Cascade Park

Cascade Park

Monday, April 22, 2019

Another Holy Week Festival

On the day before Easter, Alejandro and I, accompanied by his friend Pancho, went to another festival that is held during Holy Week.  Visitors to Mexico City might find it hard to believe, but there are areas within the city limits which are rural.  In the southern part of the city, in the "delegación" (borough) of Xochimilco is the village of Santiago Tulyehualco. There for the last 134 years they have celebrated during Holy Week the Fair of "Nieve".

"Nieve" (which literally means snow) is a water-based variation of ice cream.  It dates to pre-Hispanic times when ice from the peaks of the volcanoes would be brought down and flavored with honey or sweet syrup.  Xochimilco was the center for the production of this delicacy, and it was reserved for priests and nobles.

The main tent of the fair is lined with vendors of artesanal "nieve".

The traditional method of making "nieve" is similar to our old-fashioned ice cream makers.

Ice and salt are placed in a large, wooden bucket.  The ingredients for the "nieve" are placed in a metal pot.  The pot is rotated within the bucket and the ingredients stirred until they have congealed into "nieve".

The variety of flavors offered is mind-boggling.  

Many of the flavors such as chocolate, strawberry, pineapple seem fairly conventional.  Others are tropical fruits such as "mamey", "maracuya" or "zapote" that are not well known north of the border.  Some "nieves" are flavored with tequila, Kahlua or even beer.

Many of the names of the flavors are extremely fanciful.  One has to wonder just what the heck are a "rabid dog", a "crazy penguin", "Pikachu" or "Viagra"!

Then there are exotic flavors, some of which sound downright disgusting!

I would be willing to try "rose petals".  I love avocados and "mole", but I don't want them in my "nieve".  And I definitely don't want rattlesnake.  (Yes, the "nieve" is actually flavored with snake meat!")  Nor do I want shrimp, octopus or oyster!

At the far end of the tent there was a stage where couples were dancing "danzón", a Cuban dance which came to Mexico by way of the Yucatán.

On a much more somber note... Santiago Tulyehualco suffered heavy damage in the 2017 earthquake.  The parish church, which was built in the 17th century, is still closed.

The cracks by the entrance and in the bell tower are clearly visible.

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