This past weekend I took a road trip to the state of Hidalgo, about one and half hour north of Mexico City, with Lesley, her husband Crayton and Jon. Lesley had mentioned this trip a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t until Thursday that the organizers of some tamal and atole festival gave her the details. The venue was in the center of Tetepango (from the Nahuatl Tepantli and Co that means close to the stone wall), Hidalgo. We weren’t exactly sure where that town was and how to get there, where we were going to stay, or what exactly the festival was all about. We decided to rent a car (none of us owns a car) and head to the unknown. We’re adventurous that way.
When we got there we found out that the festival, the 7th Fair of Atole and the Tamal, was being held in the town’s deportivo (sports facilities) and that we were expected to be part of the jury that would pick the best tamales and atoles of the night. Lesley and I tried around 50 different tamales and 40 different atoles made by local cooks, mostly women. That was enough atole and tamales to last several weeks for me!. This is the 7th year that this festival is held in Tetepango and I’m very glad I was part of it. The organizers were very kind and got us hotel rooms in a beautiful water park a couple of miles away from the festival venue.
The following morning they took us to Tlaxcoapan, the neighboring town, for breakfast. The state of Hidalgo is famous for its mutton barbacoa (not to be confused with barbeque). Some families have been in the business of making barbacoa for generations. We tried some delicious barbacoa de hoyo (pit or hole) that was cooked the traditional way, wrapped in maguey and banana leaves and cooked underground for several hours. But before trying the barbacoa we stopped at a local bakery to get cocoles (bread made with raw sugar) and conchas:
This was a very fun, informative and delicious short trip. We got invited back to some of the other festivals in the region (barbacoa, pastes, pulque, among others). I’ll be there for sure. There’s so much to learn about this region’s cuisine that I will need to take several trips to just scratch the surface. I want to thank the organizing committee for having us and being such great hosts.