Ten years ago, I came to Mexico for the first time to study in the city of Puebla. I immediately fell in love with everything–the food, the people, the architecture, the colors, and the way of life. I remember coming to the downtown area on my free afternoons and just marveling over the beauty of the buildings and the hanging green plants everywhere. I would often walk by this quaint hotel that was painted that pretty Mexican pink with indigo blue accents and peer in at the beauty beyond its large wooden doors. I remember I even asked the door attendant one time if I could come in to take a few pictures. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that ten years later I would be staying at this gorgeous oasis in the middle of one of my favorite cities.
Today’s adventures began just a few blocks away from our AirBnB at a little café called Alelí. One of my favorite parts about staying in La Colonia Roma is that you discover a new little shop every time you turn the corner. Alelí is one of those cute cafés with pretty plates of many designs hanging along its wall, a collection of fun cushions on the long bench, and tables with chairs of different sizes and colors.
For those of you who don’t know, I will be in Mexico for the next three weeks with fellow teacher and food blogger, Daniela Cho of The Spiced Kitchen, studying Mexico’s gastronomic traditions. We received a Fund for Teachers Fellowship to study the intersection between Mexican food, culture, history and community, and we will be bringing our experiences back to the classroom in the fall to share with our students. This means that we will be taking cooking classes, visiting markets, talking to locals, and traveling throughout Mexico for the next few weeks. I am going to do my very best to give you an update each day, and I hope that the pictures can do a lot of the talking.
It’s 9:19 PM right now, and as I look outside, I can still see a faint blanket of light weaving through the dark outline of the treetops. That can only mean one thing — it’s summer, the season of long days, sticky skin, and sweet treats.
Paletas are Mexico’s version of the popsicle, but the main difference is that they are made with fresh fruits (and vegetables!). Unlike their high-fructose corn syrup counterparts in the U.S., paletas burst with flavor thanks to the use of peak-season produce. When it comes to food, the final product is always a reflection of the ingredients used to make it, and paletas are no exception.
I usually know that Cinco de Mayo is approaching when I begin to see the lilac bushes blooming. This is one of my favorite times of the year because the trees are painted with pops of white, pink, and purple and the grass looks like a lush green carpet–of course our lawn is dotted with dandelions which makes me happy because we are fertilizer-free and dandelions are great for our pollinator friends. 😉
Cinco de Mayo means that my favorite season is right around the corner, and the school year is coming to a close. Longer, warmer days mean I get to be outside in the garden dreaming of all the fun projects I will be doing in a little over a month.
And although Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day, I still like to celebrate it because it serves as a kind of gate to a wonderful season ahead.
As many of you know, my husband is from the coastal state of Veracruz. The state borders the Gulf of Mexico and has been influenced by trade from Europe and Africa for centuries. The cuisine of the Veracruz region is a direct reflection of this influence. Many recipes incorporate ingredients like plantains and peanuts (from Africa), as well as olives, olive oil, and capers (from Spain).