

Me, too.

Hopleaf - don't get discouraged. I think this is an excellent topic and will spawn some marvelous discussion.

However, when I first read your intial post, I thought to myself that I needed to buy the magazine and read the article before commenting.

Which I plan to do either today or tomorrow.

Although I make no promises about being able to capture the "soul" of Mexico. It is so elusive.

For one thing, anyone interested in that aspect of the country should see Frida. The soul and spirit of Mexico is really what the movie's about. And although it is, as with all human endeavor, imperfect and incomplete, it still gives insight into the heart of that great land and its incomparable people.

Not to mention that it shows some really, really great food. :rolleyes:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Hopleaf: Would it be easier if I posted the Digest on this thread too?  Just to use as a reference?

I don't think that's necessary (though if you want to provide a quick link, go for it). I've read through that thread and it's a good one, though it focuses on the magazine aspect more than the Mexico aspect.

I have the magazine right here and have read through most of it. Jaymes, I'm not getting discouraged. if anything I think I realized that my initial post didn't do a very good job of stearing the discussion where I wanted it to go.

There's a magical quality to Mexico that other more modern cultures seem to have abandoned. I can't put my finger on it without coming across as a dreamy fool.

Frida, eh? I'll check it out when it comes on cable.

Guajolote, you can't leave us hanging with that France and Africa thing. Please explain. I mean, I figure there must be an influence, but in what way and to what degree? Don't remember seeing okra as a regular ingredient in Mexican fare. :biggrin:

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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I'll have to ask my wife about the Africa thing, she took a class in Michoacan about African influences in the area. One really interesting thing we saw was at a museum in Morelia which showed a chart which had what you would call people if they were: 1/4 African, 1/4 Spanish, 1/2 indiginous. It was quite incedible, they had different names for people down to 1/32 of their blood line. When I visited her there we saw numerous people with kinky black hair who obviously were part African. I'm no anthropologist but there must have been some culinary infuences?

Maximillian of France was Emporer of Mexico for a short time. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican army's defeat of the French in Puebla.

I neglected to talk about the Germans, who created many of the breweries in Mexico (and brought the accordian, which is prominently featured in Norteno polka songs). A major beer in Mexico is Bohemia, and Negra Modelo is one of the few Viennese lagers in the world which is still being made.

I'll try to do some more research on this.

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if anything I think I realized that my initial post didn't do a very good job of stearing the discussion where I wanted it to go.

There's a magical quality to Mexico that other more modern cultures seem to have abandoned. I can't put my finger on it without coming across as a dreamy fool.

I understood just exactly what you meant. And it's something I've contemplated myself for years.

I think that it has to do with the spirituality of the inhabitants. It seems to me that whenever you are in a location where the people place a high value on the spiritual world - however they perceive it - it affects the overall culture.

I believe, for example, that New Orleans also has a high measure of that ephemeral and impossible to define quality; as do Sedona, AZ, and Southeast Alaska - to name a few. I've never been to India, nor to Egypt - but think they might as well, although the Egyptians do not seem to have as much of their spirituality wrapped up in food - as do the Indians, and the Mexicans.

The Mexican people have an intimate and ancient relationship with the gods, the rituals, the physical elements of wind and rain and fire, the earthquakes and volcanos, the mysteries of things like corn that grow from the earth...

Anyway - just speculating here. Will read the piece and get back.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Jaymes (and others) may recall hearing this story before:

It started again last night. It is warm. Daylight goes later. My next door neighbors are immigrants (2 years ago) from Mexico (can't remember where). In the afternoon, a dead pig arrives; it is butchered. Some goes into a huge copper vat over a propane burner outside. Some goes inside for carnitas. Some goes for soup for "the morning after." People arrive. Moms, dads, kids, teens, babes in arms, grandmas, grandpas. The band.

They party long into the night, eating and drinking. Sleeping babies are passed back and forth. As the night progresses, the young kids fall asleep in laps and are gently laid onto blankets.

They invite us over. I show up with stuff like larp and a great Thai squid salad (hotter than hell) and rhubarb pie and a melon and some ice cream. We can't speak spanish, and most of them (except the kids) don't speak much english (at least we adults are on an equal language footing). But no matter, we know what the other is saying. There is a kindness to my daughter Heidi (the one with disabilities) that one does not often find in a large group of strangers -- they call her "little blue eyed queen" according to one of the teens. Blonde, blue-eyed 7-year old Peter is the darling of the grandmas; by the end of the evening, he proclaims that his head has been over-patted. Diana pals around with the pre-teens, climbing trees, acting cool.

