Mexico on my Mind

Bright seedsEach day last week, I woke to the sound of the surf and the chatter of pigeons which, like clockwork, flocked to the rafters above our window at exactly 6:30 am.  Usually, I’m an early riser, but I was on vacation.  Kind of.

My husband and I went with the intention of working on a couple of projects, but quickly found ourselves mellowing into the seaside rhythm of Puerto Vallarta, a city in the State of Jalisco, where my great-grandfather hails from.

Between reading in the sun, walking down the malecon (or boardwalk), and hanging out with some friends that live there, we decided that work was not the point.  And, so we stopped.

Instead, we savored delicious Oaxacan coffee while watching the sun rise and tropical drinks as the sun set over the Pacific.

Mexico sunset

We made agua fresca - fresh pineapple or melon blended with water and just a hint of fresh lime – for breakfast each day.   I ate more than my fair share of salsa, but, really, who can resist ripe tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and lime?   And, we went on a taco spree: fresh marlin, mahi mahi, shrimp, calamari…  I’m a sucker for street food and seafood.

Oh, then there was the raw, organic honey - Yucatecan dzidzilche (a white flowering bush)  - I discovered and the dulceria sweet shops filled with pepitas, almonds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts held together by caramelized sugar.

Yeah, I know: sugar…bad deal.  But, these treats are one of those rare indulgences that remind me of my childhood.

Mexico dulceria

My favorite are the ones made of puffed amaranth.  They are called alegrias;  the name comes from the Spanish word for “happy.”

And, happy is how I returned to the snowy mountains that awaited us at home.

Stay tuned next week for a dish inspired by my love for the flavors of Mexico: pork carnitas.  They take some time to prepare, but, trust me, they’re worth the effort, are eaten quickly, and they freeze well.  That’s why I always make a lot.

Until then, I’d love to hear about your favorite place to travel and eat – where do you like to go and why?