Puebla is famous for its beautiful churches, colonial buildings and lively streets. But in Mexico, this city is also known for its regional food. Some of the dishes famously kwon as mexicans worldwide are actually from Puebla. So here is a list of the 10 things you must eat when you’re visiting us.
1. Mole Poblano.
This is a delicious dense sauce made with many kinds of chile, almonds, peanut, and many more ingredients poured over chicken meat. But, perhaps the mole is mostly famous because one of its key ingredients is chocolate. I know it sound crazy, but believe me, it’s unbelievable. You’ll love it!
The history of this dish is a little bit complicated. History has it that the Aztecs used to prepare a similar dish made of chocolate and guajolote meat (guajolote is the mexican word for turkey). More recently, the mole comes from the Convent of Santa Clara in Puebla, where legend has it that a nun grind many kinds of chiles and some other condiments to create a sauce.
In Mexico there are many kinds of mole, depending on the region, but the Mole Poblano may be the most famous and most tasty. I know what you’re thinking, “yeah sure, you have to say that because you’re from Puebla”. Well yes, but it’s also true. I promise! You be the judge, come to Puebla and have mole, you’ll see I was right.
These are small almost fried tortilla with red or green sauce, shredded chicken and onion on top. They’re so small you may lose count of how many you had, they’re so good you won’t care about counting them, you’ll just keep eating. They’re the ultimate appetizer in mexican food.
A Cemita is a crunchy bread with a little sesame on top filled with so many things I don’t even know where to begin. Usually they have avocado, beans, quesillo (a kind of shredded cheese), onion and a main ingredient, either milanesa (pork’s beef), pata (pork’s paw), carnitas (stewed pork) chicken or ham, among many others ingredients. They’re so good!
The Cemitas are the main choice when attending sports events or casual gatherings because they’re specially made for not having to actually sit down and eat. You can enjoy them while screaming goal or chatting and strolling with some pals. The bread is open a little more than half way so it’s harder for the ingredients to fall.
4. Tacos Arabes
You can only find this kind of tacos in Puebla. I’m not trying to say that ours are the best of its kind, I’m saying you won’t find them anywhere else! They only exist in Puebla, and if you’re here, you have to try them.
They are a shawarma-style meat served in what we call pan árabe (a kind of pita) and accompanied with jocoque (a kind of tasty cultured butter milk) and chipotle sauce. So, why do we have this obviously arabic dish in our local cousin? Around 1920 many immigrants, mostly from Lebanon and Syria, came to Mexico. Those who stayed in Puebla began mixing their traditions with the locals and they came up with this taco that remained them of their local cuisine. Unbelievable!
If you like quesadillas you’ll love the Molotes. They’re a kind of really fried quesadilla filled sometimes with potato, other times with huitlacoche (squash flower) or anything else you’d like. Of course the finishing touch is hot sauce on top.
This dish consists of steamed hot meat wrapped up in a leif from the maguey called mixiote. This is a pre-Hispanic dish that even though is cooked following the original recipe, is still worldwide famous and considerated a delight, even when served along modern cousin dishes. The mixiotes are a special-event-dish, and I think that shows just how important they are in mexican food.
In Mexico the sweet potato is called camote, and not many people know that it actually comes from the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. But it’s in Puebla where it’s gotten really famous, thanks to the delicious crystalized sweet potato candy, called Camote as well. Even our soccer team’s nickname is Camoteros (meaning, those who make camotes). If you visit the Calle de los Dulces (the Candy Street) you’ll see (and hopefully have a strongly sweet tooth to try) all kind of camotes, of every color and size.
Legend has it that a student in the Convent of Santa Clara found that a nun had left an empty pot on the fire and she thought about making a prank filling the pot with something disgusting and leaving it for the nun to discover it. She placed a sweet potato with a lot of sugar and whipped to get a funny looking pasta. When the nun came, back she was curious and tasted wgat she thought was a left over, it turned out it was delicious.
8. Tortitas de Santa Clara
These are round pumpkin seed cookies with glaze on top. As well as many other important dishes, the Tortitas were made first in a Convent, the Santa Clara one (thus its name) and have become the main candy in Puebla and one of the best in Mexico. They’re really sweet, I can’t have more than one, but maybe you will!
Ok, this is not a meal, is a drink. An alcoholic drink. But you got to try it! The Rompope is an eggnog-like drink with vanilla, almonds and, as I’ve said before, alcohol. Again, the nuns are to blame for this, but this time the nuns of the Convent of Santa Monica are the guilty ones. (The Convent of Santa Monica is a beautiful place to visit, but it’s currently closed due to repair work). I don’t know why the nuns in Puebla were so good at inventing dishes and, apparently, alcoholic drinks, but I couldn’t be happier.
10. Chiles en Nogada.
Chiles en Nogada may be the most famous and most delicious Poblano dish of all! But it’s seasonal, so you can only have it if you come in August or September. It’s made with chile poblano stuffed with minced meat and dried fruits, covered with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds on top. It is prepared only during those months because it’s pomegranate season. The coolest part is that on September 15 is the celebration of the Mexican Independence, and the dish colors are red (the pomegranate seeds), white (the walnut sauce) and green (the chile), just like our flag, so it’s probably the most mexican dish of all!
I hope you´ll enjoy eating in Puebla. Bon Appetit
[photos courtesy of stu_spivack, frischifresh and Vica Amuchastegui]