Archive for July, 2011

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Top 5 Museums for a Rainy Day in Puebla

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Faces of Divinity: Mayan Green Stone Mosaics is on display at Museo Amparo through Aug. 29.You know it’s summer in Puebla when scattered showers and thunderstorms are forecast every day for what seems like an eternity. The good news is that wet weather doesn’t have to rain on anyone’s holiday parade, because the capital city offers plenty of indoor activities for avoiding the storms outside.

For starters, why not explore one of Puebla’s vast array of wonderful museums? We’ve picked five that we think you’ll enjoy even if you don’t read Spanish. These sites won’t break your budget, either, because they’re all are open to the public free of charge at least one day a week. Most also give breaks to students and visitors older than 60 (you may be asked to show a university credential or an INAPAM card). The first two on the list, Museo Amparo and Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana, are participating in the city’s “Museum Nights” program, which means they’re open free during special hours (5 to 10 p.m.) through Aug. 12.

Museo Amparo

One of the finest museums in Mexico, Museo Amparo boasts an impressive collection of Olmec, Aztec, and other pre-Hispanic artifacts, as well as religious works from the Colonial period and contemporary art. Its temporary exhibitions vary wildly in content and scope, from the recent show of tattoos by Oaxaca artist Dr Lakra to the current display of Mayan funerary masks. Much of the museum’s explanatory signage is in English and Spanish. The Amparo is in the midst of a $17 million renovation project, scheduled to be completed by May 2012, that will open up existing areas, expand the on-site library, update the auditorium, and add new rooms for children’s workshops and more.
2 Sur #708, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-6pm; closed Tuesdays. Admission is 35 pesos (free on Mondays).

Museo Regional de la Revolución Mexicana

An antique mirror damaged by bullets in the Serdán home, now the Museum of the Mexican Revolution.Puebla is often recognized as the site of the Battle of Cinco de Mayo against the French, but fewer people know the capital city as the place where the Mexican Revolution began. Members of the Serdán family, who lived on Sixth Street, were vocal opponents of President Porfirio Díaz—and stockpiled weapons to support their cause. On November 18, 1910, two days before the official revolt was scheduled to begin, police surrounded the Serdán home in an attempt to seize everything, and a face-off ensued. The building (still riddled with bullet holes) now serves as a memorial of their loss—and the Revolution that their cohorts ultimately won.
6 Oriente #206, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

San Pedro Museo de Arte

This former hospital, built in the 16th century, is now a top-notch exhibition space. In addition to a small permanent collection that charts the building’s medical history — including a curious re-creation of its one-time pharmacy — the site accommodates all sorts of temporary shows, from traditional women’s textiles to ultramodern photography. The museum also occasionally hosts symphony concerts by the state orchestra.
4 Norte #203, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

Centro Cultural (Ex-Convento de) Santa Rosa

Closed for renovations until 2013.

Foodies won’t want to miss a trip to the former convent of Santa Rosa de Lima, where sometime during the Colonial period mole poblano was likely invented. (See our previous post, “Holy Mole Poblano!”) Visitors can go inside its stunning traditional kitchen adorned with talavera tile from ceiling to floor and imagine stoking the fire underneath a big ceramic pot filled with thick, bubbling sauce. The rest of the building, which was restored last year, has an interesting history, too, having served not only as a cloister, but also as an insane asylum and tenement housing before evolving into a cultural center in 1973. Today the site showcases diverse arts and crafts, from folk dancing to woodwork, from the seven economic regions around the state.
3 Norte #1203, Centro Histórico. Open 10am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 30 pesos (free on Tuesdays).

Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos

Situated on land occupied in different eras by two lines, Ferrocarril Mexicano and Mexicano del Sur, the National Museum of Mexican Railways studies, rescues, and preserves Mexico’s freight and passenger railroad heritage (since 1850) through cultural, recreational, and educational activities. Its current exhibit, “Yo Soy Rielero: Retrato Ferrocarrilero,” features more than two dozen historical photos of railway workers, their tools, and their locomotives — inside a train car, the Express NdeM 12178. The show runs through Sept. 25. Bring an umbrella to tour the tracks and beautiful grounds.
11 Norte #1005, Centro Histórico. Open 9am-5pm; closed Mondays. Admission is 11 pesos (free on Sundays).

