La Leyenda de Popocatépetl e Iztaccíhuatl



In English

La vista que engalana a la ciudad más grande del mundo: la Ciudad de México, está realzada por la majestuosidad de dos de los volcanes más altos del hemisferio, se trata del Popocatépetl y del Iztaccíhuatl.

La presencia milenaria de estos enormes volcanes ha sido de gran importancia en las diferentes sociedades que los han admirado y venerado, siendo fuente de inspiración de múltiples leyendas sobre su origen y creación. Entre ellas las más conocidas son dos que a continuación relataremos.

Hace ya miles de años, cuando el Imperio Azteca estaba en su esplendor y dominaba el Valle de México, como práctica común sometían a los pueblos vecinos, requiriéndoles un tributo obligatorio. Fue entonces cuando el cacique de los Tlaxcaltecas, acérrimos enemigos de los Aztecas, cansado de esta terrible opresión, decidió luchar por la libertad de su pueblo.

El cacique tenía una hija, llamada Iztaccíhuatl, era la princesa más bella y depositó su amor en el joven Popocatépetl, uno de los más apuestos guerreros de su pueblo.

Ambos se profesaban un inmenso amor, por lo que antes de partir a la guerra, Popocatépetl pidió al cacique la mano de la princesa Iztaccíhuatl. El padre accedió gustoso y prometió recibirlo con una gran celebración para darle la mano de su hija si regresaba victorioso de la batalla.

El valiente guerrero aceptó, se preparó para partir y guardó en su corazón la promesa de que la princesa lo esperaría para consumar su amor.

Al poco tiempo, un rival de amores de Popocatépetl, celoso del amor de ambos se profesaban, le dijo a la princesa Iztaccíhuatl que su amado había muerto durante el combate.

Abatida por la tristeza y sin saber que todo era mentira, la princesa murió.

Tiempo después, Popocatépetl regresó victorioso a su pueblo, con la esperanza de ver a su amada. A su llegada, recibió la terrible noticia sobre el fallecimiento de la princesa Iztaccíhuatl.

Entristecido con la noticia, vagó por las calles durante varios días y noches, hasta que decidió hacer algo para honrar su amor y que el recuerdo de la princesa permaneciera en la memoria de los pueblos.

Mandó construir una gran tumba ante el Sol, amontonando 10 cerros para formar una enorme montaña.


Tomó entre sus brazos el cuerpo de su princesa, lo llevó a la cima y lo recostó inerte sobre la gran montaña.  El joven guerrero le dio un beso póstumo, tomó una antorcha humeante y se arrodilló frente a su amada, para velar así, su sueño eterno.

Desde aquel entonces permanecen juntos, uno frente a otro. Con el tiempo la nieve cubrió sus cuerpos, convirtiéndose en dos enormes volcanes que seguirán así hasta el final del mundo.

La leyenda añade, que cuando el guerrero Popocatépetl se acuerda de su amada, su corazón que guarda el fuego de la pasión eterna, tiembla y su antorcha echa humo.   Por ello hasta hoy en día, el volcán Popocatépetl continúa arrojando fumarolas.

Flan Spanish Custard

 


The word Flan comes from the old French flaon, which means custard.  The history of Mexico’s  famous dessert goes back to ancient Rome, where domesticated chicken produced too many eggs which then were used to make custard. The Spaniards, when they conquered what is now Mexico, introduced many foods and ingredients. Flan was one of them.

Flan Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 cups milk
  • 8 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1tsp vanilla extract

Directions

This is one of Mexico’s favorite desserts. It can be made in a single large mold or in individual custard cups.  The bottom of the molds are caramelized so that when the dessert is unmolded it is covered with the caramel glaze.

Caramelize Flan Mold

In a small pan over medium heat boil ½ cup sugar with 2 tablespoons of water. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves and turns dark brown.  Pour caramel into the mold, turning it so it covers the bottom. (If using custard molds you can do the same to caramelize them).

Flan

  1. Preheat Oven 350°F (150°C)
  2. Heat milk until a shinny film forms on top; remove from heat and let cool.  In a bowl, beat sugar gradually into the eggs. Add milk, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Strain into caramelized mold  
  3. Place mold into a pan filled with hot water so that it reaches half the depth of mold.
  4. Bake for one hour or until knife inserted in the flan comes out clean.
  5. Cool flan and place in refrigerator.