Our neighbors would not think of not inviting us, and their friends and families would not think of not welcoming us. We eat, drink, "talk," dance and sing. We stagger home with sleeping kids in arms.

The next morning, I hop over the fence to help clean up. Out pops Cruz with a plate of warm tortillas, leftover carnitas, salsa and scrambled eggs (and firey salsa).

To return this to food. Pork (carnitas, fried, rinds, fried liver). Homemade tortillas. Rice (not plain white rice; what I call embellished rice), pico, "fried" salsa, fruit. Plus my offerings (which are always well received; warm tortilla with squid/bird chili/cilantro/lime juice salad is a good thing -- fusion?).

Lotsa beer. Tequilla shots as the kids start to nod off.

As I read the bon appetit article, I wish they had mentioned gatherings like this, unless, perhaps said gatherings only occur in North Minneapolis?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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It started again last night.  It is warm.  Daylight goes later.  My next door neighbors are immigrants (2 years ago) from Mexico (can't remember where).  In the afternoon, a dead pig arrives; it is butchered.  Some goes into a huge copper vat over a propane burner outside.  Some goes inside for carnitas.  Some goes for soup for "the morning after."  People arrive.  Moms, dads, kids, teens, babes in arms, grandmas, grandpas.  The band.

I absolutely love these posts about your neighbors. How fortunate you are to have them.

The Mexican families I have known are all very social. You're right - Bon Appetit would have done very well indeed to have included some information about the many family fiestas. They throw large celebrations for virtually every event. When my daughter was 15, she was invited to be one of the 15 attendants (and the only "white girl," as they called her) at a girlfriend's quinciñera. First, my daughter had to go for fittings for her dress; then to about two month's worth of Saturday afternoon rehearsals for the several dance numbers performed by the attendants (15 girls and 15 boys).

Oh my what a party that turned out to be!

Thanks, Snowangel, for your continuing delightful updates on your neighbors.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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  • 1 month later...
Thanks, Snowangel, for your continuing delightful updates on your neighbors.

I am almost in tears. The "for sale" sign went up today in their yard. They want a little bigger, closer to where he works, and closer to the larger Hispanic community in St. Paul.

They have, however, priced their house on the high side, so hopefully, this summer will be punctuated by many more endearing stories.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Thanks, Snowangel, for your continuing delightful updates on your neighbors.

I am almost in tears. The "for sale" sign went up today in their yard. They want a little bigger, closer to where he works, and closer to the larger Hispanic community in St. Paul.

There is only one solution.

You must go with them.

Yes, it seems a little drastic now but for the good of us all, you must do it.

It's the only way.

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I agree with Jaymes. Hell, I'll even pitch in for your moving costs Snowangel. At the very least, you must stay in touch with them.

On the otherhand, what're you worried about, isn't this your second set of wonderful Mexican neighbors? Three's a charm, right?

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I'm a newcomer to e-Gullet, and should probably lay a bit low for awhile, but the Soul of Mexico questions has me taking a swig from my tin of Brasso, and winding up for the pitch. Traditional, regional Mexican food, and the pre-conquest cuisines of that country are a great passion of mine. In the last couple of years I have been specifically studying the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala, which were, to my great surprise, mentioned in the article. Apparently they are being "discovered" now that Mx City is getting rather scary for those whose idea of living dangerously is being processed sous-vide and toured through a region in a great, diesel belching, peanut & panque (poundcake) dispensing tourist bus.

Yes, the chiles en nogada are good at the Fonda Sta Clara, but the memelas and huaraches made by the indigena and her son, standing under a tree across from the Transit Authority bus station in Puebla are a two peso ticket to the gastronome's heaven. Made of corn masa, beans, and glossed with chile and squash blossoms, the only whiff of Europe lies in the stringy, white queso quesillo placed on the quesadilla before it is folded over. This is old food, ancient food, soul food. And while she transacts business iwith drooling customers in rickety Spanish, she and her son speak to each other in Nahuatl. THIS is the still beating heart and living soul of Mexico - and it can be found all over the place ...but not at the breakfast buffet - lovely though it is - laid out at the Camino Real Puebla.

