Wordless Wednesday: Tortillería El Milagro Mural in Pilsen

Pilsen Tortillería El Milagro mural in ChicagoFor many years while living in Chicago, I bought my tortillas each Saturday morning from Tortilleria El Milagro on South Blue Island Avenue in Pilsen. It was also the only place where I would ever buy ensalada de nopales, for which I’d have to wake up extra early because they always ran out quickly. On the back side of the building is this beautiful mural I often stopped to admire when picking up my tortillas. The neighborhood, located on the Lower West Side, is one of the city’s two Mexican enclaves, and is one of the things I most miss about living in Chicago. My weekly trips to the market, tortilleria and panaderia were like briefly stepping out of Chicago and into Mexico for a few hours at a time.

You can read more about the history of Chicago’s Mexican neighborhoods and the murals of Pilsen here.

  • Does your city have something special that transports you to Mexico?

Travel Tuesday: Puerquitos remind me of Aguascalientes

This past weekend, I ventured into a different bakery in Pilsen than usual when I decided to stop for some bolillo rolls to make capirotada for the last week of Lent. To my delight, this bakery that I hadn’t visited in several years had a tray of puerquitos – a molasses and cinnamon-flavored cookie cut into the shape of a piggy.

Some of you know I gave up eating processed sugar for Lent, something that has not been easy in a house where we love desserts and pan dulce. I was too weak to resist the temptation, though, and bought one to satisfy the craving. I just needed one little bite and I was immediately reminded of a bakery I visited in Aguascalientes last summer with José’s abuelita Ana. It was adjacent to a charming little restaurant downtown called La Saturnina, a place with cotton candy-pink, purple and cobalt blue painted walls, where she loves to eat breakfast (a place she swears makes the best torrejas in Aguascalientes, in part because of the dark, tangy, molasses-like miel de maguey it’s served with). The bakery, called Panadería Los Angeles, was certainly like a slice of heaven with the scent of sugar, cinnamon and freshly-baked breads wafting through the warm summer air…. 

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