 


 

Pastel de las Tres Leches


In recent times the Tres Leches cake or Pastel de las Tres Leches became one of the most popular Mexican Desserts.  It is a sponge cake in many recipes, or a butter cake, soaked in three kinds of milk (thus the name of Tres Leches): evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy whipping cream.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Butter and flour a 9 x 13-inch pan or a glass Pyrex if you’d rather not remove the Tres Leches bread from the pan.   

Ingredients:

Tres Leches Cake

1  cups all-purpose flour sifted
6 eggs separated
½ cup granulated sugar

Tres Leches  Topping
2 cups whole milk
1 can of sweetened, condensed milk
1 can evaporate milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup heavy  whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar

Beat half the sugar and all egg whites until mixture peaks at a medium to high speed.

In another bowl beat the remaining sugar with the egg yolks until you get a light yellow mixture.

Slowly add the sifted flour and beat until you obtain a smooth batter. 

Pour batter into the baking pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in center of the cake.

Cool down to room temperature. Prick the entire top of the cake with a fork. This will enable the Tres Leches mixture to be fully absorbed by the bread.

Tres Leches Topping

In a blender, mix evaporated, condensed, whole milk and sugar.

Slowly pour the Tres Leches mixture all over the cake let stand for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. (It can be left in refrigerator over night.)

Beat the whipping cream, vanilla and two tablespoons sugar until it forms peaks.  Spread the whipped cream over the cake and chill before serving.


 

Tamales Recipe


Ingredients

  • 24 Tamales
  • 2 dozen dried cornhusks (can be substituted with 8″ X 4″ sheets of kitchen parchment)
  • 2 cups. masa harina (corn flour)
  • ⅓ cup lard (can be substituted with margarine or unsalted butter)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups warm stock

Soak cornhusks in hot water until softened. Cream the lard until light and fluffy.
Mix the masa harina with baking powder and salt, and beat into the lard in small amounts.

Beat in stock to make a soft paste. The dough should be soft and pliable. To test the dough you can place a small amount in water, if it floats it is the right consistency.

Shake excess water from cornhusks. Spread 1 tablespoon of the dough on the center of cornhusk. Leave room to fold over the top and bottom edges. Add 1 tablespoon of the filling. Fold cornhusk and dough over the filling so that it is completely covered.  Fold the top and bottom.

Arrange tamales over the steamer rack stacking loosely to allow for the dough to expand.

Tamales should not come in contact with the water.

Steam for about an hour or until dough comes away from husks when unrolled.

Serve hot.

Fillings  Tamales can be filled with all sorts of meats and condiments and sauces.  Meat should be always boneless and shredded. Fillings have to be cooked beforehand.

Tamales Verdes are made with chicken in a green tomatillo sauce.

Tamales Rojos are made with pork and mole sauce.

Tamales con Rajas are made with sliced poblano peppers, and manchego or mozzarella cheese.

Nacimientos: A Christmas Tradition


Nacimientos made of wood, pottery, everlasting flowers, fruits, basketry, glass, wax or tinplate, Mexican nativity scenes possess a charm all their own.

Although the custom of putting up a Christmas tree has become very popular, the real Mexican tradition consists of setting up a nativity scene.

Nacimientos or Nativity Creches are also called pesebres, manger o belenes creche that represent the nativity in Betlehem.

These scenes are set up on December 16, but the figure of the Baby Jesus is not put into the manger until December 24, and the Three Kings are added on January 5.
Following are some beautiful examples of this wonderful Christmas Tradition.

This Nativity is hand carved from wood made in Oaxaca Mexico.

 

Wood Nacimiento from Oaxaca

 

Arbol de la Vida Nativity Metepec Mexico. Ceramic

The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

La Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe

The Basilica of Guadalupe is one of the most visited Catholic Shrines in the world and it is the National Shrine of Mexico.  Located in the north of Mexico City it is considered the second Catholic Shrine in importance after Vatican City.

The Old Basilica,   known as the “Templo Expiatorio a Cristo Rey,” was constructed between 1531 and  1709. On May 1st 1709 the Basilica was consecrated.  Juan Diego’s tilma, cloak, was housed in this Temple from 1709 to 1974.

In 1904 the temple was granted the category of basilica which in Latin means Royal Hall.

The Old Basilica, as many other structures in Mexico City, was sinking and in order to preserve this architectural jewel it was decided that a new Basilica was to be constructed. The old temple was closed to the public from 1976 to May 2000.

The modern basilica, named Basilica of Saint Mary of Guadalupe,  was built between 1974 and 1976 by the architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez.  It is a circular building constructed in such way  to allow the cloak to be viewed by those inside.   It has a 100 meter diameter.  To guarantee that this Basilica would not sink, the  structure is supported by a major pylon.