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A book, a meal and a place – COAHUILA, MEXICO

20th June 2020

A book, a meal and and a place – Coahuila, Mexico.

Here at TripFiction we love to bring you books with a strong sense of place, to help you see a destination through an author’s eyes. Well, we also love to tell you about food around the world and – thanks to the gastro genre in our bulging database – it’s easy to match a book with a place and its food.

Next up in this mouthwatering new series….COAHUILA in MEXICO.

THE BOOK –  by Laura Esquivel

Like Water For ChocolateComo agua para chocolate – is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit – and recipes.

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her.

For the next twenty-two years Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

The book is divided into 12 sections named after the months of the year, starting in January and ending in December. Each section begins with a Mexican recipe. The chapters connect each dish to an event in the protagonist’s life.

THE FOOD 

As in other northern Mexican states, Coahuila’s dishes consist of beef, veal, lamb or goat. Tacos, marinated flank meat, beef jerky, fritadas (goat in its juice) and machaca (beef jerky with scrambled eggs) are among the most popular ones.

Here is some more flesh on the bone of some of the region’s traditional dishes:

  • cabrito al horno – baked goat
  • flor de palma – literally ‘palm flower’, although the flowers usually come from the Izote yucca and are presented in a type of torta made of beaten eggs and tomato sauce
  • cajeta de membrillo and cajeta de perón — traditional cajetas are typically gelatin-based desserts congealed in a round box four or five inches across, made of thin wood slivers. Membrillo is quince, and perón is a pearlike fruit
  • jamoncillos de piñón — finely ground pine-nuts prepared with milk and sugar

THE DISH – Machaca con Huevo (Machaca with eggs)

One of the most common dishes of the Coahuila region – dried, salted beef that is rehydrated, lightly roasted over fire, soaked in water to remove the salt and to soften, then pounded to pieces, traditionally over a mesquite trunk, by a mesquite pole. Then it’s put in water again to get out more salt, and finally squeezed and fried in a skillet. A salsa is made with onion, chili, tomato and oregano, the salsa is mixed into the fried beef and the whole thing is cooked for about five minutes. Most people expect to eat this with wheat tortillas, beans and coffee.

Fancy trying the dish? Here’s a great recipe from Muy Bueno Cookbook

 

THE PLACE – CoahuilaCoahuila de Zaragoza in full  estado (state), northern Mexico, is bounded by Texas in the United States to the north and northeast and by the Mexican states of Nuevo León to the east, San Luis Potosí and Zacatecas to the south, and Durango and Chihuahua to the west. Saltillo is the state capital.

The state straddles the Sierra Madre Oriental from the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte) to Torreón in the southwest. Most settlements are in the cool, moist highlands in the eastern part of the state, including the capital city. Western Coahuila is mostly desert. One of the state’s most scenic areas is Balneario de los Novillos National Park, in the northeast.

Balneario de los Novillos National Park

The first Spanish settlement in the region was established at Saltillo in 1575, when the area formed part of Nueva Vizcaya province.

Irrigation has allowed the development of agriculture in the west; however, water shortages in many of the irrigation projects have reduced output. The main products are cotton and grapes and other fruits. Corn (maize), wheat, and beans are also grown. Southern Coahuila has long been celebrated for its wines and brandies.

In addition to Saltillo and Torreón, principal towns in the state of Coahuila include the rail hub of Parras de la Fuente and the centres of Ciudad Acuña and Piedras Negras, which are across the Rio Grande from the Texas cities of Del Rio and Eagle Pass.

Check out the Top 9 Things to See and Do in Coahula via The Culture Trip

We hope that has whetted your literary and foodie appetites, and transported you to fascinating Coahuila in Mexico. Where would like us to take you next for a book and a meal….? Let us know in the comments below!

Andrew for the TripFiction team

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