Friday, July 22, 2016

July 21, 2016. A restful day in Patzcuaro

July 21, 2016. A restful day in Patzcuaro 

After our long dry last night we slept in.  In the morning I walked around the Villa Maria garden admiring Michael's booming orchids.  From what I have seen the cool rainy humid weather is in Patzcuaro is ideal for growing orchids.  Here are pictures of some of the blooms and the garden.



   The south side of the rear garden















  A bromeliad

   The passage from the front garden to the rear garden

    The rear garden seen from the walkway from the front garden

  An odd fern like plant in the back garden

 
I need to mention that Michael, the owner is an architect in Canada and a collector of regional folk art.

Around noon we went out sightseeing and visited mostly fabric stores, looking for a bedspread for our next project, the remodeling of our bedroom and bathroom.

We stopped at a store across the street from the museum of Technical Arts? And talked to the owner, Rick, who is a partner with Michael in the store.  He told us that the Museum was one of the oldest Colonial buildings in the Americas, dating back to the 1540’s.  It was built under the direction of Father De Vasco de Quiroga and it and the art museum next to it sit on the pyramids and platform that pre-dated the Spanish conquest.  We immediately walked across the street, paid our 50 pesos each and went in.  The museum is devoted to the history of the crafts that De Vasco encouraged the indigenous people to make, whose traditions last to this day.  Rick said, “De Vasco was a utopian idealist, who wanted to create a utopian community in the highlands of New Spain.”

The museum had many old and new craft items, including a portrait of De Vasco.  We then walked to the back of the museum and were confronted by a partial pyramid, partially reconstructed and partially in reconstructed.  We realized that the museum was constructed on and using the stones of the pyramids.  We were standing on sacred ground in all kinds of ways. 

We then walked to the big plaza, where we bought brownies and Kaiser rolls at one of the nicest bakeries in town.

It was starting to rain, so we scurried back to Villa Maria just before a torrential downpour began.  We decided to cook the pork chops we had bought with the candied fruits we had bought in San Miguel de Allende.  We peeled and diced the last two carrots and blanched them and then combined them into the sautéed fruit.

We also heated the PPI sautéed potato slices.

After lunch we rested and read in the cool rainy afternoon.

We were not very hungry for dinner.  Although Suzette made a lovely cream of mushroom soup with the last of the white mushrooms and cepes and ¼ of a red onion in the beef stock from our first meal, plus cream and a bit of 2015 Marques Del Valle Mexican white wine.

 I ate the unfinished portion of of lunch by making an open faced sandwich of pork chop and potatoes on a buttered toasted slice of integral bread.  The Danish smorgasbord tradition I established in the summer of 1968 in Denmark persists.

The rain continued into the evening, so we read and packed.  I ate a brownie with tea later in the evening.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, July 21, 2016

July 20, 2016 trip to Ochumicho and Zamora and back alive

July 20, 2016 trip to Ochumicho and Zamora and back alive

We watched the end of the stage of the Tour de France.  A Russian Katushka rider named Salkin? Won the stage but the thrilling element of the race was the attempt by Richie Porte to whittle down Chris Froome’s lead.  Porte jumped out into a lead on the last ascent of the day and Froome followed and made up the gap.  No one else followed so every one of the other leaders like Quintana lost about 20 seconds.

Chris tailed Porte to the finish not helping at all and added a kick at the end to finish with the same time.  After the race Froome said Porte was the better rider,but Froome had the better team support; a generous gesture to the man that carried Froome up the mountains in years past.

We then ate breakfast.  Suzette made an omelet with the PPI beef and vegetables from our dinner several night ago.  As we were leaving to drive to Ocumicho, I stopped across the street for a fresh orange and carrot juice on our way out of town for 14 pesos.  

We drove to Ocumicho in about two and 1/2 hours. The GPS sort of got us lost and we ended up making detours on less than ideal roads.

Rural Mexico is still a third world country. Rudimentary facilities we take for granted like, water, sewer, and an interstate highway system, are luxuries that rarely exist.  Except for the newest and most important roads connecting the largest towns by cults (toll roads) there are few maintained roads, which means traveling miles on pot hole strewn roads or worse, where they have given out and by passes on rutted older dirt roads are used while maintenance is done to renew the more modern failed roads.

We were going cross country by GPS, which favors directness over quality of road, so we soon realized that the shortest distance between two points was by the best road, which,due to our lack of knowledge, became a guessing game.  We finally chugged into Ochomicho, a hillside the bvillage with a labyrinth of streets.  

Soon we discovered that we did not have to find the artisans, they found us and soon we were on a guided tour of four or five of the local artisans for a couple of hours.  Suzette bought several painted wooden masks and six small painted clay masks.  I bought an interesting bowl with Saint Miquel/George holding the scales of justice weighing good and evil and slaying a dragon that represented evil.

We the drove to Zamora for dinner at the Pink Panther Restaurant, recommended by Ann.  The Pink Panther specializes in one dish, carne asado en su jugo (grilled thinly sliced beef, chopped and cooked in a beef broth, served with cooked beans in their broth and garnished with chopped cilantro and onion.  It sounds awful but it is a delicious soupy stew.  We requested no chili.  We also ordered queso fundido (baked melted cheese), which we ordered with grilled small onions and is one of our favorites, especially when served with the fresh warmed tortillas being made in the entrance to the restaurant by a crew of three or four young ladies. We tried the chongas for dessert, but they were terrible.

