San Juan de Dios

San Juan de Dios

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Mole!

There are a wide variety of sauces in Mexico which are referred to as "moles".  They include "black mole", "red mole", "green mole", "almond mole", "mole poblano" (perhaps the most famous)... and the list goes on and on.  Most of these sauces are very complex with a large number of ingredients including chocolate in many of them.

My favorite place for "mole" has long been the restaurant "Angelopolitano" which serves not only the traditional "mole poblano" but also a number of fruit "moles".

Prior to this trip, I was reading the Mexico City Forum on TripAdvisor.  Someone asked for recommendations for places with the best "mole".  I, of course, recommended "Angelopolitano", but someone mentioned a place that I had never heard of... "Fonda Mi Lupita".  I searched for it on Google Maps, and the reviews were very good.  I wanted to try it out.

The restaurant is hidden away on Delicias Street in a part of the "Centro Histórico" that is off the beaten track for most tourists.


It is, however, just a couple blocks away from the San Juan Handicrafts Market.  So, after a visit to that market last week, I decided to look for the restaurant and try out their "mole".

It is truly a hole-in-the-wall.  I wasn't 100% sure that I had the right place, since there is not even a sign giving the name of the restaurant.  

There were a couple tables outside on the street, and I sat down at one.  The waitress brought out the menu, and, yes, it bore the name "Fonda Mi Lupita".   

Their "mole" is called "mole nupcial" (wedding "mole"), and it is based on two recipes from villages in the State of Mexico.  "Mole" is basically all there is on the menu.  You can have enchiladas with "mole", a chicken "torta" with "mole", or just "mole" ladled over chicken. 

I ordered the enchiladas.  About half-way through my meal, the waitress came out and asked me if I wanted more "mole".  I said "Sí", and she took my plate and poured another ladle of sauce over my remaining enchiladas.


  (The color in this photo is strange because I was seated under an orange awning.)

The enchiladas were served with rice and beans.  To drink, I had a beverage called "pinole", something that I had never tasted before.  It was quite good, sweet and milky.  I am surprised that I liked it.  I researched "pinole" later and discovered that it is made from ground corn.  It sounded very much like "atole", a corn beverage that I do not care for.

So, how was the "mole" at "Fonda Mi Lupita"?  It was very good.  It has not replaced "Angelopolitano" in my estimation, but the "mole" here was far better than what I have had in a number of fancier restaurants.  I would definitely return here! 

Street Art and Street Food

After visiting the Masayoshi Ohira Park, I walked back to the Metro station from which I had come.  It is on Calzada Tlalpan, one of the major north-south thoroughfares.  What a contrast between the tranquility of the park and this busy, eight-lane avenue!


Calzada Tlalpan follows the route of one of the three causeways which once connected the Aztec's island capital of Tenochtitlan with the shores of Lake Texcoco.  It was along this causeway that the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his army marched into Tenochtitlan in 1519.  The lake is long-gone, and this avenue now connects the Historic Center of the city with the "delegación" (borough) of Tlalpan on the far south side of the city.


If you want to cross this broad avenue, you need to use one of the pedestrian bridges.

Line 2 of the Metro (which is above ground here) runs in the middle of Calzada Tlalpan along the route where the former streetcar used to travel.


When I took the Metro, I had noticed that there were mural paintings at each of the stations.  So, after visiting the park, I decided that I would get some exercise and walk back part of the way.  The avenue is by no means one of the city's beauty spots, but I could take pictures of the street art.  When I got tired (or weary of all the traffic noise), I could always hop back on the Metro at one of the stations. 

All of the paintings at the Metro stations on this route were portraits of women.















Along any major street in Mexico City you will find stalls selling street food, and Calzada Tlapan is no exception.  The concentration of food stand increases as you near an entrance to a Metro station.

"Tacos de canasta" (basket tacos) are a particularly greasy, not very healthy, kind of taco that get their name from the fact that they are transported in and sold from large baskets.





This stand is selling juices and "licuados" (a blended beverage similar to a smoothie).



At this booth you can buy "caldo de gallina" (literally "hen's broth"), a type of chicken soup.



