Mexico City is a busy, noisy, polluted, non stop kinda place. And most citizens can’t wait for one of the many long weekends to come so that they can pack their families into their cars and head out into the vastness surrounding the city. Acapulco, Veracruz and Oaxaca are all popular destinations. We tend to go to Huichapan in Hidalgo, a state which borders Mexico City to the north.
It’s a small colonial town, frayed around the edges and in need of a good lick of paint. Although I fear a coat or two of Comex might actually take away from its charm rather than add to it. Besides, all the other neighbouring towns would feel obliged to spruce themselves up to, and there just isn’t enough paint money to go around.
There’s plenty to do there, but one of the most popular places to go in the day, or even evening, is a hot spring. Warm to boiling thermal waters make their way to the surface and are trapped by ceramic tiles for the pleasure of the vacationing Chilango, whose nose finds the sulphuric atmosphere a refreshing and pleasant change from the toxic fumes of the Periferico, the giant orbital road that circles Mexico City.
There are of course other colonial towns to visit, Tequisquiapan being the most famous. And there’s also a little canyon, with a very tall bridge and a rather long zip line ready for the thrill seeking visitors. Just 50 pesos a go, across one side of the canyon and back. That’s not for me though.
No, I’m more interested in a little climbing down and back up the canyon, and then back to the city for a stroll with my camera. And the food. Every state in Mexico has its own fabulous cuisine, and every town in each state its own unique take on that local delicacy. Often the preparation involves a multitude of spices, sauces, potions and meats, with hours of love and care given over into the creation of another perfect meal.
Oaxaca has the Tlayuda, Puebla has Mole, the Yucatan has Cochinita. Hidalgo? Hidalgo keeps it simple. A big chunk of pork thrown into a vat of boiling oil and later served with fresh salsa to die for. With a little chicharron too of course – crispy pig skin. It’s not just famous for carnitas though. There is also Barbacoa – lamb cooked overnight to ensure the most tender meat you’ll ever taste. And a big favourite with the turtles I have in my yard.
These meals are amongst the simplest (although not necessarily simple) meals you’ll likely be served in Mexico. But they are amongst the tastiest too. Unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case you are perhaps best advised to bring your own food with you, because Hidalgo is ranch country full of meat eating cowboy types.
It also explains why a country with so much wonderful fruit and vegetables is also home to the world’s most obese population. Or so it is said. These hearty meat dishes are not the most healthy eating available. By the way the plate of carnitas above is what I was served at the market place at a grand cost of 30 pesos.
Did I take any photos? Ask a silly question. Click here to go see the whole weekends worth of snap happiness that I induged in, courtesy of Flickr as usual.