After dinner we walked around  Zamora a bit to see its tallest church steeple in the Americas.  Here is a photo.

We finished dinner and left Zamora at 6:30 after being warned by our waiter to not drive at night.  We are foreigners in a land we do not know and a culture we barely understand, as we soon found out.  The road system in Mexico links small towns and villages.  Soon after we left Zamora we drove through a small village celebrating some festival which caused the closure of the National highway.  Although there were a mass of people, it  soon seemed to me to be a rouse to extract money because taxi drivers moved their cars from one of the blocked two lanes and readily picked up revelers seeking transportation and we were told that for $10.00 they would help us get through.  Suzette, who was driving, would have none of it.  Said, “This is a national highway. You can not block a national highway.”  But block it they did, so she backed a quarter mile in the only open lane and turned around and re-routed us around the blocked route.  Soon we saw a Federal Police car  driving at high speed toward the blockages it hits lights flashing, but we had already decided to divert our route, which our GPS said would take us 2 ½ hours to return to Patzcuaro..

Unfortunately, the new route turned out to be across a network of smaller unmaintained roads and dirt diversions.  Every small town one passes through has topes (speed humps in the road) to slow traffic to protect pedestrians while they cross the highway. The more urban the town the more topes; think each school and bus stop plus every urbanized neighborhood.  At night you must be particularly vigilant.  Perhaps that is why Mexicans say to not drive at night, besides due to the fact that horses and cows are often open ranging on highways and dogs are every where. So our 2 ½ hour return turned into  a 5 ½ hour trip.  We arrived back at the casita at 11:30.  One good thing is that the Mexicans take their own advice and rarely drive at night, so we had the freedom to use the entire narrow two lanes roads without much traffic, which was helpful as we were forced to swerve around pot holes.  I drove us back after dark because my night vision is better than Suzette’s. Luckily I kept the car on the road (there are no aprons that would allow one to pull off the road) and slowed for most of the topes.  The 71 mile return to Patzcuaro was an exhilarating driving experience  that I shall not soon forget and hope not to repeat.  I actually felt quite courageous and brave and lucky to have made it back with the car in one piece.  In the entire 71 miles, we probably only met about ten cars.

Bon Appetit

 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

July 19, 2016 Breakfast fruit with granola and yogurt. Lunch hotel real de Cobre in Santa Clara dinner. Mac and cheese with greens and a mushroom medley

July 19, 2016 Breakfast  fruit with granola and yogurt. Lunch  hotel real de Cobre in Santa Clara  dinner. Mac and cheese with greens and a mushroom medley 

We both had slightly upset stomachs so we decided to eat granola, yogurt, fruit with a bit of milk for breakfast.

   Figs and papaya 

We then drove to Santa Clara de Cobre to shop for copper sinks for my new bathroom.  When we arrived there was a film production in progress so we decided to eat lunch under the portal facing the plaza in the outdoor seating area in front of the Hotel Real de Cobre.  Suzette ordered squash blossom soup and I ordered filets Mignon.  Both our dishes were pretty mediocre.  My steak was thin cut with sautéed mushrooms and hotdogs in a brown sauce, sort of a Salisbury steak with a real piece of meat.  Suzette’s soup was really bland with no sign of a squash blossom.

  Filets Mignon with a mushroom hotdog brown sauce

  Squash Blossom soup without the Blossums

    The napkin arrangement and square at Santa Clara

After about one hour the filming stopped and we were able to walk the square and shop.

We soon found a great shop, El Viejo Almancen where we had told to look behind a coffee shop under the portal, where we found sinks, wine buckets, and glasses.  We spent 4000 pesos (about $230).

We then went back to the Museum of Copper, where Suzette bought key rings and then we drove around a bit to see if there were any shops we may have missed.  Finding none we returned to Patzcuaro.

When we r returned to Patzcuaro we decided to walk around down town to better get our bearings.  We walked to the main rod where the Pemex station is and walked that street to the market.  After walking one street to the left we decided there was more activity on the two plazas that lie within a block of each other.  We walked back to the market and at the corner of it we found a lady with tables full of fresh wild crepe and chanterelle mushrooms.  She was asking 60 pesos for a kilo and after a little discussion as to the wisdom of buying wild mushrooms from a street vendor we took her suggestion and bought a ½ kilo (1 lb.) after she showed us the beautiful fluted undersides of the cepes.  She had a metal holder that is the type used on a scale and Suzette and I picked about six or seven large nice mushrooms and then the lady reached into the pile of cepes and with two hands took a huge bundle of mushrooms to fill the holder.  I guess the filled holder was the measure of ½ kilo.  It looked and felt like more than a pound, but thanked her and walked toward the adjoining square.  

 Under the portal adjoining the portal we saw many fancy restaurants and soon came to the Tourist information office, which was opened and staffed by a knowledgeable attendant who spoke excellent English.  We forget often that language skills do matter.

He provided us maps of Patzcuaro and the state of Michoacan and identified villages that specialized in crafts we were interested in, such as the lovely green glazed jars in the shape and decorated as pineapples and famous restaurants in Patzcuaro and the surrounding countryside.