This stand sells giant "tortas", the tasty Mexican sandwiches on baguette-like rolls.  "Hamburgo" (the name in Spanish for the German city of Hamburg) is simply the name of this stand.  They do not sell hamburgers.



This restaurant was featuring for a limited time "cemitas de chile en nogada".  "Cemitas" are another kind of sandwich and, as I have written many times before, "chiles en nogada" are stuffed peppers with walnut sauce.  I like "cemitas" and I love "chiles en nogada", but somehow the idea of a "chile en nogada" sandwich does not appeal to me.





After walking about 3.5 miles I came to the Xola Metro Station... which is just a block away from the Xola Metrobus Station.  From there I could take the Metrobus all the way back to my neighborhood.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Japan in Mexico City

I am always looking at Google Maps, searching for places in Mexico City that I have not yet visited.  One place I recently found was Parque Masayoshi Ohira, which is described as a "small park with Japanese-style garden elements".  It is located just a couple blocks away from a Metro station, so I got on the subway and went to see it.  


I was curious who Masayoshi Ohira was, and why he had a park in Mexico City named after him.  I did some research and discovered that he was the Prime Minister of Japan from 1978 until his death in 1980 and that he was the first Japanese head of government to visit Mexico.  An existing park, called Pagoda Park, was renamed after him.  (The pagoda structure had burned down years ago, but there was still an Asian style bridge.)  A number of Japanese features, including a couple of torrii gates were added.  The park fell into decline but was spruced up in 2015.  Ohira's grandson was present for the rededication.

The park is certainly not anywhere near the top of the list of places for the tourist in Mexico City to visit, but it was a tranquil, pleasant spot. 




 



 


For Future Reference

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that I enjoy landscape painting... even if the only painting I do during an entire year is the one for my annual Christmas card.  And you know that I plan to move to Mexico City, hopefully within the next year.  Without having a big garden taking up so much of my time, perhaps I will to do more painting again.  Since the apartment I intend to buy is completely furnished, I will not need to have a moving company move a lot of stuff.  But one thing that I will want down here is my easel.  If I get rid of some of the owner's exercise equipment in the third bedroom I should have a space to do my painting.

I recently paid another visit to one of my favorite museums in Mexico City, the Museum of Popular Art.  When I left the museum and headed down Independencia Avenue, I passed this store about a block from the museum.


"La Casa de Arte" (The House of Art) is an art supply store.  I didn't go inside, but I looked in the window.  I think I will be able to find anything I would need here.  However, before I make the final move, I should go inside and see how the prices compare to those back home.

Monday, August 29, 2022

The Beaded Beetle

The Huichol tribe of western Mexico is famous for incredible works of art made from colored beads.  A fantastic example of their skill is inside the entrance to the Museum of Popular Arts in Mexico City... a Volkswagen beetle covered in beads.


I have probably posted a photo of this VW previously, but on my latest visit I noticed a couple of signs with data on its creation and history.  So I thought I would share some of that information with you, and post some more photos of the intricate, traditional designs that cover this car.


This 1990 "vocho" (the term Mexicans use for the VW beetle) was decorated in 2010 in honor of Mexico's bicentennial by eight members of the Huichol tribe from the states of Jalisco and Nayarit.  It took seven months, and 38,080 work hours to complete the project.  2,277,000 glass beads, weighing 396 pounds, were used. 




This beetle has traveled the world.  In 2012 it was displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  It has been exhibited throughout Mexico and the U.S. and in Paris, London, Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, Madrid, Brussels, Beijing, and the VW headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.   Since June of 2017 it has been on permanent display here in the Museum of Popular Arts.

In Miniature

Mexico has a long tradition of craftsmen who specialize in creating miniatures.  Currently the Museum of Popular Arts has a special exhibition displaying this special art form.


Here are some examples from the exhibit.  Keep in mind that these items are tiny, but show amazing detail.


Musical instruments



A marimba made from pieces of amber



Musicians



Miniature nativity scenes
You often see these in the handicraft markets, and I have bought a number of them as gifts.



A lacquerware box



A tiny copper kettle



A miniature cockfight scene



A "jaripeo" (bull riding contest) complete with a village-full of spectators



An intricately carved piece of cow bone



A "molcajete" - the stone mortar and pestle used in grinding salsas



A replica of a mask used in folk dances
This is no bigger than my thumbnail.



