Saturday, December 14, 2013

El-o-o-o-o-o-te on the Plaza Grande

Corn is a staple of the Americas, where the appellation refers to maize or Indian corn. Elote, or fresh sweet corn is part of the tradition of gatherings on the plazas of Mexico. Maís refers to the plant or crop and to dried corn such as is ground to make tortillas.

Roasted or boiled, elote is a popular snack. On the cob it is often slathered with mayonnaise, sprinkled with grated cheese and then spiced up with powdered chile. The kernels are also sliced off the cob and eaten from a plastic glass with a spoon, seasoned to the individual's taste.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Avocado Gazapacho

This may be my favorite of all of my posts. Here is a recipe that I made up for an Avocado Gazpacho. My amigos mexicanos and extranjeros alike have given it unreserved approval. Since avocados are the Green Gold of Michoacán, I share the recipe with Patzcuaro aficionados here.

 © 2009
From Tracy Novinger’s Kitchen

Avocado Gazpacho©

Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 large or 3 small, perfectly ripe avocadoes (remove skin and stone)
1/3 to ½ serrano chili, deveined and deseeded
1-2 heaping tablespoons chopped yellow onion or green onion
1 clove garlic, peeled, coarsely chopped
2 cups chilled, defatted chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon salt
Small bunch fresh cilantro (approx. 1/2 cup coarsely chopped)
¼ cup coarsely chopped mint
Juice of 1 lime
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, cut into small chunks.
½ cup unsweetened natural yogurt

Roughly chop chili, onion and garlic; put them in blender with the broth and avocado meat and process thoroughly on high speed until smooth. Add cilantro, mint, lime juice and salt. Pulse briefly to chop; do not over-process. Add cucumber. Pulse to very coarsely chop. Do not over-process. Taste and adjust seasoning (lime, salt). Chill well. Will keep overnight in refrigerator.

Serve chilled. Top each bowl with dollop of yogurt. Garnish with a cilantro leaf, a mint leaf and ½ of a paper thin round of cucumber.

  • Serve with a slice of whole wheat bread sprinkled with parmesan and browned under a broiler.
  • Serve with cold or grilled shrimp for a full meal.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Squash Blossom Soup

Flor de Calabaza
The following soup is delicious, very light and delicate. It is the family recipe of a good Mexican friend. Quantities are not precise, but you should have no difficulty. This recipe is a treasure. You may want to experiment during Patzcuaro's rainy season with all of the fresh mushrooms to be found at the market at Plaza Chica.

Squash Blossom Soup

2 liters chicken broth
Olive oil
1 medium onion
4 garlic cloves
Squash blossoms

Slice onion very thin.
Dice garlic.
Sauté in olive oil until transparent.
Add 2 liters of chicken broth.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes
Strain broth
Add sliced mushrooms (oyster type) and whole stems (2-3 large handfuls).
Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add (2-3 large handfuls) squash blossoms torn into 3 or four pieces (without stems).
Add ½ bunch epazote.
Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove mushroom stems and epazote.
Serve hot.

Squash blossoms and mushrooms: Estimate quantities to your taste. Be generous.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Breakfast Serenade

Sunday breakfast at La Surtidora: A plate of sweet, fresh tropical fruit from the Tierra Caliente, an omelette of mushrooms and squash blossoms, dark roast hot coffee and is good.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Special Butterflies

The new Museo de las Comunidades Mexicanas en el Extranjero (Padre Lloreda No. 50, Patzcuaro) presented a traveling exhibit, art by Mexican women living outside Mexico, the "Mariposas Migrantes." Visit pintoras.mexicanas on Facebook.

The exhibit was a visual feast of vibrant color.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Patzcuaro Summer Rains

Grey clouds slide in
To blanket the sun.
With bluster they thicken,
They threaten.
They pour their torrents of rain onto
Cobbled streets that run full.
The earth drinks in
This daily performance.
The season is cool and green,
Adorned with lush, bright blossoms.
Welcome rain.