We thanked him and resumed our circumnavigation of the two squares.  We decided that we needed to make mushroom soup and needed Crema, so we stopped at a convenience type store on the square and were directed to another store under the other portal on the square where we bought a 200 gram container of LaLa crema for 9.50 pesos or about $.60.


We then walked the short block to the other larger square where the Balloon Festival stage had been located during the weekend and saw other restaurants and more touristy shops.  After walking the half of the second square that ended nearest to our villa, we turned toward the villa and after a three block walked arrived at the villa and our small casita.

We rested for a few minutes during which we discussed dinner.  Suzette suggested pasta with the mushrooms and the rest of the spinach and chard, which sounded fabulous to me.  After Suzette cleaned the mushrooms, I sliced them into bite sized pieces.  We now had a medley of three types of mushrooms, the white we bought at the supermarket yesterday and the cepes and chanterelles bought today.

Then I diced 1/3 white onion and two cloves of garlic.  I then de-stemmed and tore the spinach and chard leaves from their stalks into bite sized pieces.  Finally I chopped up about three oz. of Oaxacan string cheese and about three T. fresh beautiful Italian parsley.  

While I was chopping Suzette had brought a pot of water to a boil and cooked and drained a package of lovely semi-circular large rounds of pasta. Here is a picture of one.


She then Sautéed the onion, mushrooms and garlic and added that hot mixture to the drained pasta in it's still warm pot and added the cleaned greens, cheese and two T. of crema and garnished the dish with chopped parsley.


We drank a bottle of award winning 2015 Las Moras Malbec from Argentina that we bought yesterday for 96 pesos.  It was a solid bottle of wine with lots of character and very clean tasting.  We liked it a lot with dinner even though it was a red.



We watched the PBS coverage of the Republican Convention for a few minutes, but soon tired of it and returned to the Netflix series called “Top Chefs”.  The episode we watched tonight featured Dan Barber the chef associated with Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  There were many interesting elements of his story and the restaurant’s story.  One I liked was that he was that his mother died a when he was 4 years old of cancer and he was raised by his grand parents on their family farm in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts named Blue Hill where actively participated in farm activities.  Blue Hill was mainly a dairy cow and hay operation, but it taught Dan that you are withdrawing nutrients from the soil through cows’ grazing and you need to replenish those nutrients if you want to gain the maximum potential from the land, which related directly to flavor and even the composition of the food you harvest.  Dan thus gained a mission.  He almost single-handedly, with help from his brother and wife, created what we now refer to as the Farm to Table movement in American Cuisine.  I recall the first time I ate at Blue Hill in NYC, near NYU, just off Washington Square.  We ate the four course dinner and one of the items was bean salad.  I asked the waiter if I could substitute a different item for the salad and the waiter suggested I try the bean salad.  So I did and was amazed at how delicious it was.  The beans were the freshest, most flavorful beans I had ever tasted, lightly blanched and served with a light vinaigrette.  

The film included a segment to demonstrate how experimental and deep diving into food production Dan gets, by showing him interacting with the staff of Cornell’s experimental farm, where the staff and Dan decided to feed chickens red chile to see if the yolks of the chickens’ eggs would be colored red and they were.  The red egg yolks were served at Blue Hill.  The point Dan was making in a very visual way, is that it matters what the animal that is producing the food you eat is eating.

We loved the dinner and felt we had created a bond with Dan and his Farm to Table movement by making the best Mac and cheese we had ever made with a fresh wild mushroom medley, elegant pasta, crema, and fresh cheese with garlic and onion garnished with fresh parsley and a bit of Mexican sea salt; the freshest, highest quality ingredients cooked sparingly to produce their maximum flavor.

This dish is actually an adaptation of a dish we like and cook a lot that I call stroganoff Paprikesh, a combination of mushrooms, sour cream and cheese, except for this dish we substituted more mushrooms for the meat and paprika or peppers and tomatoes.  So it converts it into something simpler and closer to Mac and cheese.

After dinner we ate the last of our desserts, Tres Leches cake and a slice of flan on chocolate cake, that we had bought at the market in Quiroga on Sunday.

We then grabbed the bottle if Don Simon red wine we had bought yesterday and went upstairs to talk to Bruce and Ann.  Bruce had brought a chocolate whipped cream cake garnished with chocolate swirls and chocolate syrup he had bought at the same supermarket we went to yesterday for 25 pesos, which turned out to be surprisingly delicious in a Trifle sort of way that went well with the red wine.  The Don Simon did not have the depth of character of the Las Moras Malbec, but it had been only about half the cost.

Ann also served a fresh panels cheese studded with flecks of fresh red and green chili that was delicious, especially with the red wine.  What I noticed about our conversation was how well informed Americans of our age are on current affairs.  Bruce was able to quote elements of the New Yorker interview with Schwartz, who had ghost written the "Art of the Deal" with and for Donald Trump, citing direct references to the article as Schwartz’s opinion that Donald Trump is a “sociopath”.

After a pleasant discussion and examining some terrific masks Ann had recently bought and a second dessert and bottle of wine, we said goodnight and walked downstairs to our casita after another long fun day.

