Daydreaming about Guerrero

My friends at the Mexico Tourism Board office here in Chicago posted this tourism video about Guerrero on their Facebook page yesterday and it had me totally captivated! They’ve been doing a state-by-state campaign (in alphabetical order) to share highlights that different states have to offer and I’ve really been enjoying each week since they started. I’m learning tons of new things about some of the states I’ve never been to as well as some of the states I have visited, but not extensively. It’s also planted a seed about starting a list of all the places I really want to visit in the next few years. I’ve been daydreaming about visiting the Pacific-side state of Guerrero since I watched the video, though, and thought I’d share with you.

The good thing: I have a trip planned to visit the state of Guerrero for a friend’s wedding in Acapulco later in the year. The bad thing: The trip is still several months away. (Insert sad face here.)

But until then when I can share photos and video of my own experience visiting Guerrero, here’s a little something to whet your appetite…

¡Feliz fin de semana!

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Travel Tuesday: Antojitos en Aguascalientes

Last summer, I traveled to Aguascalientes to visit José’s abuelita for her 90th birthday. And of the many things I discovered while visiting this centrally-located city (and state), I learned that antojitos are king! Antojitos are like the Mexican cousin to Spanish tapas.

This past week, the Mexico Tourism Board in Chicago began a campaign called “Share Mexico/Comparte México” to educate the public about each of Mexico’s 31 states and the Distrito Federal. Each week will promote a new state and I’ll be blogging about all the states that I’ve visited to share my experiences. The first week is all about Aguascalientes, and I’m so happy to have the chance to share some photos from my trip.

There are several typical antojitos that you’ll see on just about every menu in Aguascalientes. In any lonchería or cenaduría, you’ll find some version of each of these dishes:


Enchiladas estilo Aguascalientes’n – These enchiladas are filled with chicken and cheese, and the tortilla is bathed in a chile mixture and lightly fried (just enough to make it pliable) before they’re stuffed. Usually, they’re topped with lettuce, diced tomato, cheese and crema Mexicana, and served with a generous side of potatoes and carrots, sort of cooked hash brown-style…. 

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Wordless Wednesday: Snorkeleando

Snorkeleando in Huatulco with my new friend, travel and food writer Cynthia Fuertes, who is a friend of my cuñada‘s. Obviously, we had plenty to talk about! (And in case you’re wondering, yes, the verb ‘to snorkel’ is ‘snorkelear’ in Spanish.) We saw an amazing variety of colorful fish and other sea life; it was so stunning! It was Cynthia’s first time snorkeleando and she loved it, and my cuñada and I had fun showing her the ropes. Stay tuned for some underwater photos and video from our excursion soon.

  • Where’s your favorite place to go snorkeling in Mexico?

Mexique: Celebrating Mexican Cuisine with a French Twist

A few weeks ago I attended a dinner given by the Mexico Tourism Board and Chef Carlos Gaytan at his restaurant, Mexique, in honor of the recent UNESCO designation of Mexican cuisine as an Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Tourism Board over the last several weeks has hosted authentic Mexican dinners in a number of major North American cities to celebrate, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Miami, Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver, so I was thrilled to receive the invitation.

Did you know that French recipes and cooking techniques during the French occupation of Mexico in the 1860s became an important element in the evolution of modern Mexican gastronomy?

Gaytan’s concept behind Mexique is modern Mexican food with French influence. Hailing from Huitzuco, Guerrero, Gaytan’s love of food helped him rise from pantry cook to executive chef. He trained with French chef Dominique Tougne of Bistro 110 (Gold Coast) and has also spent time in the kitchens at Bistrot Margo (Old Town) and the Union League Club (Loop), all in Chicago. If you live in Chicago or are visiting, I highly recommend you visit Mexique for a meal.

One thing that left an impression on me at the dinner was when Carlos explained why he doesn’t serve mixed drinks in his restaurant: they take away from the palate and so instead, he serves wine and tequila. And God bless him for telling everyone in the dining room that tequila should be sipped. Someone at a table near me chimed in that “only heathens drink tequila shooters,” which caused an eruption of laughter at my table.