The Bon Appetit mag article was a gorgeous piece of photography - yes, Mexico is at least that beautiful - more so, actually. But this was a sanitized version. Written by people of the 'burbs for people of the 'burbs, but here and there lay kernels of truth. Mostly, though, at least to me, it was a joke.

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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Well, I'm a newcomer to e-Gullet, and should probably lay a bit low for awhile, but the Soul of Mexico questions has me taking a swig from my tin of Brasso, and winding up for the pitch.  Traditional, regional Mexican food, and the pre-conquest cuisines of that country are a great passion of mine.  In the last couple of years I have been specifically studying the states of Puebla and Tlaxcala, which were, to my great surprise, mentioned in the article.  Apparently they are being "discovered" now that Mx City is getting rather scary for those whose idea of living dangerously is being processed sous-vide and toured through a region in a great, diesel belching, peanut & panque (poundcake) dispensing tourist bus.

Yes, the chiles en nogada are good at the Fonda Sta Clara, but the memelas and huaraches made by the indigena and her son, standing under a tree across from the Transit Authority bus station in Puebla are a two peso ticket to the gastronome's heaven.  Made of corn masa, beans, and glossed with chile and squash blossoms, the only whiff of Europe lies in the stringy, white queso quesillo placed on the quesadilla before it is folded over.  This is old food, ancient food, soul food.  And while she transacts business iwith drooling customers in rickety Spanish, she and her son speak to each other in Nahuatl.  THIS is the still beating heart and living soul of Mexico - and it can be found all over the place ...but not at the breakfast buffet - lovely though it is - laid out at the Camino Real Puebla.

The Bon Appetit mag article was a gorgeous piece of photography - yes, Mexico is at least that beautiful - more so, actually.  But this was a sanitized version.  Written by people of the 'burbs for people of the 'burbs, but here and there lay kernels of truth.  Mostly, though, at least to me, it was a joke.

Theabroma

WOW!!

That's one helluva first post, theabroma! Welcome and keep posting. And do tell us more about Mexico.

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut." -Ernest Hemingway

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  • 3 weeks later...
I agree with Jaymes. Hell, I'll even pitch in for your moving costs Snowangel. At the very least, you must stay in touch with them.

On the otherhand, what're you worried about, isn't this your second set of wonderful Mexican neighbors? Three's a charm, right?

My neighbors have not sold their house. It's overpriced, and they are re-thinking the move. They like their neighbors :biggrin:

Tonight was another night. They grilled t-bones (black and blue, sliced after grilling), had home-made tortillas, all of the accompaniments, including people of all ages, lots of beer, "Mexican Polka" music. The kids are still running around, oblivious to the bugs. I'm inside getting Heidi to sleep, then back out. The women are all fawning over blonde, blue-eyed, charming Peter.

Sensing a party, I made a couple of peach/blueberry pies (it was what I had) this afternoon and brought a watermelon.

They have one question, which I did understand through their very broken English, and my very broken Spanish, as translated by an 8-year old boy -- "what is this lite beer? Why lite beer? Why Americans like this not regular beer?" I didn't have an answer, having never drank lite beer.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I'm not a huge fan of Bon Appetit, but I did buy this issue off the rack. It wasn't nearly as eloquent as some of the posts in this thread, but at least there's an acknowledgement of the strong regionalism in the country, and they actually went to the mercados and whatnot. It wasn't that long ago that magazine coverage of Mexican food would have been fajitas, margaritas and flan, written from a NY or LA apartment.

As far as the *soul* of Mexico, people would do better to read this thread. Jaymes, theabroma and snowangel's posts made me wish I grew up in Puebla instead of Hawaii, (which ain't too bad of a place either <grin>).

Additionally, I don't think I would move away from neighbors who would bring peach/blueberry pie, rhubarb pie, or Thai squid salad to an impromptu potluck either.

~Tad

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Susan, you don't know it...but maybe then, you do...

but to some you are the most enviable person on this board...

:laugh:

Here's hoping you keep your neighbors (and your COOL!)!!!

:cool:

...I thought I had an appetite for destruction but all I wanted was a club sandwich.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I'll have to ask my wife about the Africa thing, she took a class in Michoacan about African influences in the area. One really interesting thing we saw was at a museum in Morelia which showed a chart which had what you would call people if they were: 1/4 African, 1/4 Spanish, 1/2 indiginous. It was quite incedible, they had different names for people down to 1/32 of their blood line. When I visited her there we saw numerous people with kinky black hair who obviously were part African. I'm no anthropologist but there must have been some culinary infuences?