Bon Appetit

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 18, 2016 Lunch Janitzeo Island. Dinner Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with sautéed Spinach and Chard

July 18, 2016 Lunch  Janitzeo Island. Dinner  Roasted Chicken and Potatoes with sautéed Spinach and Chard

We had no specific plan for today other than to exchange money and to buy additional groceries.  We drove through town and ended at the supermarket that is located at the main crossroads where the national Hwy. 14 enters Patzcuaro.  We bought spinach, chard, a red and a white Mexican wine, Superior beer, potato chips, a large Coca Cola, sliced ham, Oaxacan string cheese, and a palmier and a hotdog roll.  I ate the hotdog roll in the car cold for breakfast.  

It was noon.  Suzette said, “Let’s go to the lake and eat lunch.  So we drove out to the lake.  There are two boat docks where boats leave foe various villages and islands in the lake.  We arrived at one of them that ferried people to the largest island in the lake named Janitzeo.  Here is some information on Janitzeo from Wilepedia.

“The town of Janitzio, which means "where it rains", is located atop the hill. Janitzio can only be reached by boats which run regularly back and forth from about 7:30 am to 6 pm, accessible from Pátzcuaro's pier (embarcadero). These boats can be hired to take visitors around other parts of the lake. The town is famous for the butterfly fishermen who are skilled at lowering their butterfly-shaped nets to catch the local famous cuisine "pescado blanco". The butterfly fisherman were also located on the back of the 50 peso Mexican banknote.

A 40-meter statue of José María Morelos, a great hero of Mexico's independence, started in 1933, is found on the island's highest point. Visitors can climb to the top of the statue by way of a staircase that spirals up the inside. Along the interior walls, the life of Morelos is depicted in murals painted by Ramón Alba de la Canal and other great Mexican muralists. Although the steep stairway can become congested and distract one's attention, it is a good Mexican history lesson. At the top, one can peer through peepholes in the giant raised fist of Morelos, giving a spectacular view of the island, lake and surroundings.



Its main festivity is "El Día de los Muertos" or Day of the Dead. As part of this festivity, candle-lit boat processions make their way to the island and then to Janitzio's Church and graveyard, remaining there for the night for a large festive vigil with much imbibing involved.”

Suzette had travelled to Janitzeo on the Day of the Dead when she lived in Mexico 25 years ago.  She said she probably would not do it again because of the crowds.
We asked our boatman where to eat and he directed us to a restaurant on the main street just up the hill from the docks.  We saw that the restaurant had many local favorites.  We decided on squash blossom quesadillas and fried pescado blanco from the lake with a garlic sauce.

The restaurant faced the street with no view of the lake, so we asked if there was an area with a great view of the lake.  The proprietress took us up two flights of stairs to a roof patio with a fabulous view of the lake and the fishermen fishing with their butterfly nets.  There was only one table and it was a sunny day, so the lady and daughter lashed an umbrella to the table to provide us shade.

Soon our quesadillas arrived and then large platters of Sauteed fish in garlic sauce with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, rice, beans and warm freshly made blue corn tortillas.  We drank Negra Modelos and enjoyed both the food and the view.



After lunch we walked up the hill toward the big Statue of Morelos, but I became exhausted about ½ way and we decided the better part of valor this day was to return to the boat.  The lake is over 7000 feet in elevation and I became winded.

We returned to Patzcuaro around 4:30 and soon found an ATM machine and withdrew money from our accounts. Living in Mexico these days has gotten a lot easier with cell phones with international coverage and bank debit cards and ATMs. 

We then went looking for wine and found a wine shop with a limited selection.  We bought a Mexican champagne, and two reds. 


While looking for a bakery, Suzette found a chicken store that sold whole rotisserie roasted chickens with potatoes soaked in the cooking juices and salsa.  This is one of our favorite foods in Mexico, because we can make several meals from one chicken.  We drove back to the villa and deposited our goods and made rum and cokes and sat in a rocker in the garden to enjoy the garden and cool weather.  Soon Ann arrived and joined us.  She had had a late lunch with one of the doyens of Patzcuaro.  

I am amazed how quickly Ann has settled in to a comfortable relationship with the locals and especially the art community.

We talked for a while and then we decided to make dinner with our newly acquired ingredients.  I de-stemmed about ½ of each of the spinach and chard plants and finely diced 1/3 red onion and 1 clove of garlic.  Suzette then washed the greens and Sautéed the onion and garlic and spun the greens to rid them of sand.  She then added the greens to the onion and garlic and heated chicken and potatoes in the microwave.  To finish the dish Suzette added some Oaxacan string cheese to the vegetable dish.  I opened the champagne, that Suzette had chilled in the freezer and we had a lovely dinner.


After dinner we watched an episode of Top Chef about an Italian chef in Modena and his American born wife who at the time if the series was named the third best restaurant in the world and held three Michelin stars who modernized the local Italian cuisine of Modena and ate the desserts we bought in Quiroga yesterday with the last of the champagne.

Bon Appetit 

Monday, July 18, 2016

July 16, 2016 the actual entry Breakfast at the Posada de Luna. Drive to Patzcuaro, Dinner with Ann Dunbar Rib steak with Corn, Sautéed Potatoes and Onion

July 16, 2016 the actual entry  Breakfast at the Posada de Luna. Drive to Patzcuaro,  Dinner with Ann Dunbar Rib steak with Corn, Sautéed Potatoes and Onion 

We had a lovely breakfast at the Posada of Machaca, Chicken Mole Enchiladas and Hhot Chocolate.