And I can’t end without showing you what we ate. It was a lovely four-course tasting meal with excellent wines and ended with tequila. I can’t wait to return to Mexique for another meal!

PRIMERO: Ceviche

Ahi tuna, avocado mousse, chipotle aioli, mango habanero galette… 

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Celebrate Mexico Every Day

September 16th, Mexican Independence Day, has come and gone, but the celebration of Mexico isn’t really over just yet.

Tomorrow, November 20th, Mexico will celebrate the centennial of its Revolution. This year has been filled with special events all over the world honoring these two important anniversaries in Mexican history.

But there are many everyday reasons to celebrate Mexico, too: the diverse flora and fauna; beautiful ecosystems spanning every kind of terrain from jungles and deserts; the incredible food with worldly influences ranging from pre-Hispanic cultures to European, Asian and beyond; the kind and generous people; the abundance of historical and World Heritage sites… I could probably go on listing the things I love about Mexico for days. I can’t wait to one day have children to teach them all the things we love so much about the country where their papá was born and raised.

In the news in the U.S., Mexico is often painted as a violent, turbulent place and seldom are the positive things about the country and the culture shared in the mainstream media. But to me, Mexico is so much more than what they show on the news. Here on The Other Side of The Tortilla, I choose to focus on the positive aspects of Mexico and Mexican culture because it is what I feel in my heart. It is a mission here to both connect Mexicans at home and abroad to their culture via stories about family and food – two of the most important aspects of the culture – as well as educate those who are not Mexican about traveling the country, absorbing the rich culture and experiencing the incomparable cuisine.

This week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) awarded Mexican cuisine the status as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya. This is big news in Tortillalandia and you can definitely expect to read more about it here soon. In the meantime, check out the Conservatorio de la Cultura Gastronómica Mexicana to learn more about the organization that submitted the proposal that was approved by UNESCO. I’m excited to see that the world is finally acknowledging the importance of Mexican cuisine and it’s even more special that the status is being awarded during the bicentennial year.

From November 29-December 10, Mexico will also be hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference (also know as COP16/CMP6) in Cancun. I was delighted to hear that the conference will be planting around 10,000 trees and bushes in Cancun as part of their way of giving back to the city for hosting. I’m very excited to see all the sustainability efforts being implemented during the conference, as environmental sustainability and caring for the natural resources of the area are very important to the local habitat. The Riviera Maya has much to offer in terms of natural beauty, historic landmarks and world-class culture and food. In fact, the ruins at Tulum are one of my favorite gems in that area because they incorporate both the lush vegetation and the incredible building skills of a civilization that is not physically present, but still lives on in the heart of Mexican history.

I encourage you to follow along with the conference and check out the resources on their website as Mexico steps into the limelight to become part of the solution, bridging the gap between the developed and developing worlds and educating others on how to preserve our beautiful natural spaces and reduce our carbon footprints for generations to come.

I plan to continue celebrating the magic of the Bicentenario through the rest of 2010 and well into the future. I’ll be visiting Mexico for most of the month of December and into early January so you can count on a daily serving of whatever I’m up to, all laid out here in stories, photos and video every day while I’m there. Ven conmigo and subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss out on the fun!

Without Mexico, my life would be a lot less picante, verdad? And to me, life without a little spice is boring so I’m proud to say that Mexico is my home away from home.

If you missed the espectáculo, check out this video below for a glimpse of how the bicentenario was celebrated in Mexico City’s zócalo. To learn more about Mexico’s rich history and the events still to come in 2010, check out the Bicentennial websites in Spanish and English.

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200 AÑOS DE SER ORGULLOSAMENTE MEXICANOS

  • HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE MEXICO EVERY DAY?
The photos in this post were provided by the government of Mexico through Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.
Ogilvy is working with the government of Mexico as a communications partner to help promote Mexico worldwide as a global business partner and unrivaled tourist destination. To accomplish this, they are working with writers like me to provide interesting information, additional facts, economic information, and new perspectives about the country to a range of interested audiences. The words and opinions here are my own.
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