One of the most important holidays in Mexico is almost here, Independence day, September the 16th. The celebrations start from the evening of September 15, what we call “the cry of Dolores”(el grito de Dolores); A re-creation of what the priest Miguel Hidalgo shouted to the people to invite them to take up arms against the Spainish regime.
In addition to this re-creation, done promptly at 11 pm on September 15, we also celebrate with something special: the food! In 2010 Mexican cuisine was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO making these dishes truly historical. Let us tell you the origin of these three dishes that are traditionally used to celebrate this holiday and will make your mouth water.
Chiles en Nogada
They say that when Agustin from Iturbide passed through Puebla after having signed the Treaty of Cordoba in 1821, ending the War of Independence, that the nuns of the Convent in Santa Monica wanted to honor him creating a dish that had the three flag colors worn by the army that he commanded (green, white and red). The Ancho chile for the green, the nut sauce, or nogada, made of walnuts representing white, and the red displayed by pomegranate. Now every time you taste this delicious dish you’ll be savoring the culinary creativity of the nuns from Puebla.
We are entering into dark territory now. Today this exquisite dish, made with white corn, chicken or pork, onion, lettuce, oregano, lemon and chili is a staple. You wonder where the “dark”could come from in this dish that is famous and has variants throughout Mexico? Well I’ll tell you; it’s name means “foam” in the original Nahuatl language spoken by the Mexica. It is named after the corn for the way it grows; It opens like a flower that then looks like foam. So far it sounds great! Initially it was prepared with chicken, not pork, (pork arrived with the spaniards)but even before that it was prepared with human flesh. Originally prisoners were sacrificed during a ceremony to offer to the god Xipe Totec and the remains were used in this dish. Eventually it was switched to xoloitzcuintle (a race of local dog) and then prepared with chicken or pork. Today it is a delight and is very commonly served at many celebrations.
This dish dates back even before colonial times! It is said that Sister Mary, in charge of the kitchen at the Convent of Santa Rosa in Puebla, prepared a succulent dish at the invitation of the Bishop viceroy of Spain. While preparing the dish she realized it tasted very spicy and could not be served as it was. In order to improve the taste she decided to add cinnamon, cloves, cocoa, almond, sesame and peanut, so it was less spicy. He was so impreseed by this dish that a kitchen was built in thanks to Sister Mary, covered with Talavera (traditional crafts of Puebla).
Now that you know the history of these plates you can try them all! And remember with each bite that you won’t just be tasting a world heritage dish, but will be experiencing the true history of Mexico.
Want to celebrate national holidays, fall, or other celebrations with us? Make a reservation now and try these dishes prepared by our Chef.
Written by Lizzy Santoyo, translated by Jessica Garcia