We drove to Patzcuaro.  There was a balloon festival during the weekend that closed off the center.  We finally found our BNB at 45 Navarette and said hello to Ann Dunbar, who is staying at the same location.  We all went to a supermarket where Suzette and I bought some essentials, such as hot chocolate, pasta, onions, olive oil, butter, eggs, and a few other items.  We then followed Ann to the open air market, where we found mangos and potatoes.  We then went into the covered market and bought smoked pork cutlets and a 1 ½ lb. bone in rib steak.  We then walked back to the BNB, stopping to buy two ears of white corn.  

We invited Ann to join us for dinner.  We sliced and boiled the potatoes and the corn.  Then we  diced and sautéed 1/3 onion with three cloves of minced garlic and put those aside until Suzette had Sautéed the steak. Mi opened the bottle of 2014 Edna Valley Central Coast Pinot Noir.  Soon we were eating a hearty dinner.


Ann suggested we go to a gallery opening and concert near the Plaza.  We went and enjoyed the music for an hour and drank teas and nibbled on a chocolate brownie.  Then we walked to the plaza and enjoyed watching young and old launch their paper balloons into the night sky.  Some of the balloons went over a 1000 feet aloft.  Here is a picture.


We then went home happy.

Bon Appetit

July 17, 2016 Breakfast. Granola, strawberry yogurt, Apple and mango. Lunch Uchepo in Quiroga. Dinner Steak, corn, potato, avocado, and onion fricassee with blanched carrot and string bean.

See July 16, 2016 entry for July 17, 2016 Breakfast. Granola, strawberry yogurt, Apple and mango. Lunch Uchepo in Quiroga. Dinner  Steak, corn, potato, avocado, and onion fricassee with blanched carrot and string bean.


We made the simple satisfying breakfast described above this morning with an apple from the garden and one of the mangos we bought yesterday at the market.

We then drove around the south side of Lake Patzcuaro to Quiroga by way of Thintzuntzan all three villages are on the lake.  It was market day in both Thintzuntzan and Quiroga.  It feels like Mexico celebrates Sunday's be dressing up and going to church or shopping.  After looking at the market at Thin. and visiting its old convent and church with its 500 year old olive trees,  we drove to Quiroga.  Quiroga was a mad house.  We parked in a lot in a side street and walked the short two blocks to the main market, if there was such a thing.  After further inspection on our way out of town, the market extended for many blocks on each side of the main roads through town.  There were hundreds of booths.  According to trip advisor, Quiroga is known for its shellacked wood furniture.  Each small village is known for a unique craft.  This is not coincidental.  As I understand the history, after the end of economedia (enslavement by the Spanish) after 1715 father De Vasco in Quiroga suggested that each village select a handicraft to concentrate on as a means of establishing a local economic advantage.  Quiroga was located near Forest and chose wooden furniture. Thintzuntzan was located on the lake and chose tule/reed woven wear, Santa Clara de Cobre sat on a copper deposit and chose copper ware, etc.

Those economic distinctions and advantages persist to this day.

The other thing I must tell you is that if you have not gotten sick after eight or nine days, you tend to think your system is gaining resistance to some of the nasty bacteria in the food and drink down here.  This is reinforced by seeing everyone eating all the time.  Food is plentiful and cheap and delicious.  It is hard to resist when you have passed the three hundredth food stand in the market crowded with local eating fried tacos or are offered a sample of BBQ pork by a vendor, as we were today in downtown Quiroga.

So today we finally jumped in at Quiroga.  We stopped at a small booth one the Main Street in the market that sold small triangular shaped tamales wrapped and steamed in banana leaf that is a local specialty, Uchepo.  The tamale has no stuffing and is made with fresh ground corn instead of dry corn flour (masa), so it is spongy and a more alive food and usually served with a sauce and crema.  Sort of the difference between fresh pasta and dried pasta.

We bought one for 10 pesos.  The young woman tending the shop asked if we wanted salsa and Crema and we said yes.  So she unwrapped the tamale from its two foot long leaf and put it into a clean plastic bowl and ladled a light creamy broth with chile rajas (strips) over the triangular tamale and garnished it with a dollop of crema.  We covered our bowl with another bowl to carry it and crossed the street to a street front dispensary of beverages.  Food service is mostly segmented in Mexico in the market.  We saw our favorite Mexican beer, Bohemia, and so I selected a light and Suzette selected a dark.  I took them to the lady who ran the store and she said, “30 pesos.” I asked if that was for both beers, because we had never paid less than 35 pesos in any Restaurant. She said, “Yes.”  So I paid 30 pesos or $.83 per beer and asked her to open the bottles.  I then asked her where we could find a table or seat to eat our lunch and she directed us to the park beside the church at the crossroads about one block away.  We soon found an open bench in the park next to the throng of small open air eateries next to the church and enjoyed our echepo with the light chili cream sauce (salsa me and sauce in Spanish) enriched by the dissolved dollop of crema.  We washed down the lovely tender tamale bathed in its spicy cream sauce with gulps of Bohemia for our first adventure with Mexican street food.