Miniature pieces of pottery


The last showcase featured works by a miniaturist by the name of Yosafat Delgado Mandujano.  These are typical things that you would see on a Mexico City street.  They are somewhat larger than most of the other objects in the exhibit, but the attention to detail is fantastic.


A taco vendor's bicycle leaning against a street sign



A street food stand selling "tortas", a typical Mexican sandwich
On the counter you can see a "torta", some empty plates and used napkins.
Not all the trash made it to the garbage can.
Signs on the windows list the different kinds of "tortas" and prices.



A shoe shine stand complete with tiny tins and bottles of polish and advertising on the awning.


Sunday, August 28, 2022

No, I Didn't Run

 

Poster in one of the Mexico City subway stations advertising this year's Marathon  

"Es más que una carrera"... "It is more than a race."


Since 1983 the Mexico City Marathon has been held in late August or early September.  It is considered one of the world's most difficult marathons because of the city's altitude and pollution.  However, it is also considered one of the most beautiful courses since the route passes many of the city's landmarks.  This year's race was held today.

In past years, when going out for Sunday breakfast at one of restaurants near my apartment, I have occasionally seen the participants running down Insurgentes Avenue.  The route used to begin at the Zócalo, the main plaza in the heart of the old city, and end at the Olympic Stadium along the southern stretch of Insurgentes Avenue.  However, this year the course was reversed, beginning at the Olympic Stadium and ending at the Zócalo.  So the runners had already passed this part of Insurgentes by the time Alejandro and I went out for  breakfast.  In fact, while we were eating, the TV in the restaurant was showing the presentation of medals.  The top three places in the men's event all went to participants from Kenya.  I later looked up the results for the women's event, and the top three were athletes  from Ethiopia, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Street Performer

On busy Mexico City avenues it is not unusual to see performers come out into the street while traffic is stopped at a red light.  Before the light turns green they go around for tips from the waiting motorists.  Thank goodness it's been a long time since I have seen fire breathers doing their hazardous act.  Now it is jugglers who are most commonly seen on the streets.  As I was walking along Insurgentes Avenue I saw this juggler who was particularly good. 

 


I wanted to give him a tip, but when the light turned green he went over to the other side of the street.  I waited for the light to turn red again.  I crossed the avenue as he headed out to perform again, and I gave him a ten peso coin. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Now at the Palace of Iturbide

Since 2004 the colonial mansion known as the Palace of Iturbide in Mexico City's historic center has served as a cultural center of Banamex (the National Bank of Mexico).  Each year they have several free art exhibits in the palace, and I have written about quite a few of them here on this blog.  

I make it a point on each trip to Mexico City to see if there is a new exhibit in the palace.  At this time they are showing 17th and 18th century religious paintings selected from the collection of the Church of La Profesa just down the street from the palace.  Quite frankly, I do not find religious art from the colonial era to be that interesting.  Nevertheless, I went inside to see the exhibit.  Two of the most famous painters from colonial Mexico are well represented... Cristóbal de Villalpando and Miguel Cabrera.


A number of these paintings have been recently cleaned and restored so their colors were bright, instead of the dark, dreary tones that I associate with old paintings hanging in churches.

Here are a few of the works in the exhibit...


"St. Theresa Receiving the Veil and the Necklace from the Virgin and St. Joseph"
by Cristóbal Villalpando
circa 1680 - 1690



"Jesus in the Court of Herod"
attributed to Miguel Cabrera
circa 1748 -1753




"The Virgin of the Stairs"
by Cristóbal Villalpando
circa 1680 - 1690



"The Death of St. Francis Xavier"
by Gaspar Conrado
circa 1648 - 1653



"The Wedding of the Virgin" and "The Annunciation"
by Miguel Cabrera
circa 1740 -1750


"Flight to Egypt"
by Nicolás Rodriguéz Juárez
circa 1690 - 1700



"St. Peter and St. Paul"
by Cristóbal Villalpando
circa 1700 - 1714



"Prayer in the Garden"
by Miguel Cabrera
1761