Patzcuareando: Peripatetic in Patzcuaro: Rain Concert
Patzcuareando: Peripatetic in Patzcuaro: Rain...
Patzcuareando: Peripatetic in Patzcuaro: The rains have passed…

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Batty over Bats

Using easy round numbers, there are approximately 4,000 mammal species in the world and bat species constitute close to 1,000 of them. Bats are especially important in arid and semi-arid climates that have night-blooming flowers. These plants depend on bats for pollination.

See Bat Conservation International.

Jennifer J. W. Vann and Rocío Diaz M. are working on bat conservation as well as agave and mezcal projects in Michoacán and plan to produce a documentary. Visit them at 

It is exciting to see this project. Bats are varied and interesting, but often maligned in folklore and people's beliefs.

Mediterranean horseshoe bat

Look at this cute guy.

Get batty!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Artisans of Michoacan

©Florence Leyret Jeune

Michoacan is known for the quality, the whimsy and the variety of its artisans. For a visual treat visit Florence Leyret Jeune's outstanding photographic essay.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

We like to eat...

Did I mention that we like to eat? We have been well-served with culinary adventures and opportunities. I like to try new places, new dishes--and I like to go to back to certain places for a favorite item.  I regularly have a yen for the tasty, fresh shrimp brochettes at La Güera, at the top of Avenida Federico Tena at the Libramiento.

Friday, April 19, 2013

I Still Want One

In case you didn't see this: Just think, Erongarícuaro would just be a hop, skip and jump across the lake from Pátzcuaro.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Safety in Patzcuaro, Mexico

The date on this post "slipped"--oops--so I am reposting it.

From time to time someone inquires about personal safety in Pátzcuaro. In an online Michoacan forum, a resident of nearby Santa Clara posted a succinct commentary that, in my opinion, reflects the general attitude of expatriates living full- or part-time in this area. With permission, I publish John Powell’s summary below.
Opinion on Mexico safety. I lived in Guanajuato in 2004-2005. Then moved to Santa Clara del Cobre 2005-2007. December 2007 I returned to the US. Then moved back October 8, 2010. I live in Santa Clara del Cobre now, love it, love the people, love the sense of history, love the architecture, love the sense of pride people have of being Mexicans and have no plans to leave. So, in my opinion.....
(1) The border towns should be avoided.
(2) Don't associate with people who buy/sell drugs.
(3) Don't go to bars into the wee hours
(4) Don't go to "bad" neighborhoods
(5) Don't engage in "risky" behaviors (you know what they are, right? Don't do in Mexico what you wouldn't do in downtown central city Buffalo.)
(6) The conflict is typically between the police, Federales, military and "bad guys". The fight is mostly between those groups. They surely have had well publicized shootings. None target expats. None target visitors/tourists. I suppose there's always a chance of a stray bullet or some other horror, but it's a pretty slim chance.
(7) There are always criminales....relatively small time. If you have troubles at all it would more likely be from them than the really bad cartel guys. Mostly property theft or damage.
(8) MSM (mainstream media) in the US has been nothing less than relentless on reporting all the gory bloody details. Fortunately for our US friends the media doesn't report US crime nearly as colorfully and vividly. Just because they don't report it in the same way does not mean it isn't happening. It is.
(9) Leave the expensive jewelry at home. Don't flash wads of cash. Don't make yourself a target, just as you wouldn't in the US.

Mexico's interior, IMO, is just fine thanks. I'm not concerned whatever about going to concerts, movies, art openings/shows, restaurants or a walk in the zocalo most anywhere. I confess I'm back home before 10 pm most of the time. I do drive at night (against all advisories) but have never had troubles.
John PowellSanta Clara, Michoacan, Mexico
Note – A number of people whom I know do avoid driving at night for a number of reasons, or else they make careful choices about where and when.
Come to Patzcuaro.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Patzcuaro Perambulator

What would you like to buy from this amazing vendor? Strolling by houses… better than Walmart.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A Garden of Delights

Entering a friend’s walled garden in an historic building in Pátzcuaro is to step into a work of art created to delight all the senses. What a rare privilege. To quote Charles Baudelaire,
Là, tout n'est qu'ordre et beauté,
Luxe, calme et volupté.
A step into an oasis of order, beauty, luxury, calm and voluptuousity.