Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Celebration in Mexico

We just returned from one of the best experiences we've ever had in a foreign country and I had to share some of the culinary discoveries we made. We visited Guadalajara, Mexico City, Acapulco and Taxco in Mexico.

Just feast your eyes on the display of fresh fruit in the picture! This picture was taken on a narrow street in the colonial silver mining town of Taxco in the mountains of Mexico, where the native farmers set up their colorful displays of home-grown fruits and vegetables along side hand-made crafts. It's customary for the vendors to offer their fruits for tasting before purchase, and we enjoyed tasting sun-kissed fruits that were new to us.

In Mexico City, we visited the large and bustling market where everyone was friendly and helpful....and the displays of produce, cheeses, breads, and fresh meat and seafood were dazzling. Although I wasn't there to purchase, the vendors seemed delighted to introduce me to new tastes and to pose for pictures. The language of food (and sales) is global!

While we were traveling, we tried to eat as many dishes as possible that were typical of the areas where we were. The food was fabulous and nothing like what we find in our local Mexican restaurants in Lancaster County. We had oysters on the half shell that were as large as dinner plates, tender and so sweet! Tortas Ahogadas (drowned pork sandwiches) were one of my favorite fast food items, and a late night visit to a taco stand introduced us to delicious soft corn tortillas topped with savory meat, beans and cheese. Poblanos stuffed with a sweet and savory pork mixture, topped with a creamy walnut sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds was one of the most beautiful and delicious dishes we had. The waiters were so helpful; many spoke English and those who didn't were patient with my broken Spanish.

We were introduced to "tequila completo" in the Mexican state of Jalisco, a tradition of sipping smooth premium tequila alternately with the tomato-citrus beverage called Sangrita. This was so delicious that I wonder why that tradition hasn't followed migrants across the border into our area! The non-alcoholic Sangrita is so healthful that I made some when we got back home and even my 2-year old granddaughter loves it!

Mexico is a country filled with history, natural beauty, and friendly people. With a government filled with corruption, no social "safety nets" for the poor or disabled, high unemployment and extremely low wages, there is a huge chasm between the classes. As industry moves south of our border, however, the middle class is growing and there is hope for many. What an educational experience this visit was for us and also served to remind us of all that the American people have to be grateful for here in the United States.

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