The Flavors of Semana Santa
By Jade Arroyo
Mexico is a mostly Catholic country, where religious beliefs carry a traditional spirit that extends to gastronomy. Cuaresma is the time set forty days in advance of the Easter celebration.
Our country has one of the most complete and tasty cuisines in the world due to its pre-Hispanic influences and unique regional ingredients. Food shops and supermarkets are flooded with special sales and promotions, and in San Miguel de Allende during this time of year, we can find many local and really succulent choices.
Each culture has its gastronomic Christian interpretation of this tradition and typical dishes, which usually do not include meat during the Lenten season. Gastronomy of Easter is for all cuisines and with special foods now allowed during the holy period of Christianity, occurring from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday.
Traditional places in San Miguel
Ignacio Ramírez Market
In the courtyard of the market, right before going down the stairs that lead to the crafts section, you can find many merchants offering fresh products, homemade guisados (dishes,) and vegetables. They arrive around 8am to sell tamales with poblano and cheese, fresh cheese and dairy items (try the home-made jocoque), sweet and salty gorditas, honey and pots with homemade romeritos or nopales salad. Besides hand-made tortillas and aguamiel (or agave juice, a traditional beverage famous for its health benefits), you can also pick up some raw nopales to make at home (they’re the perfect substitute for meat), squash blossoms, and avocados.
Plaza across from the Oratorio church
Every morning, women and men from communities in San Miguel come to the centro to sell a variety of vegetarian and fish/shrimp-based foods, like nopales salad, vegetarian cheese tamales, and shrimp patties.
San Juan de Dios area
The custom here is making the deep-fried little tacos stuffed with piloncillo. These dainty fried sweets are made during Lent, near the arrival of Our Lord of the Column a week before Easter. The best clientele are the children from the nearby schools. The ladies who make and sell these sweets also have other choices, like marzipan or pinole (corn and sugar candy).