This is the third in a series of posts about my recent trip to Mexico. The first week was spent at a yoga camp with some girlfriends and another ten days was spent traveling with my sister in and around Mexico City. Catching up, slowing down, cultural immersion, and time in the sun all proved long overdue and much needed. It goes without saying that food was a big part of the travels, too…
Puebla is about an hour and a half southeast of Mexico City, but seems to be off the beaten path of many travellers. The fifth larest city in Mexico, with 7 million residents, Puebla is indeed a major commerce hub, although you would never know it once you are in the Centro Historico. Founded in the early colonial era, it is one of the few cities in Mexico not built on an existing native community. Its beautifully preserved downtown features early colonial architecure in all its glory, and cialis generique has been designated a world heritage site by the United Nations. Ornate churches, palaces and ex-convents are all throughout the Centro Historico, many adorned with Puebla’s distinct signature, Talavera tile. It also has the prettiest zocalo of any of the towns I visited in Mexico.
I haven’t even gotten to the food…oh the food! Puebla is a culinary hub and the birthplace of mole. The signature of the region is Mole Poblano, which is made from a base of dried chilis, nuts, herbs, cinnamon and chocolate. Pipián Verde and Pipián Rojo, which have a bit cleaner flavor are made with a base of tomatillos or tomatoes, respectively, onion, fresh chilis, pumpkin seeds and bread. Then there are the robustly flavored Mancha manteles (which is actually Oaxacan in origin, and contains fruit, such as pineapple), and Adobo, which commonly contains orange juice and Achiote paste (also called annatto). Let us not forget that more stew-like incarnations like Mole de Panza (menudo) and Mole de Olla (deep meaty broth fortified with herbs, chilis and cactus or tomatillos and served with fresh vegetables) can all be found here, among others. It is an absolute joy to walk through the markets and see and smell the moles simmering away in huge cazuelas, the traditional earthenware cookware with handles. It is truly a feast for the senses.
So the moles are one thing… but we must not forget the cemitas. Cemitas are tortas, or sandwiches, which are served on an sesame bun and piled high with carnitas, quesillo (string cheese) salsa rosa, avocados, onions and an herb called pápalo. Unfortunately I don’t have photos of a cemita because we ate it before it was captured! Ha, typical. Palenquetas, pozole and tamales were all part of our rounds.
Like many towns in Mexico, Puebla has a craft for which it is known…Talavera tile. Talvera pottery can only come from Puebla or a few neighboring towns, because of a specific type of clay found here. Traditional production methods go back to the 16th century, when the craft was originally brought here by the Spanish. This pottery has been woven into the fabric of daily life, appearing on building facades, in market stalls, and on the tables in many restaurants.
One of my favorite things to do when visiting a new city it to set out for a long walk with a relatively far away destination and no plan, stopping anywhere that looks interesting. The images below are from our walks.
One fantastic side trip from Puebla that I highly recommend is Cantona. Cantona is a Mesoamerican archaeological site about 2 hours from Puebla. It has only been about 10% excavated, which is a mind bending statistic once you are there, given it’s size. It is unique in that there is no mortar used in the construction. It also must be stated that we were one of about three groups visiting the entire site, which made it that much more surreal and breathtaking. I also thought that the dichotomy between the bus station we left from and the one we arrived into was worth documenting. More to come next week, if you’ve made it this far, I owe you a “thank you” !