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Chiles en Nogada Season Arrives in Puebla

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Chile en nogada, by Mesones de la SacritíaChiles en nogada are so important to Puebla’s gastronomy that their arrival each year draws an impressive crowd. The official 2011 season kickoff, held July 14 by the national restaurant association at Hotel Camino Real, attracted scores of restaurateurs and various dignitaries, including Mayor Eduardo Rivera Pérez, celebrity chef Patricia Quintana, and a Mexican archbishop (the dish was invented by nuns). Nineteen different restaurants served their takes on the traditional recipe, sales of which are expected to bring in 10 to 20 percent more patrons into dining rooms statewide between now and the end of September. The state secretary of tourism says Puebla is allocating 7 million pesos for the promotion of regional cuisine.

It’s been a tough year for cultivating two of the dish’s key ingredients, walnuts and Poblano chile peppers, in the state of Puebla. Bad weather (hail, frost, landslides) and competition from importers have cut supplies and driven up prices. However, purists continue to use only local products, and restaurateurs remain optimistic and anticipate diners will consume some 3 million chiles en nogada, or 25 percent more than they did in 2010.

Dignitaries at the 2011 season kickoff included the mayor and celebrity chef Patricia Quintana.Visitors to Puebla can sample chiles en nogaga at eateries all around the state and its capital city, including these official purveyors promoted by the restaurant association. Expect to pay 100 to 350 pesos per plate. In addition, at least two festivals that celebrate the nearly 200-year-old dish are scheduled to take place in the neighboring towns of San Andrés Calpan (August 12 to 14) and San Nicolás de los Ranchos (August 6 to 29). To learn more about the history and preparation of chiles en nogada, check out All About Puebla’s previous post, “Puebla’s Patriotic Dish: Chiles en Nogada.”

Sources: Intolerancia and Milenio newspapers

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Botanical Garden Fosters Native Plants of Puebla

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The garden is divided into ten sections, including a quercetum (oak plantation) near the main building.Few nations on the planet boast greater biodiversity than Mexico, which ranks fifth worldwide in total number of species and first in cacti and pines. The state of Puebla alone is home to an impressive array of flora, both wild and cultivated, according to a new book in Spanish co-authored by the experts who run the BUAP Botanical Garden.

Plants of Economic Importance in the State of Puebla describes more than 850 edible, medicinal, and ornamental species, providing their common and scientific names, where to find them, and how they’re typically used. The book is designed, like the botanical garden, to provide an accessible means of appreciating and learning more about some of Puebla’s most valuable natural resources.

Agriculture is so economically and historically vital to Puebla that the state’s coat of arms includes a hand holding a plant with farmland in the background. The industry today accounts for 8 percent of the state economy. Indeed, one cannot help but notice the abundance of cornfields flanking the rural stretches of highway that lead visitors from both the Puebla and Mexico City airports to the center of Angelopolis. However, due to rapid growth in and around the capital over the past two decades, urban green space is increasingly hard to find. The botancial garden, which occupies 25 acres of land on the BUAP’s University City campus in the San Manuel neighborhood, doubles as one of the largest public parks in the city.

Did you know that tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica) can be used not only to make delicious salsas, but also to treat tonsillitis, cough, and bladder infections?

A large lake at the BUAP Botanical Garden attracts various species of birds.Founded in 1987, the botanical garden features hundreds of species — trees, grasses, succulents, wildflowers, and more — from areas around the state. Its overall mission includes the study, conservation, and promotion of native and new varieties of plants that have horticultural and economic-development potential. To this end, the garden is divided into ten distinct sections, from a semi-arid zone to a seasonal wetland, each based on the geography, ecology, taxonomy, and use of the species growing therein. The site also features a small butterfly garden and a sizable lake, which attracts some 90 species of birds throughout the year.

All visitors are welcome to take a leisurely self-guided tour by following the paths that wind through the garden. Groups of 10 to 40 people can book docent-led tours (in English or Spanish), during which they’ll learn about the site, the scientific and common names of myriad flowers, plants, and trees, and their significance as food, medicine and potions, crafts and dyes, and religious symbols.

The Jardín Botánico Universario is open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. Tours and workshops offered to groups for a fee. The garden is located on the BUAP’s CU campus in Colonia San Manuel near the 24 Sur entrance. For more information, call (222) 229-5500, ext. 7032 or 7030.

Copies of the book Plantas de importancia económica en el estado de Puebla, by Maricela Rodríguez Acosta, Allen Coombes, and Alberto Jiménez Merino, are available for purchase (350 pesos each) at the garden and Gandhi bookstores in limited quantities. All proceeds support continued work in the field.

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