Warm weather means tianguis time! I spotted this little open-air market along Avenida Revolucion in Mexico City during our last trip.
- What’s your favorite thing to buy at a tianguis?
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.
Who doesn’t love capirotada? This traditional treat, a bread pudding-like dish often served during Lent, is typically made with toasted bolillo rolls (French bread is an acceptable substitute if you can’t get bolillos), a syrupy piloncillo sauce, raisins and cheese. Everybody has their own version and there’s no one way to make it. This version from El Bajío in Mexico City includes peanuts and queso fresco sprinkled on top, and was enjoyed on our last visit to Mexico City during the winter. I’ll be sharing a recipe here for capirotada just in time for Semana Santa and Easter.
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.
I’ve mentioned before my love for a bakery called El Globo – but by far my most favorite thing they sell are these precious little pastries called Garibaldi.
These little pound cakes, about the size of a muffin but without the top, are typically bathed in an apricot or raspberry marmalade and then rolled in white nonpareils (known as grageas in Spanish) for decoration. My favorite are the apricot-flavored.
Every time we visit, my suegra will pick up fresh Garibaldi for the day we want to eat them. They’re great as a breakfast pastry or a dessert and they’re the perfect treat because they aren’t gooey or sticky, the cake is perfectly moist and they’re not overly sweet.
I’m on a quest to learn how to make these at home this year because only being able to have them a few times a year is torture! I’ve dreamed about these little cakes and hopefully soon I’ll have a recipe to share here, or at least a comic tale of marmalade-coating-gone-wrong.
I’m sharing my sopa de fideo recipe today because this tomato-broth and noodle soup is a comfort food for me–full of one specific fond memory.
Let me explain. Last summer, after more than a decade of dreaming about visiting Teotihuacan, I finally made the 40-kilometer trip northeast of Mexico City with my suegro and my cuñada. I had yearned to visit this archaeological site since I first learned about it in history books as a kid. The Aztec pyramids fascinated me and I never dreamed I’d be able to travel there, let alone make it all the way to the top of the famed Pirámide del Sol.
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After what seemed like a long car ride on the highway from Mexico City (in reality, it was only about 25 miles), we finally arrived at Teotihuacan. I had worn loose clothes to be comfortable while climbing, and as it was cloudy, I decided against wearing a hat. I had also decided that I couldn’t climb to the top of the Pirámide del Sol without toting two cameras so I could have the advantage of shooting photos with two different lenses without risking getting dirt in my camera’s sensor. Sort of crazy on all accounts, right?
I didn’t expect to get so winded on the way up, but I had to stop at each tier of the pyramid to rest. My suegro, who was 66 years old at the time, had no problem beating me all the way to the top. To be fair, and so you don’t think I’m a total huevona having been beaten to the top of the pyramid by someone more than twice my age, I think it’s important to mention the altitude difference. In Chicago, I’m used to an altitude of 583 feet above sea level. In Mexico City, the altitude is a whopping 7,349 feet and Teotihuacan’s altitude is 7,484 feet above sea level. Add to that the additional height of the pyramid itself (246 feet up) and you might get more of a feel for my inability to keep up. In fact, I felt like my lungs were going to explode. But I kept going, all the way to the top. I couldn’t let my suegro show me up, after all.
Once I finally reached the top, albeit huffing and puffing, it was everything I had hoped it would be. I felt like I was on top of the world, and I could see up and down Avenida de los Muertos. I witnessed an Indian wedding ceremony atop the pyramid and snapped probably over a hundred photos. The way down felt incredibly steep, but it took only about 12 minutes to decend after nearly an hour to get to the top.
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After we’d had our fill of climbing and exploring, we stopped for some lunch at a restaurant down the road that one of the security guards at the exit had recommended. Only as soon as we sat down in the shade at a plastic table with a brightly colored checkered tablecloth, the side effects of too much sun finally hit me. The cloudy sky had been deceiving; I had pretty awful sunburn on my head, face, neck, arms and anywhere else that had been exposed. I could barely eat my quesadillas. Some orange Fanta was all I could manage.
When we returned home, I showered, put on my piyamas and crawled under the covers of my nice, soft bed. I felt too nauseated to even think of food, let alone keep anything down. My suegra took my temperature and gave me some medicine to reduce the fever. She tried to convince me to eat some crackers, but I just couldn’t. I had just had too much sun. The fever and the chills wouldn’t subside and so we decided a nap was in order to let my body rest. After awhile, the smell of tomatoes, onion and garlic wafted upstairs. When I awoke, my mouth was watering a little.
I made my way downstairs to the kitchen and found my suegra setting the table for one. She had made me sopa de fideo because she was worried I hadn’t eaten anything since breakfast. She said it would be light on my stomach and make me feel better. I slowly ate the soup until it was all gone. And what do you know… I actually started to feel better. That day, I became certain of two things: first, that my suegra knows best and second, she loved me just like one of her own.
This soup is a favorite not only for cuando me duele la panza; but when I’m really missing my suegra, too.
I like to use fideo that are already the appropriate cut and size for this recipe. There are several brands that make fideo cut pasta, but if you can’t find them in your grocery store, you can also break spaghetti or vermicelli noodles on your own.
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Author Maura Wall Hernandez
A traditional Mexican tomato broth soup with noodles. Perfect for rainy days and whatever ails you!
When reheating leftovers, add a few tablespoons of water per serving.
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