Y Don Miguel Hidalgo, ¿qué comía?

And Don Miguel Hidalgo, what did he eat?

Donzabor Mèxico

At this time we are all fine-tuning the last details for the national holidays; On Mexican nights, there are many dishes that represent the colors of the flag, but we will tell you which were the ones that really fed the Mexican people at that time.

We celebrate our independence every September with one of our favorite dishes: Chiles en Nogada. However, this dish was born a few years after the cry of Independence.

The kitchen of the independence fighters

While the armed revolt against the kingdom of Spain was taking shape, Mexican kitchens were divided into three universes: the kitchen of the palace, that of the convent, and the popular cuisine of the streets and fields.

The mix of indigenous and Spanish ingredients and traditions and some Arab and Moorish flavors gave rise to Mexican cuisine: although European dishes reigned in the noble houses, salty Mexican dishes, such as mole, were gradually introduced, which were created in religious precincts.

In the most humble homes, the dishes that predominated were, although delicious, simple; Guillermo Prieto tells in his book “Memorias de mi tiempo” that when they woke up “a succulent chocolate in water or milk awaited them, without the atoles, such as the champurrado, the antón parado, the chili atole or the simple white atole accompanied by panocha amelcochada or acitrón”.

Thus he continues narrating the meals of the day, which were various, from broths and noodle soups with squeezed lemon and chili (which continue to be used daily), moles of all kinds, egg omelettes, among legumes and vegetables.

In the convent

On the other hand, as Salvador Castro Mendoza narrates in the text “Gastronomia novohispana”, the viceregal crown encouraged culinary experimentation in the convents, since “eating well was not described as against nature and the recipe literature was not faced any censorship.” So then, the kitchens of the church overflowed with flavors, aromas and very special creations; so much so that many of the dishes that are now a Mexican tradition were born in the convents.

It is well known that the father of independence, the priest Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, was a good eater, and before being shot, he even asked for sweets that he had kept under his pillow. Castro goes on to say that when the liberator arrived at the prison where he was detained before his death, “he was received with a cup of chocolate. In that captivity he offered to the independence prisoners: chocolate with bread in the morning, at noon pot rice soup and principle; at five in the afternoon, for dinner, temole, roast lamb and beans”.

Tradition and representation

Just as chili (of any kind), corn and beans represent our gastronomy in the rest of the world, chocolate has an equally important place. All of them have been around for hundreds of years, and they are products that have given infinite culinary riches to our country and so many others, in addition to the fact that they even complement each other in combination.

However, one of these two elements is no longer as accessible as it once was. While chiles, for example, continue to exist in a common way in markets and supermarkets, cocoa, for many, is a luxury.

“(Chocolate) was the most universal, democratic and absolute culinary element that Mexico contributed to the world.In the Colony it was the drink that represented unity, accepted, adorned and shared by all castes and social groups, the line of historical continuity from the indigenous to the Creole miscegenation and the Spanish; versatile that prepared with water, with corn, with chili, allowed to be mixed with milk and came to champurrado And sugared cocoa, even mixed in water, an Italian traveler turned it into cioccolate, to make this drink in the middle of the 17th century the sweetest addiction. Drinks and meals were made with chocolate, the most famous being the turkey mole poblano”, explains Castro Mendoza.

And the chiles en nogada?

It is not known for sure, however, the most common legend is that they were created by the Augustinian nuns of the convent of Santa Mónica in Puebla to celebrate both the recent Independence of Mexico and the saint of Agustín de Iturbide, that although in a very different way from the independentistas, it finalized the separation of the country in alliance with other insurgent leaders.

Nothing compares to the flavor of this dish; In addition, it is difficult to get its ingredients out of season (unless you look for them in Don Zabor), but the truth is that despite being a national delicacy, it is more appropriate to celebrate the cry that began independence with a good mole, a chocolate with bread or some pot beans, and be grateful and proud of our gastronomic heritage.

As Don Miguel Hidalgo rightly said, in gratitude to his jailers, Ortega y Melchor, for having shared his food with him, before he was shot on July 30, 1811:

“Ortega, your fine breeding/

your kind nature and style/

will always make you worthy/

even with the pilgrim people.

“He has divine protection/

the mercy you have exercised/

with a poor underdog/

he's going to die tomorrow/

and cannot repay/

no favor received.

“You give consolation to the helpless/

As soon as you're allowed, you split dessert with him/

and grateful Miguel/

He thanks you exhausted.”

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