Wordless Wednesday: Dulces

José returned this past Sunday from his trip to Mexico City for Semana Santa. Among the presents he brought home for me… ¡Dulces! In pretty much any taquería in Mexico, you’ll get some kind of candies delivered with your check. Some of my favorites include the dulces de tamarindo (tamarind and chile-flavored candy) and the paletas picosas (spicy and sweet lollipops) pictured above from El Charco de Las Ranas, El Califa and El Fogoncito.

  • What’s your favorite candy when you visit a taquería?

Cuaresma means Lent

I’ve been meaning to write here since Ash Wednesday, which begins the Catholic season of Cuaresma, or Lent. For the non-Catholics visiting who need a primer, Lent lasts for 40 days beginning Ash Wednesday and ending Easter Sunday. And if you’re doing a little math in your head right now and have figured out that there are actually 46 days, here’s why we say Lent is only 40 days: Sundays don’t count according to the church’s calendar.

In Mexico, as well as in many other countries, it’s common for Catholics to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays throughout Lent, though some observe meatless Fridays year-round. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also supposed to be fasting days, during which Catholic adults eat only one full meal. Though, depending on who you ask, you might find some who fast on all Fridays during Lent. You may also be familiar with the practice of Catholics giving things up for Lent – and perhaps you’ve wondered what that’s all about. Fasting and giving up vices during Lent are a way for Catholics to connect to Jesus, making a sacrifice that is supposed to help us understand his suffering. Ideally, we aren’t just giving up sin during Lent, but abstaining from sin after Lent as well. For example, giving up your favorite dulces (a particularly popular item for children to give up) but then going back to eating them after Lent is over is not really how it’s supposed to work…. 

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Wordless Wednesday: Garabatos

We’ve been talking a lot about guilty pleasures since last week and there have been many great answers about your favorite Mexican guilty pleasures in the comments, on our Facebook fan page and sent to me on Twitter.

But one that nobody has mentioned and I feel is extremely worthy of the title is a little cookie called the garabato. So please forgive me, but we’re about to get a little wordy this Wordless Wednesday because these galletas are worth knowing more about!

They’re made with two shortbread cookies, a smooth dark chocolate fudge center and drizzled with dark chocolate. Paired with a café con leche, it’s like pure cookie bliss. And they come in two sizes, mini and regular. Or, as I like to say: naughty and extra naughty. Why? Because I’m certain these cookies are loaded with butter and sugar, which is why they are such a delicious temptation to begin with. I may actually attempt making them in the Tortilla Test Kitchen later this year – there’s only so long I can go with a craving before I must satisfy it, even if it means experimenting in the kitchen!

The establishment that sells these amazing little treats is, appropriately, called Garabatos, and besides having an array of artisan pastries (I’m also a big fan of the dedo de novia, a tube-shaped sort of baklava) they also have a cafe menu with typical botanas, sandwiches, salads and the like.

On our last trip to Mexico, José was craving garabatos before he even arrived. Since I got there a few days in advance, I picked up a small box with a dozen mini garabatos just for him. I’m not going to incriminate myself here and tell you how many trips we made to Garabatos over the few weeks we were visiting, but let’s just say we had our fair share. On the day we headed back home to Chicago, I found a Garabatos in the airport and I had to have one last fix. As you can see from the photo, I couldn’t even wait to photograph my treat before taking the first (er, and second) bite.

  • Have you had garabatos?

Wordless Wednesday: The Best Carnitas in Mexico

When I dream about carnitas – and yes, I do dream about carnitas – this is the place where I’m always eating. This little hole in the wall has the best carnitas in Mexico City, if not in the entire country, according to José.

I’m not about to challenge his ruling (after all, he is the king of carnitas), and though I’ve not eaten them in every state yet, I will say that Rincón Tarasco has the best carnitas I’ve ever eaten in my life.

Be sure to get there plenty early, though, or else risk them having nothing left but riñones. They’re only open until they sell out of everything and then they close to prepare for the next day all over again.

Those truly dedicated to their carnitas know to show up around 10 a.m. to have the best pick of available meat. They’re closed on Tuesdays.

VISIT RINCÓN TARASCO:

Av. Martí No. 142 K
Col. Escandón
Distrito Federal, México

  • Where is your favorite place in Mexico to eat carnitas?

Wordless Wednesday: Xochimilco

I love this photo that my dear friend, Ana Flores, took of me capturing memories of Xochimilco with my little point and shoot camera on my most recent trip to Mexico City in December 2010. I had so much fun spending the day with Ana and her family while we floated down the canals listening to live mariachi music, eating botanitas, drinking refrescos and enjoying the scenery.

I’m working on editing some video footage into a short film to share with you soon about what it’s like to visit these ancient waterways that were once very important to Mexico City’s agricultural transport system. I can’t wait to share it because it brings back such wonderful, warm memories of Mexico City for me. There’s nothing like sharing these cultural traditions with the people you love.

  • Have you been to Xochimilco or are you hoping to go someday? Tell us what you know about it, or what you’d like to know about it!

GARIBALDI

By now, you all know about my deeply rooted love for pan dulce, especially for a particular chochito-covered panque from El Globo called el garibaldi. In fact, El Globo is credited as the original maker of garibaldi, a little pound cake bathed in apricot jam and covered in white nonpareils. Many bakeries in Mexico try to emulate these little magical cakes, but nobody makes them quite like El Globo.

During our trips to Mexico City, we’ve always purchased them fresh to eat for breakfast. With a little café con leche, I can’t imagine a better way to start a day. On one occasion, we carefully wrapped a few to bring home with us to Chicago, but sadly they got slightly smashed in our carry-on luggage and from then on, we decided they didn’t travel well. And after eating garibaldi on countless visits to Mexico City, I returned from our most recent trip with a serious mission: to spend time in the test kitchen trying to recreate them so I wouldn’t have to wait until my next trip to Mexico to eat them. Looking at my calendar, five months is a long time – too long, if you ask me – to deny myself one of my favorite sweet treats…. 

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