Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the road with Aromas y Sabores

I recently had the pleasure of participating in La Ruta de Aromas y Sabores del Bicentenario 2010, a ten day tour of Mexico City, State of Mexico, Queretaro, Guanajuato and Michoacán sponsored by CANIRAC as well as many private concerns. Over a hundred chefs, journalists and sundry food professionals were invited, all expenses paid, by the indefatigable chef and cookbook author Patricia Quintana to tour the country and get to know its gastronomic riches. The goal? To spread the word that Mexico is a good place for ‘culinary tourism’. But we know that already. Most of the group was Mexican, a handful Spanish and South American, only one lone American who turned out to be the amazing Betty Harper Fussell, age 82 and author of innumerable cook and food books. I was not able to stay the entire exhaustive ten days, but hopped the bus at 6:30 AM in front of the formerly bohemian Hotel Géneve in the Zona Rosa where we were shlepped through Estado de México to Santiago Tianguistenco to visit its Tuesday tianguis, to downtown Toluca to see a lovely former market building now housing a rather unimpressive botanic garden, to an amazing charreada at a gorgeous out-of-the-movies rancho, to a comida of regional fare at a huge hacienda and to various ceremonies of ‘bienvenidos’ usually attended to by local mayors whose name tended to be ‘Nieto’. After 3 more hours in the bus we were deposited in a hotel somewhere in Querétaro, sometime after midnight. That was day one. The bus was leaving next morning at 7:30 sharp for more haciendas, tastings, vineyards and charros. And there were eight more days on the road. Best part of it for me as a food writer was making connections. Besides Mme. Fussell, I dined with a fun gaggle of Madrileños (they loved the tacos de nata but hated the café de olla as it was too sweet). I chatted with a couple of Peruvian chefs who were amazed at the variety in the market. I exchanged cards with an ex-Chilanga from L.A. who has published a book of colonial period recipes. A couple of sexy charros took my email in their iphone while their horses patiently stood by, to notify me of future charreadas. The food was good, the Queretano wine was so-so, its cheese great. I ate and ate and ate. And didn't sleep until I got home.

Pictures are better than words so see the photos and videos that follow: The author with Patricia Quintana

La Quintana shops at the San Juan market, Mexico City

San Juan Market, D.F.

The Charreada video; click to watch

At the charreada, Rancho Buena Vista, State of Mexico

At the charreada

The sexy charros

Demonstrating local chorizos, market, Santiago Tianguistenco, State of Mexico

Smoked fish lady, market, Santiago Tianguistenco, State of Mexico

Ms. Quintana samples mole, market, Santiango Tianguistenco

Breakfast in San Juan del Rio

Mexican sweets sampler, Toluca

Restaurant critic Blanca Hipola and friend, both Madrileños, are interviewed by "The Sexy Gourmet"

Declawing nopales, San Juan del Rio

Culinary tour leader Ruth Alegria (
recording the procedings

A model at the rebozo fashion show, Toluca. Don't know if I'll try this.

A Queretano pipian made with hazelnuts.

A vineyard in Queretaro

A display of local products at Hacienda La Venta, Queretaro


  1. What an amazing group and its indefatigable leader, Patricia Quintana! Truth be told I was exhausted by just 2 days of the Mexico City leg of the journey, can't imagine doing 10 days of non-stop travel and EATING!
    But if there is a next time sign me up. Maybe we should start training now.

  2. "A couple of sexy charros took my email in their iphone while their horses patiently stood by, to notify me of future charreadas"

    Could you let us know what you heard from them? Do they do private or intimate charreadas? Is there a blog about sexy charros and other sexy Mexicans? Giva boy some details and direction here


  3. Haven't heard from them yet; awaiting breathlessly. They are brothers and I assume they work well together. I don't know of any blogs about sexy charros, mariachis. etc, I think there is a real opportunity here.