Archive for July, 2013|
Sunday, July 28th, 2013
If we had a dollar for every time someone mistakenly referred to Puebla as “pueblo,” we’d be rich. Yes, that sounds terribly cliché. But this Spanish-to-English translation hurdle is arguably the biggest one the city and state must clear in their efforts to attract more international tourism.
It’s easy to see how even non-native speakers of Spanish could confuse pueblo and Puebla, given that many words in Spanish have both masculine and feminine forms. Puebla’s sister city of Pueblo, Colorado, only compounds the issue for Americans. But there’s a huge difference between the two words in Spanish: Puebla is a proper noun, the name of a state in Mexico and its capital city, and pueblo is a common noun in Spanish that means “village” or “town” or “the people” in general. We were delighted to find both cities (if not the generic term) clearly spelled out, side by side, in a 1957 edition of Encyclopedia Americana (pictured) on a bookshelf at the Burbula La Paz on Friday night.
What other misconceptions about Puebla exist? Check out this previous post, which tackles four more.
Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Few places on Earth can satisfy a sweet tooth like the Calle de los Dulces in Puebla. You can almost get a sugar fix just walking by the shops that line Avenida 6 Oriente, their windows and display cases stuffed with traditional candies and cookies.
Once inside, you can choose among dozens of confections to please your palate, from camotes (fruit-flavored sweet potato “cigars”), borrachitos (tequila-infused gum drops), and candied fruits to muéganos (of various kinds), tortitas de Santa Clara (shortbread-like rounds iced with a pepita glaze), and polvorones (sometimes known as Mexican wedding cookies). And, at this time of year, there’s one particular treat that’s sought-after by a few savvy locals: molletes dulces (pictured above).
Molletes? We know, we know. Molletes in Mexico are usually a savory item, often served for breakfast. The basic version is a bolillo or another sandwich roll that’s cut in half, slathered with butter (or not), topped with refried beans, melted cheese, and pico de gallo. Tasty, but these aren’t those. Never heard of molletes dulces? You aren’t alone: Even some Poblanos are unfamiliar with the sugary kind.
“In Puebla, we have many things—memelas, chalupas, molotes, mole, esquites, chileatole, chiles en nogada, our typical sweets, among others … and the molletes that I know aren’t a dessert!” Lucet Gonzalez recently posted on our Facebook page, making us hungry.
“I’m not familiar with those,” added Christine Romero.
“They’re delicious, and they’re only made for the fiesta de Santa Clara … very few people know about them,” chimed in Carlos Rojas Xicotencatl.
“Where to they make them and when?” asked Tammy Fernando.
Good question! Permit us to explain, at least as much as we’ve been able to dig up about this little-known delight.
Molletes dulces — sometimes called molletes poblanos or molletes de coco — are sweet buns filled with custard, sherry or rum, and sometimes coconut and topped with an icing made of finely ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds). The recipe for the bread, notes chef Ricardo Muñoz-Zurita in an article for Mexico Desconocido, is “jealously guarded.” But he compares it to a concha in size, shape, and ingredients, which he lists as “wheat flour, yeast, salt, sugar, egg, and butter.”
Muñoz-Zurita and other observers say that molletes dulces can be had from Father’s Day in June to Independence Day in September, even early October — but we’ve never found them before late July. (Their availability tends to coincide with chiles en nogada season.)
The origins of the dessert are unknown, yet the earliest recipe dates back at least four generations. According to El Universal, the dessert was originally made to celebrate the feast day of Santa Clara (St. Clare of Assisi). It’s possible that we owe its creation to the nuns of the ex-Convent of Santa Clara themselves, who are credited with concocting their namesake tortitas and myriad other typical sweets. The former convent, located at the corner of Avenida 6 Oriente at Calle 2 Norte, is nestled among the various shops on the Calle de los Dulces that sell it today.
Get ’em while you can, for about 55 pesos a pop.
—Rebecca Smith Hurd
Want to learn more about the city’s gastronomy? Take a typical foods tour, which includes a stop on the Calle de los Dulces, with us!
Monday, July 1st, 2013
It was heralded as the world’s largest ferris wheel, a giant rotating lookout that would rejuvenate Paseo Bravo and give locals and visitors a new perspective on the city’s historic center.
But the INAH nixed the downtown location, due largely to the plaza’s UNESCO status, and — two proposed sites later — Puebla’s latest tourist attraction now sits smack-dab in the middle of suburbia. Nonetheless, officials hope that the Estrella de Puebla will draw the ticket-buying masses to Angelopolis.
The enormous wheel, which is slated for inauguration on July 22, is indeed a sight to behold, particularly when it’s lit up after dark. Built by a German company, the 750-ton structure reportedly stretches 80 meters (about 260 feet, or 24 stories) skyward, towering over the three shopping centers that surround it in San Andrés Cholula. Its 54 gondolas will accommodate up to eight passengers each for a maximum of 432 riders at once. Tickets will reportedly cost $30 MXP per person (or $50 in a VIP gondola). Despite its location outside the heavily trafficked tourist areas of Puebla and Cholula, visitors who make the trek — a projected 1 million per year — at sunset are likely to be treated to some truly spectacular views of the Popocatépetl volcano.
The Estrella de Puebla loosely resembles the popular Eye in London. And, although the poblano version may be the largest transportable wheel on the planet, it’s significantly smaller than its British counterpart. The Eye is 135 meters (about 443 feet) tall and weighs 2,100 tons. An even bigger, heavier observation wheel will be inaugurated on a manmade island in Dubai in 2015.
Puebla’s $400 million peso project includes the construction of a plaza with a fountain, a 256-space on-site parking lot, and a 1.5-kilometer elevated path for pedestrians and cyclists. This urban byway will provide access to both Parque del Arte and 1,200 overflow parking spaces at the state government’s new offices on Vía Atlixcáyotl.
—Rebecca Smith Hurd
The Estrella de Puebla is located on the access road to Angelopolis between Niño Poblano and Vía Atlixcáyotl boulevards. (To get to the site by bus, take any route that drops passengers at Angelopolis, La Isla, or Plaza Milenium shopping malls.) Daily operating hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays), starting July 29.
Post updated July 24, 2013.