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Traduttore, traditore! as Italians usually say holds true for the next lines. Language, words, phrases are more than just sounds/letters with a fixed meaning. Linguists and psychologists among other professionals have already provided some insights on how language works and provides purpose and meaning at the individual level as well as how it characterizes a group of people or a society as a whole.
And we need to talk about love. Some people say you can only love what you really know. And now there’s news to you: Puerto Vallarta is in the state of Jalisco and Jalisco is one of the 30 states that are part of Mexico. You cannot say you love Vallarta unless you really know Mexico. So maybe it’s fair to say that you like the area, the nice beaches, the hot bodies and the great climate.
But now let’s talk about food. And food in Mexico is more than just cooking. I will not be a traditore, and that means I will not translate several words on purpose, because only when you know the emotion and meaning that these words have for a Mexican then you can understand the culture. So, why do we call them nopalitos and not nopales? Would you like to have more tortillitas? instead of saying tortillas. Why do Mexicans insist on calling people, things and food in diminutive? Let me share this with you, for Mexicans, preparing food for your family, friends or guests or a fiesta is an act of caring and love. If you’ve had the chance of travelling throughout the country you may have already realized that cooking traditional food is something that is done usually by only one or two persons in the house, because no matter how simple it may look a taco de frijoles with a chile serrano, you can be sure that whoever made that for you, did it with lots of care and love. Those flavors are kept forever in our minds and the only act of recalling how your abuelita cooked those eggs in the mornings will bring all the flavors and happiness it brought to your life when you saw her cooking.
It is no surprise to anybody that these flavors of traditional food in Mexico are not to be found in a fancy restaurant. The traditional food and the food served in restaurants serve different purposes, being the latest a place to create a memorable experience, where even the clothing waiters wear are part of a performance. This is not to say that one shouldn’t be attending a nice restaurant, we all like to do that. But just don’t expect people there to understand the meaning, many times religious meaning that traditional food has. And if they tell you something, keep in mind this just may be a story made up to please the tourists.
You can be sure that travelling to states like Michoacan, Guerrero, Morelos, Veracruz, Puebla and Oaxaca, will bring you the experience of learning about the cultures (yes cultures in plural, Mexico is a multicultural country with a good number of ethnic groups that have great differences among them). It is in those places that you will have the chance of trying Mexican food that is truly traditional. A hand-made corn tortilla is a thousand times more tasty than the ones you get from a tortilleria, where they are cooked with powder instead of the traditional nixtamal. Traditional food does not use fancy stainless steel utensils, instead it uses ollas de barro, wooden spoons, comales, a wooden press for preparing the tortillas, anafres, metates, molcajetes, etc.
Unfortunately, the very brief history of Bahia de Banderas and its limited interaction with other regions of the country are some of the reasons for not finding true traditional dishes in Vallarta and that many ingredients cannot be found easily here. Just to provide an example, the eldest people in the region have never really prepared a good salsa using a molcajete. At this point you may think you know the molcajetes as you’ve been served your guacamole in those; sorry to say this but the guacamole is not as popular in the country as you have been led to think.
We invite you to love this country and its traditional food. Rest assured that the country will love you back in return.
We would like to say Hi! if you ever come to the Pitillal area, most likely you will find us talking about Mexico and food, because a good Mexican is tragon, we really eat a lot. But who can blame us for liking so much this delicious and natural food?
You can find us at: Abasolo 203 A, Pitillal Centro
Facebook: Molli-Sabor Mexicano