We then made our way out of town through. The throng of people and shops in the market.  Driving into or out of a Mexican town on a market or festival day requires a certain combination of emotional control and resignation just to survive.  At best the unspoken driving etiquette is observed.  There are usually no signals so drivers trade turns entering an intersection and yield to the first car turning if two cars enter from different directions.  Pedestrians sometimes have the right-of-way when the traffic is congested in crossing the street.  When the road is open to vehicular traffic, pedestrians usually yield or stay on the narrow sidewalks beside the streets.  But this somewhat confused on market and festival days when there is a more complex relationship when the throng of pedestrians pours out into the street because it can not be contained on the narrow streets or it is weaving between the stalls lining the street.  When driving, one can either enjoy the seething mass of goods and humanity moving around you or not, buy you soon must resign yourself to it or you will go crazy.  I find it best to be a careful observer and try to enjoy it.  Suzette and I call it window shopping from the car.  Sometimes cars do stop in the street to consummate a transaction, because there is nowhere else to stop.  All of this makes for a unique driving experience.

After leaving Quiroga, we drove back to Tzintzuntzan where I had a major shopping experience.  We had seen and I had tried on a woven tule hat of the type I have bought in Puerto Vallarta for $20.00 each on two prior trips.  When we first stopped in Tzin., I had asked the shop attendant at the street stall in how much her hats cost and she said 35 pesos, so we decided to stop on the way back and get one.  The hats and the lady were still there when we returned to Tzin., which was much less crowded than Quiroga, so I offered her 30 pesos and she agreed to that price.  At the current 18 pesos to the dollar, the price of my new tule hat was $1.66.

We then went to the archeological site on a flattened mound above Tzin., which was quite impressive a row of five huge rounded connected pyramids facing the lake.  We also visited a museum of archeological artifacts on the site of the Tarascan culture that built the ceremonial and political site about 500 B.C.

“Today, the site of this ancient capital consists of five yacatas, or temples, that date back to the 13th century, each erected on a terrace of carefully laid stone blocks. Below the temple you'll come across the 16th-century Convento de San Francisco. Note the twisted olive trees in the courtyard, planted by Bishop Vasco de Quiroga himself in the mid-1500s. The village of Tzintzuntzan boasts several handcraft traditions and is another delightful stop-over en route to Paztcuaro.

On the arrival of the first Spanish soldiers, Tzintzuntzan was a booming urban centre of between 25 and 30 thousand inhabitants spread over almost 7 km2 between the shores of Lake Patzcuaro and the city’s two hills. The city had for centuries been the cultural, religious and social heartland of the ancient Tarascan people: wooden temples were built on five keyhole-shaped pyramidal structures known as yacatas, which were used to perform rituals by both the public and the government.” Visit Mexico.com 

Here is some history of the region from serious eats:
Like the Mayans, Michoacán's native Purepecha people didn't just submit to the Spanish, or the Aztecs before them, and today the state is home to one of Mexico's most diverse indigenous populations. This heritage is reflected in the local cuisine, one that, journalist and Mexican food expert Gustavo Arellano wrote, maintains unusually close ties to its traditional kitchen.

Attesting to the fact that the site at Tzin. was not conquered by the Spanish, it was inhabited after the conquest of Mexico by Cortes and there were Colonial period artifacts that resembled prior artifacts.

On our route back to Patzcuaro, we drove to Ihuatzio, another lake side colonia with an earlier and larger site than at Tzin. with an economy also based on reed objects.  Suzette was interested in a set or reed furniture which we found in a shop near the ruins until she discovered that a whole seating arrangement with stairs, ottomans, sofa, and coffee table was 14,000 pesos ($630.00) and the shop did not ship.

“Ihuatzio is a city located near Lake Pátzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It was once the capital of the Purépecha kingdom. It was the capital until the change to Tzintzuntzan.

Archaeological site

Further information: Ihuatzio (archaeological site)
Ihuatzio is also the name of an archeological site located at the southern slopes of “Cerro Tariaqueri”, just north of Ihuatzio town, in the Tzintzuntzan municipality, of Michoacán state. The site is some 7 kilometers south-east of Tzintzuntzan, on the south-eastern shore of the Lake Pátzcuaro. Human settlements vestiges are registered from two different occupational periods; the first occurred between 900 and 1200 CE, corresponding to Nahuatl language speaking groups; the second group corresponding to the maximum development reached by the Purépecha culture, between 1200 and 1530 CE.” Wikipedia.mx

We then drove back to Patzcuaro an it took about twenty minutes to find a parking spot on the street three blocks above our casita, due to the throng of folks in town to celebrate the balloon festival; not unlike Albuquerque’s Balloon Festival.

We were tired and tried to go out to find some wine to drink with dinner but I only made it one block. Soon after we got back from our thwarted effort to find an alcoholic beverage for dinner at 6:00 we lay down to rest and relax, when it started raining which ended any hope of getting out.

Suzette usually likes a drink to unwind in the evening.  Without beer or wine, she had to get creative and came up with hot chocolate with one of the lavender marshmallows we bought in San Miguel spiked with rum.  I thought it was a delicious drink and sipped my cup of chocolate as I prepped dinner and during dinner.