Maximillian of France was Emporer of Mexico for a short time. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican army's defeat of the French in Puebla.

I neglected to talk about the Germans, who created many of the breweries in Mexico (and brought the accordian, which is prominently featured in Norteno polka songs). A major beer in Mexico is Bohemia, and Negra Modelo is one of the few Viennese lagers in the world which is still being made.

I'll try to do some more research on this.

I'm sorry that this thread has, it seems, taken a rather long siesta. Let's see if we can wake it up. In response to Guajolote's comment, yes there are culinary influences. The one's I'm most familiar with are in the eastern coastal state of Veracruz, and on the Texas border in Coahuila. Raquel Torres Cerdan, trained as an anthropologist, and duena of El Churreria del Recuerdo in Jalapa, Veracruz, has written about the afro-mestizo influences in the coastal kitchen. I have a couple of them (it will take me a day or so to excavate them, but will do so to provide title, etc.). The other book is about the Mascogo in Coahuila - these are the communities of Afro-Seminoles who fled Florida, or came to Texas as Buffalo Soldiers, and slipped on across the border into Mexico. I have seen a old photo of one of the villages where the women are making processing nixtamal into masa not by grinding it on a metate with a metlapil, but pounding it with a giant tree-trunk pestle in the hollow of a tree stump - African style.

Other influences on the Mexican table are the Lebanese (tacos al pastor, as one moves toward the Yucatan (where there is a very large, old community of Lebanese; in fact, Salma Hayek is Lebanese from, I believe, Veracruz; are called tacos arabe!) French - in Morelia and Puebla especially, German, oh! in those wonderful beers. Mennonite - in Chihuahua. This is where the famous queso Chihuahua - so criminally subbed out by anaemic, rubbery Jack cheese in the US - is called, in Chihiuahua, queso Menonita.

There are, sadly, some American influences which I, personally, fervently wish would just go away: yellow cheese, hot dogs, etc. pop up as street food. (Last Sept I was in the Plaza Mayor in Mx City for the reading of the Grito by Pres Fox for the Diesiseis - the Plaza was ringed with food stalls selling heavenly, ancient things. There were some stands which were selling hot dogs - w/French's mustard, sweet pickle relish, and chopped onions, and other selling pancakes w/maple syrup! On this particular evening, at this particular celebration, I was struck by that. They were wedged in between two atole vendors. Maybe it's just a flaw in my wiring, but I found that really fascinating.)

There are some influences on the western coast that could possibly be traced to the Philippines and the Far East, going all the way back to the trade routes of the Acapulco galleons.

Perhaps one of the largest influences on regional cuisines of Mexico is the migration of groups within the country. Like the sister-in-law who was one of a pair of cooks in a small family restaurant 30 kilometers outside Vallarta near the Punta de Mita. Her Oaxacan roots braided themselves throughout the coastal, traditional foods of that restaurant (venison and iguana were the "meat and potatoes" of the menu, the rest of the protein sources were not for the faint of heart, but they were delicious!

When you think of the veritable tsunami of ingredients and cuisines that have slammed onto the shores of Mexican kitchens since the Conquest, it really should fill one with awe that despite incorporating these ingredients and seeds of alien cultures into their own, and typically not by choice since the indigenous populations of Mexico wound up largely wound up serving rather than being served, as did a majority of their mestizo children, 'lo mexicano' is still there, vibrant, loud, and clearly identifiable in the nations' table. Perhaps we would do well to also muse about the influences of the cuisines of Mexico on our own here in the US: after all, it was some time ago that salsa picante surpassed ketchup as the number one condiment.

Sorry this is such a long post and ramble - I am hoping that you all will kick in with something. There is much to be learned and debated about Mexico.

Abrazos para todos,

Theabroma

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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  • 4 weeks later...

thea, i am really mesmerized by your posts. sorry it took me so long to find them. i especially like reading about the memela and huarache lady in puebla. so true. IMO the greatest hindrance to norteamericanos diving right in to the local cuisines is fear of getting sick. my husband won't eat a tlayuda from a street vendor if you put a gun to his head. [really]. the cocineras selling tamales and ensalada de nopales in market corners or on sidewalks have prepared the food in their own kitchens.

reading your posts is making me hungry and sad.

