Chiles en nogada
I went to Puebla on Monday, for a client meeting. Now that the motorway has finally been finished the trip from Cuernavaca to Puebla takes only one and a half hours or nearly 2 hours, depending on which part of Puebla you go to.
Puebla de los Angeles - to use its full name - is the capital of the state of Puebla, and is famous for its churches and ceramics, called Talavera. It is a much bigger town than Cuernavaca, with about 3 million inhabitants and it is amazing to see all the development taking place. We drove in from the Atlixco side and the area is full of universities and shopping malls and car agencies and big buildings. In contrast, the historic centre is old and colonial and the buildings are built with volcanic rock and decorated with Talavera tiles. It’s a delightful place to go if you are a tourist and the food is excellent, particularly the mole.
We went for a meeting so we were closeted in a modern building all day. However, we did go out for a really delicious lunch, to a restaurant called La Noria, famous in Puebla. Most of us ate chiles en nogada, a famous dish which has its origins in Puebla. It is the traditional dish for this time of year as it uses ingredients such as pomegranate and walnuts which are seasonally available now. Really it is the month of September when everyone eats them, it is related to the independence celebrations because of its colours: green (the chile poblano), red (the pomegranate) and white (the cream walnut sauce). An extra bit of green is added through decorating the chile with flat leaved parsley, so the colours of the flag are better represented. The word nogada refers to the walnuts. There are many recipes for this famous dish but the basic idea is to stuff the chiles with shredded meat, fruits and spices, ladle the creamy sauce over the chile and then decorate with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Sounds easy but it isn’t, it’s a labour of love and I would certainly never make them! The chile I had was delicious and I couldn’t finish it, it was huge.
Our drive to Puebla in the morning was excellent, with glorious sunshine and clear views. The motorway literally drives round the volcano and we stopped to take a quick picture. It's strange how the volcano changes shape and size, or so it seems, the closer you get. It seemed flatter the closer we got. We couldn't see the summit as it was surrounded by cloud but you can just see the stuff it's currently exhaling (as they say). You can also see the villages on the skirts of the volcano, the inhabitants of which are the people who would have to run in the case of a serious eruption.
Our journey back later that evening was appalling, pitch dark, pelting rain, ghastly conditions on a road with little traffic except for massive double trailers and no telephone signal. Horrid.
But we survived.....