We decided to use our PPIs.  I stripped the kernels off the uneaten corn, diced the PPI steak and potatoes, and diced about 1/3 onion and two cloves of garlic, 1 ½ Roma tomatoes, and the fallen avocado from the garden.  I also diced a carrot and snapped the string beans we bought yesterday. Suzette blanched the string beans and carrots and fricasseed the corn, onions and potatoes and then the garlic and tomato, and finally the avocado and steak to make an appealing élan get of ingredients.  Finally, Suzette heated several tortillas in the microwave for a minute and we plated the fricassee on warm tortillas with blanched carrots and string beans for a pleasant, healthy hot meal.

July 16, 2016 Breakfast. Granola, strawberry yogurt, Apple and mango. Lunch Uchepo in Quiroga. Dinner Steak, corn, potato, avocado, and onion fricassee with blanched carrot and string bean.

July 16, 2016 Breakfast. Granola, strawberry yogurt, Apple and mango. Lunch Uchepo in Quiroga. Dinner  Steak, corn, potato, avocado, and onion fricassee with blanched carrot and string bean.


We made the simple satisfying breakfast described above this morning with an apple from the garden and one of the mangos we bought yesterday at the market.


We then drove around the south side of Lake Patzcuaro to Quiroga by way of Tzinthuntzan. All three villages are on the lake.  It was market day in both Tzintzuntzan and Quiroga.  It feels like Mexico celebrates Sunday's be dressing up and going to church or shopping.  After looking at the market at Thin. and visiting its old convent and church with its 500 year old olive trees,  we drove to Quiroga.  

  Notice the tiled ceiling and floor in a church in thr convent in Thin.

  A 500 year old olive tree at the convent

Quiroga was a mad house.  We parked in a lot in a side street and walked the short two blocks to the main market, if there was such a thing.  After further inspection on our way out of town, the market extended for many blocks on each side of the main roads through town.  There were hundreds of booths.  According to trip advisor, Quiroga is known for its shellacked wood furniture.  Each small village is known for a unique craft.  This is not coincidental.  As I understand the history, after the end of economedia (enslavement by the Spanish) after 1715 father De Vasco in Quiroga suggested that each village select a handicraft to concentrate on as a means of establishing a local economic advantage.  Quiroga was located near Forest and chose wooden furniture. Thintzuntzan was located on the lake and chose tule/reed woven wear, Santa Clara de Cobre sat on a copper deposit and chose copper ware, etc.

Those economic distinctions and advantages persist to this day.

The other thing I must tell you is that if you have not gotten sick after eight or nine days, you tend to think your system is gaining resistance to some of the nasty bacteria in the food and drink down here.  This is reinforced by seeing everyone eating all the time.  Food is plentiful and cheap and delicious.  It is hard to resist when you have passed the three hundredth food stand in the market crowded with locals eating fried tacos, fruits, and a vast array of other local delights or are offered a sample of BBQ pork by a vendor, as we were today in downtown Quiroga.

So today we finally jumped in at Quiroga.  We stopped at a small booth on the Main Street in the market that sold small triangular shaped tamales wrapped and steamed in banana leaf that is a local specialty, Uchepo.  The tamale has no stuffing and is made with fresh ground corn instead of dry corn flour (masa), so it is spongy and a more alive food and usually served with a sauce and crema.  Sort of the difference between fresh pasta and dried pasta.

We bought one for 10 pesos.  The young woman tending the shop asked if we wanted salsa and Crema and we said yes.  So she unwrapped the tamale from its two foot long leaf and put it into a clean plastic bowl and ladled a light creamy broth with chile rajas (strips) over the triangular tamale and garnished it with a dollop of crema.  We covered our bowl with another bowl to carry it and crossed the street to a street front dispensary of beverages.  Food service is mostly segmented in Mexico in the market.  We saw our favorite Mexican beer, Bohemia, and so I selected a light and Suzette selected a dark.  I took them to the lady who ran the store and she said, “30 pesos.” I asked if that was for both beers, because we had never paid less than 35 pesos in any Restaurant. She said, “Yes.”  So I paid 30 pesos or $.83 per beer and asked her to open the bottles.  I then asked her where we could find a table or seat to eat our lunch and she directed us to the park beside the church at the crossroads about one block away.  We soon found an open bench in the park next to the throng of small open air eateries next to the church and enjoyed our echepo with the light chili cream sauce (salsa means sauce in Spanish) enriched by the dissolved dollop of crema.  We washed down the lovely tender tamale bathed in its spicy cream sauce with gulps of Bohemia for our first adventure with Mexican street food.

We then made our way out of town through the throng of people and shops in the market.  Driving into or out of a Mexican town on a market or festival day requires a certain combination of emotional control and resignation just to survive.  At best the unspoken driving etiquette is observed.  There are usually no signals so drivers trade turns entering an intersection and yield to the first car turning if two cars enter from different directions.  Pedestrians sometimes have the right-of-way when the traffic is congested in crossing the street.  When the road is open to vehicular traffic, pedestrians usually yield or stay on the narrow sidewalks beside the streets.  But this somewhat confused on market and festival days when there is a more complex relationship when the throng of pedestrians pours out into the street because it can not be contained on the narrow streets or it is weaving between the stalls lining the street.  When driving, one can either enjoy the seething mass of goods and humanity moving around you or not, buy you soon must resign yourself to it or you will go crazy.  I find it best to be a careful observer and try to enjoy it.  Suzette and I call it window shopping from the car.  Sometimes cars do stop in the street to consummate a transaction, because there is nowhere else to stop.  All of this makes for a unique driving experience.

