Puebla is one of the most representative destinations within the traditional part of Mexico. This is evident in its colonial architecture, decorated with unique pieces of "talavera" pottery. The cuisine is equally enchanting and wins the hearts of the visitors, captivating them.
Puebla's food is much more than only some typical dishes. It is the result of a mixture of pre- Hispanic and Spanish food, which gives the dishes their colors, aromas, tastes and textures, all of which blend in with each creation. There are also influences from French and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well.
The tasty merge of the ingredients and culinary techniques was born in the ovens and on the burners of the convents, and in Creole and Mestizo homes in Puebla. It was there, in those temples of taste, where women from Puebla mixed local ingredients from the region, such as corn, chili, beans, tomato, and turkey. These were used with ingredients from overseas, such as olive oil, onion and garlic, among other things. For the preparation, they used some cooking utensils such as: clay pots, "metates" and wooden spoons that were very different from those that could be found in the rest of the country.
The famous "mole poblano" was born because of the creativity of the Dominican nuns in the Santa Rosa Convent in the 17th century. It is made of more than 2 dozen of ingredients which include a great variety of chilies, chicken or turkey meat, almonds, chocolate, sesame seed, cinnamon, garlic, just to mention a few items. This is one of the most representative dishes of Mexican cuisine and one that has reached international fame.
"Chiles en Nogada" is another typical delicacy, normally prepared in the months of August and September. They are green chilies stuffed with ground beef, prepared with peaches, pine nuts, apples, and topped with walnut sauce, which is called "nogada". They are sprinkled with pomegranate seeds and garnished with parsley. The origin of this dish goes back to days of the Mexican Independence. It was originally created by the nuns from the Santa Monica Convent, to honor the recently proclaimed Mexican Emperor, Agustin de Iturbide.
Another delicious dish that Puebla offers is "chalupas", made of corn tortillas, fried in pork fat, garnished with pulled meat and onions, covered with green or red sauce and sprinkled with white cheese. You can find this delicious dish either in very simple street locales or in extremely elegant restaurants. However, the ideal place to try them is in "El Paseo de San Francisco", which is located in downtown.
Another traditional dish that I recommend is the "cemitas", especially in the Del Carmen Market. It is basically a Mexican sandwich or a "torta" but the special characteristic is the bread, which is white, crunchy and is garnished with sesame seeds. The sandwich filling can be chicken fried steak, ham, spicy meat or pork leg meat as the main ingredient. It can also have cheese, avocado, onion, chipotle chilis, and papalo, which is a kind of herb typical of Mexico that has very peculiar taste and smell. The local cuisine also offers a very well-known dish called "Tacos Arabes", an influence from Middle Eastern cuisine. It is made with flour tortillas, simulating Arabian bread, and lightly grilled pork meat.
The list goes on and on, with red or green "pipian", "crema poblana", "molotes", "pambazos", "quesadillas", "tamales", "tlacoyos", "tostadas", "mole de olla", "memelas", "enchiladas", "rajas poblanas", "cecina", "mixtotes", "huauzontles" and "escamoles". This is only to mention some of the many delicacies from Puebla, a long and extensive list of delicious typical dishes.
Apart from the food and snacks, candies have a very special place in the gastronomy of Puebla, some of those which stand out are the "camotes" (mashed sweetened tuber of different flavors), "jamoncillos" (bricks of finely ground nuts or squash seeds, sweetened), "bunuelos" (fried flour squares served with Mexican molasses or sugar), "alfajores" (traditionally a Spanish sweet, with goat's milk toffee sandwiched between two corn starch cookies), "polvorones" (cookies), "cicadas", "turrones" (a Spanish sweet made of ground almonds), "mueganos" (cookies that are either round or square and aren't too sweet), "macarrones" (macaroons), "borrachitos" (literally "little drunks", these are gummy candies spiked with alcohol), "garapinados" (any variety of nuts that are candy-covered with a delicious molasses mix) and the unequalled "tortitas de Santa Clara", which are cookies that have a frosted center. All these delicious candies were created by the nuns from some of the colonial convents of the area, such as: Santa Rosa, Santa Clara, Santa Monica y Santa Teresa. They were well known for their culinary prowess at the time.
Without a doubt, being in Puebla is not only to witness a city full of culture and history, but it also means to try incomparable tastes with an infinite menu of options, where you will always have something different and delicious to try. Enjoy your meal!
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Cuisine from Puebla: A Delight for Your Taste Buds
- Rubén García