¡Viva México!

IMG_0260 Photo: James Oles

In my book First Stop in the New World, I described the chile en nogada as "a green poblano pepper, blistered and skinned over a direct flame and lion-tamed by the removal of its seeds and veins. It is stuffed with a mincemeat mixture that includes (among many ingredients) pork, onions, cumin, cinnamon and acitrón, a dried and candied cactus. The stuffed green pepper, most frequently served at room temperature, is topped with a creamy white walnut sauce and red pomegranate seeds. Thus dished up, it encompasses the colors of the Mexican flag."

Pomegranate season -- late summer, early fall -- is when you can most reliably get chiles en nogada in Mexico, although some restaurants, like the Hostería de Santo Domingo (at calle Belisario Domínguez #70 in the centro histórico), serve them all year long. The one pictured above was recently devoured at a luncheonette called Fonda Mi Lupita (Calle Buen Tono 22, near the corner of Delicias), also in the centro histórico. Fonda Mi Lupita only serves chiles en nogada on three days of the year, during the last week of August. Such is the reputation of the eatery's chiles that some people have those dates permanently marked in their calendars, if not tattooed on their bodies.

Some of my Mexican friends might consider what I am about to say sacrilegious, but I have never been very fond of mixing the sweet and the savory, so chiles en nogada are not high on my list of meals to look forward to. However, during the rest of the year, at Fonda Mi Lupita you can get an outstanding mole -- either served on top of chicken enchiladas, or liberally ladled over a quarter of a chicken. If you like mole you don't want to miss it. 

In any case, the eve of Mexico's Independence Day, September 15, seemed like a good day to post about all this. As they cry out in every public square in the country at 11 o'clock on that date, "!Viva México!"