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I'm sorry that this thread has, it seems, taken a rather long siesta.  Let's see if we can wake it up. 

Abrazos para todos,

Theabroma

What a great post. Thanks for taking the time to share that wonderful information.

I am planning on driving to Mexico for a couple of weeks this January with some girlfriends - StellaBella, HelenaS, Vanessa. We're going to enter at Nuevo Laredo, and head for the hills. Guanajuato (where we're hooking up with Caroline), Zacatecas, SMA, Queretaro.

Any advice?

Actually, I think I'll start a thread about it right now, and I sure hope you contribute!

Oh, and abrazos back atcha. :biggrin:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I am planning on driving to Mexico for a couple of weeks this January with some girlfriends - StellaBella, HelenaS, Vanessa. We're going to enter at Nuevo Laredo, and head for the hills. Guanajuato (where we're hooking up with Caroline), Zacatecas, SMA, Queretaro

Hey! I'll be leaving in early October for Veracruz - going on a mushroom foray. And I want to drag it on through Dia de los Muertos in Tlaxcala or Puebla. And I'm thinking of driving. I may just try to see how long I can stay!. It's been a long time since I've driven through the Bajio, so I don't know what to say. Definitely stop in San Luis Potosi and environs.

Leon in Gto is the leather and shoe capital. Got the ganas for some boots or, heaven forfend, alligator shoes or belts 'n' bags? That's your place. Dolores Hidalgo has some talavera, but you should really get to Puebla for that (check out Talavera Uriarte). I have always played crack the whip around Monterrey - I take the bypass road, go through Saltillo, and on to Zac.

I found I could drive from the border (8-9 am) and make it to Zac by about 5). Don't miss Nochebuena - a road sign, a Pemex, and a cafe/roadhouse that's round, pained in glass squares, and the interior decor is courtesy of a living, captive rubber tree that is the biggest dammed thing your have ever seen! It is a royal hoot. Also, a visit to Celaya, home of cajeta, is in order.

Zac is exquisite. I stayed at the Posada de la Moneda, and I think I can still tell you how to get to the parking garage on the other side of the plaza. There is a Helados Bing on the corner - have a double of the cajeta ice cream as long as someone is with you to put you on a leash and keep you from ordering the whole bucket- and shop in the former governor's palace catty cornered across from the hotel. There is a cafe upstairs, and a restaurant in the basement. Very elegant. This tweedy looking hornrim sporting, Casper Milquetoast (made from Pan Bimbo, natch) professor-type looking man always comes in for dinner, carrying a briefcase. He sits at the piano, opens the bcase, extracts sheet music, and with great ceremony gets himself set up to play. His ritual gives every assurance that Artur Schnabel will soon be spinning in his grave. The gentleman plays like Anna Russell sings. Only, he's serious. Be prepared to stuff your snowy starched, bedsheet sized napkin in your mouth to keep hysterical laughter to a minimum. By the way, the food is wonderful.

The Colonel museum is also there in his home, and definitely worth a visit. Fabulous collection of indigenous ceremonial masques, and a collection of Chagall's that will shock you senseless. The day I was there, the guard engaged me in a lively, though very learned, discourse about Chagall and the influences on his art. Amazing. But, hey, that's Mexico. That's why I lost my heart and soul to it.

The countryside is gorgeous, and you will find lots, and lots of little places to stop and visit the markets, archaelogical sites, etc. There is (was?, hope not!) a greek owned/run coffee shop down the street from the hotel. Complete with paintings of local buildings done in coffee grounds on saucers. It is old, was very, very rich, and the architecture is fabulous. At the time I was there it was not overrun w/norteamericanos.

Go ... and just keep going! If I take my car, and last that long down there, then we need to see if the pianiste is still there.

Sharon Peters aka "theabroma"

The lunatics have overtaken the asylum

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I actually put that edition of Bon Appetit on my shelf to save for my next visit. Its "Travelling with Taste: Mexico City" article was excellent. They had several very good recommendations and clearly explained which were more Mexican comfort food and which were more upscale. They also had an excellent suggestion in the Puerto Vallarta restaurants. Based on that, I'll definitely be checking their suggestions in other towns on next visit.

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