Recovering Traditional Dishes
By Jesús Aguado
Nopales cooked on pads of prickly pears, egg cake, and atole (a corn meal drink with sunflower seeds) are just some of the dishes included in the Guanajuatense food culture.
The Secretariat of Health, through its Food and Physical Activation Program, held the Guanajuato Gastronomic and Traditional Food Sampling Contest in December. Blanca Aguilar, coordinator of the program, explained that the purpose of this contest was to recover the traditional dishes that have been lost with time and to recover some ingredients that are not used anymore in the rural communities of the state.
Aguilar commented that through this program, a contest was held in the state’s eighth Sanitary Jurisdiction, and the winners came to San Miguel to present their dishes. The winning recipes will be included in a recipe book to be printed by the state and distributed free in the Sanitary Jurisdictions in the first trimester of this year. The winning recipes from this contest will also be part of the federation’s recipe book, which will include traditional dishes from across the country.
One of the San Miguel representatives was Adela Gómez from the rural community Begoña del Progreso. She presented nopalitos cooked on a pad of prickly pear, a dish she learned from her mother. She said the recipe is very simple. First she had to look for the mature pad. “It has to be cut very carefully,” she instructed, “because they have many thorns.” Then she cut the pad in half. Separately, she prepared slices of tender nopalito with salt, oregano, and onion. She put the nopalitos on the pad and tied it with leaves of corn. After one hour over the coals, the nopalitos were ready. They did not need to be drained.
Isabel Moreno, from Cieneguilla de Tierra Blanca, was giving samples of atole made with sunflower seeds in a clay pot. It is a recipe she learned from her grandmother. “When I was a little girl, my mom used to give it to me, so I learned how to do it,” she said. “Her way of preparing it is very simple. She bought the seeds, washed them, and ground them on the metate. After draining them, she boiled them with water and flour. “After that, you just add sugar,” she said.
Other señoras, like Margarita Luna from Ojo de Diego, San José Iturbide, presented boiled wheat. “It is very nutritious and has zero fat,” she said. This is the dish that all attendees tasted, presented on corn tostadas with tomato, lemon, and ketchup.