Mexico Travel Tips: When My Friends Visit Mexico

When you write a blog about Mexican food and travel within Mexico, you’re bound to be asked for recommendations by… well, EVERYONE. I’m talking family, friends, coworkers, friends of friends, blog readers, complete strangers—it really runs the gamut. But it’s a true source of joy when you share Mexico travel tips with people, and they send you thanks in the form of a video, a photo, a tweet (or whatever else) to let you know they’re thinking of you and appreciate a recommendation that has improved their experience while visiting Mexico.

In the last week, I’ve received two such messages that I wanted to share.

Several years ago, I mentioned to my friend Ramon and his wife how much I love El Globo, a bakery chain that makes one of my favorite kinds of pan dulce—garibaldi. They’re a little upside-down poundcake-like treat that’s bathed in (usually) apricot jam and rolled in white nonpareils. You can even make garibaldi at home with my recipe. A few days ago, while they were in León, Guanajuato, they sent this video while visiting an El Globo location there.

A few weeks ago, another friend told me she’d be traveling to Mexico City on business and needed some recommendations for places to go for breakfast and dinners when she was able to go out on her own. I sent her a list of some of my favorite places near where she was staying and she shared this photo when she visited Churrería El Moro.

  • Have you taken my travel or dining advice in Mexico? I’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below, tag me on Twitter or Instagram @MauraHernandez, or tag The Other Side of The Tortilla on Facebook with a photo and note to let us know where you went and what you ate!

Wordless Wednesday: Papel picado in San Miguel de Allende

During Semana Santa in 2012, we took a road trip from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende with José’s parents. I stumbled across a folder of photos from the trip recently and realized I’ve never written about it here. While I take some time to piece together some of my photos and journals from the trip, I wanted to share this photo. I can’t recall the name of this cafe, but San Miguel de Allende has a number of intriguing doorways that just make you want to peek inside. I can remember with such clarity how delighted I was to discover this little restaurant’s colorful and intricate papel picado hanging from the ceiling.

papel_picado_san_miguel_de_allende_TOSOTT

 

  • Have you been to San Miguel de Allende? Tell me something about your visit in the comments below! Haven’t been there yet but dying to go? Let me know what you’re interested in doing there while visiting.

Celebrating Día de los Muertos with friends: Mama Latina Tips

Día de los Muertos was this week and as a special treat, I’ve asked some of my friends to send me photos and descriptions of their altars to share here on The Other Side of The Tortilla to show the variety of ways that people celebrate this holiday.

Today, I’m sharing the altar of my friend Silvia Martinez from Mamá Latina Tips.

An altar for Día de los Muertos in Guanajuato, Mexico. PHOTO/COURTESY OF SILVIA MARTINEZ

Where in Mexico are your family’s roots?
My family is from Guanajuato, a beautiful state in central Mexico. Before I moved to the U.S., I don’t recall participating much in the type of Day of the Dead celebrations that have become so popular recently. What we do is this: each year my family goes to the cemetery, with literally thousands of others, to place flowers on the graves of family members and clean up around the grave site. There is usually music and even food—it feels more festive that one might think—and then we go to Mass. Since living in California with my own family, the desire to share this particular part of my culture with my boys has increased. We just spent Day of the Dead in Mexico and it was both fun and fascinating.

Who does your altar honor?
We didn’t prepare an altar this year at home; however, the boys had two at school, and we really enjoyed walking downtown to see all the beautiful altars displayed by both students and families.  At school, their altars honored a patron saint of the school and a friend of the school’s who recently passed. There was a contest in El Jardin (the central court in the city), where we saw everything from pre-hispanic altars, to traditional altars, to modern altars. Many of the students’ altars came with explanations of the symbolism behind their ofrendas and some history of the Day of the Dead tradition, so we learned a lot.
What do you typically put on your altar?
As I mentioned, we didn’t have our own altar this year, but typical items include, an image of a saint dear to the family, bread, salt for purification, fruit, images of souls in purgatory, candles, and favorite belongings of family who have passed.

How has celebrating Día de los Muertos in Mexico this year been different for you than the way you celebrate it in the U.S.? Have you noticed anything interesting or different than what you remember it being like from when you were growing up in Mexico?
I would love to share something that I haven’t seen before, as it seems to be a new tradition in my pueblo. On the night of November 1st, families go out into la calle (what we call the streets downtown) and kids carry bags and ask for candy just like on Halloween in the U.S., but instead of saying “trick-or-treat,” they say “Mi calaverita” (which means “my little skeleton”). Also, a lot of women dress up as Catrinas, some with elaborate dresses and hats. Catrinas have been a symbol of Day of the Dead for a long time and I think it is just beautiful seeing them embrace and expand on this tradition.

For more photos and a story from Silvia about celebrating Día de los Muertos in Mexico, click here to go over to Mamá Latina Tips.

Travel Tuesday: Escape to Guanajuato

It’s no secret that I love Mexican playwright Tanya Saracho’s work. This past weekend I was in the third row of the opening night of her newest show, El Nogalar, playing at the Goodman Theatre through April 24. It was so amazing, I’m going to have to go back to see it again. I cried, I laughed, and at the end I was sad it was over. My only regret about the show is that there is no Act II; despite the 1 hour 40 minute run time with no intermission, I could have watched that story continue to unfold for a few hours longer. You can listen to Tanya talk about the play in a clip from Chicago Public Radio’s Eight Forty-Eight show from last week.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Tanya last year for a feature in Café magazine, in which she was named one of the publication’s 2010 Latino Luminaries – an award for Latino leaders who served as inspiration and for the contributions made in their respective fields and communities. And she’s so brilliant, even the New York Times has taken note.

So suffice it to say that I was absolutely thrilled to see a travel piece in the April issue of Chicago magazine about Guanajuato, featuring Tanya as the trusty tour guide. Originally from Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Tanya is a longtime Chicago resident. The article touts Guanajuato as “the anti-spring break,” a different alternative to visiting Mexico than just heading to typical places such as Cancún…. 

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