After leaving Quiroga, we drove back to Tzintzuntzan where I had a major shopping experience.  We had seen and I had tried on a woven tule hat of the type I have bought in Puerto Vallarta for $20.00 each on two prior trips.  When we first stopped in Tzin., I had asked the shop attendant at the street stall in how much her hats cost and she said 35 pesos, so we decided to stop on the way back and get one.  The hats and the lady were still there when we returned to Tzin., which was much less crowded than Quiroga, so I offered her 30 pesos and she agreed to that price.  At the current 18 pesos to the dollar, the price of my new tule hat was $1.66.

We then went to the archeological site on a flattened mound above Tzin., which was quite impressive a row of five huge rounded connected pyramids facing the lake.  We also visited a museum of archeological artifacts on the site of the Tarascan culture that built the ceremonial and political site about 500 B.C.

“Today, the site of this ancient capital consists of five yacatas, or temples, that date back to the 13th century, each erected on a terrace of carefully laid stone blocks. Below the temple you'll come across the 16th-century Convento de San Francisco. Note the twisted olive trees in the courtyard, planted by Bishop Vasco de Quiroga himself in the mid-1500s. The village of Tzintzuntzan boasts several handcraft traditions and is another delightful stop-over en route to Paztcuaro.

On the arrival of the first Spanish soldiers, Tzintzuntzan was a booming urban centre of between 25 and 30 thousand inhabitants spread over almost 7 km2 between the shores of Lake Patzcuaro and the city’s two hills. The city had for centuries been the cultural, religious and social heartland of the ancient Tarascan people: wooden temples were built on five keyhole-shaped pyramidal structures known as yacatas, which were used to perform rituals by both the public and the government.” Visit Mexico.com 

Tzintzuntzan



Here is some history of the region from serious eats:
Like the Mayans, Michoacán's native Purepecha people didn't just submit to the Spanish, or the Aztecs before them, and today the state is home to one of Mexico's most diverse indigenous populations. This heritage is reflected in the local cuisine, one that, journalist and Mexican food expert Gustavo Arellano wrote, maintains unusually close ties to its traditional kitchen.

Attesting to the fact that the site at Tzin. was not conquered by the Spanish, it was inhabited after the conquest of Mexico by Cortes and there were Colonial period artifacts that resembled prior artifacts.


On our route back to Patzcuaro, we drove to Ihuatzio, another lake side colonia with an earlier and larger site than at Tzin. with an economy also based on reed objects.  Suzette was interested in a set or reed furniture which we found in a shop near the ruins until she discovered that a whole seating arrangement with stairs, ottomans, sofa, and coffee table was 14,000 pesos ($630.00) and the shop did not ship.

“Ihuatzio is a city located near Lake Pátzcuaro in the Mexican state of Michoacán. It was once the capital of the Purépecha kingdom. It was the capital until the change to Tzintzuntzan.

Archaeological site

Further information: Ihuatzio (archaeological site)
Ihuatzio is also the name of an archeological site located at the southern slopes of “Cerro Tariaqueri”, just north of Ihuatzio town, in the Tzintzuntzan municipality, of Michoacán state. The site is some 7 kilometers south-east of Tzintzuntzan, on the south-eastern shore of the Lake Pátzcuaro. Human settlements vestiges are registered from two different occupational periods; the first occurred between 900 and 1200 CE, corresponding to Nahuatl language speaking groups; the second group corresponding to the maximum development reached by the Purépecha culture, between 1200 and 1530 CE.” Wikipedia.mx

We then drove back to Patzcuaro an it took about twenty minutes to find a parking spot on the street three blocks above our casita, due to the throng of folks in town to celebrate the balloon festival; not unlike Albuquerque’s Balloon Festival.

We were tired and tried to go out to find some wine to drink with dinner but I only made it one block. Soon after we got back from our thwarted effort to find an alcoholic beverage for dinner at 6:00 we lay down to rest and relax, when it started raining which ended any hope of getting out.

Suzette usually likes a drink to unwind in the evening.  Without beer or wine, she had to get creative and came up with hot chocolate with one of the lavender marshmallows we bought in San Miguel spiked with rum.  I thought it was a delicious drink and sipped my cup of chocolate as I prepped dinner and during dinner.

We decided to use our PPIs.  I stripped the kernels off the uneaten corn, diced the PPI steak and potatoes, and diced about 1/3 onion and two cloves of garlic, 1 ½ Roma tomatoes, and the fallen avocado from the garden.  I also diced a carrot and snapped the string beans we bought yesterday. Suzette blanched the string beans and carrots and fricasseed the corn, onions and potatoes and then the garlic and tomato, and finally the avocado and steak to make an appealing élan get of ingredients.  Finally, Suzette heated several tortillas in the microwave for a minute and we plated the fricassee on warm tortillas with blanched carrots and string beans for a pleasant, healthy hot meal.


We were so sleepy that we dozed of before we could eat our desserts we had bought in the market at Quiroga.  They will have to wait until tomorrow. 

Bon Appetit