Hungry In Puebla
The ice cream earlier had bought me time to investigate the local food scene and roam around aimlessly just a bit more. But the sugar high was fading fast and I needed to get something in my system ASAP.
Mercado El Parian: Handicraft Market And Valuable Local Food Info Source
Not before my family stopped at the local artisan handicraft market and bought a bunch of trinkets though. But as they bargained, I got valuable recommendations from the humble vendors about what they liked to eat them selves. Two people told me about a fonda (small place to eat that specializes in home style local cooking) they said was good and affordable called Mi Ranchito…it was settled.
Restaurant Mi Ranchito: Local Approved
The glossy window with handwritten letters looked inviting. Inside, the owner was having lunch with an old lady and got up to seat us.
Mi Ranchito: A Calmer Life
We were handed the menus. Usually, Fondas will specialize in basic and affordable, multi course meals. Usually 3-4 that include a soup, a starch (rice or pasta) and then the main entrée with protein and veggies, drinks and desserts are interchangeable depending on the fonda. The menu changes daily with whatever is in season at the Mercado and whatever the cooks want to make.
Talk About Rotating Menus
My dad was up front and asked our ownder right away “what foods on the menu were specifically ‘Comida Poblana?’” In the sternest of voices, he inflated his chest and murmured “pues los Chiles En Nogada and Pipian Rojo Con Cerdo. Without even looking at the rest of the options on the menu, that was that.
Before everything, there was bread.
A Moment For Bread
I was quite excited to nibble on the breadbasket that was on everyone else’s table. But it proved to be a little stale and dry, probably not fresh from that day. Quite a shame too since there was a bakery from Zacatlan directly across the street.
The soups were served first. We got both soups that were on the menu for the day.
Crema De Broccoli: Smooth and Thin
Making a pureed soup is not new in Mexico. A way of pleasantly stretching out product usually, I didn’t care too much for this cream as it had a little too much water in it to stretch it out and not enough broccoli or milk/cream.
Consomé De Camaron: Made With Dried Shrimp
This broth-based soup was the better option today, especially with the added accoutrements of lime, minced onion, cilantro and local serrano’s. The dried shrimp added much depth and texture due to the edible skin.
We were then served the starches. Again, we got both options available.
The rice came in huge clumps instead of a neat pile. It was serve at room temperature. Although I knew this was normal and did not mind, my dad sent it back to get re-warmed. I had never seen him do that. It was not bad but nothing special, just there to be eaten with the food.
Spaghetti Alfredo?: Out Of Nowhere
Surprisingly, the spaghetti came in a blandish cream sauce. It was super overcooked and broke with every forkful, just like my mom used to sometime make it. Think it has to do with our belief in “sopa” always cooked in a soup (Spanish for pasta). My dad ladled some chile verde all over it and deemed it ok.
It was finally time for our mains. We got every option as well.
Cerdo En Pipian Rojo Poblano: Complex With Clove Tender
This dish came first and it was the best thing of this entire meal. The pork spare ribs were tender and adhered nicely in the complex pool of smooth spices and nuts. Clove was the prevailing flavor tasting sweet because of it but with no actual sweetness in the dish.
Chile En Nogada: The Other Crowing Jewel Of Comida Poblana
Quite possible Pueblas most famous dish behind Mole Poblano, this dish is advertised and chanted at you by every single place to eat in the city. You will see blown up pictures of it in every window when pomegranates are in season. The dish is essentially a old school ‘haute cuisine’ from old school Mexico, prepared by Spanish nuns for priests dating all the way back to the 1800's.
The dish is essentially a type of “Chile Relleno”. A stuffed Chile (Ancho) Poblano that is “capeado” (battered in whipped egg) then fried. But here the filling consists of ground meat (pork or beef usually) that is cooked with things like candied cactus (Dulce De Bisnaga), raisins, apples etc. It is then topped with a sweet cream sauce inflected with ground pecans and generously sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. This is basically Mexico’s answer to medieval savory mincemeat pies.
An acquired sweetness for my family and I, I liked the version at La Casita Mexicana a lot better. This one was still stone cold on the inside and just not balanced. The cream sauce was killed by thinness too.
The last dish we got was their filete de Pescado.
Filete De Pescado At Mi Ranchito: Fish Milanesa Maybe?
The filleted fish came heavily breaded and was served with scant servings of refried beans, watery ‘guacamole’ and 4 strips of iceberg lettuce. I actually didn’t mind this dish since Pueblas breading and frying technique is quite masterful and tasty. Ever had Milanesa? Well, think of what it would taste like if it was made with fish.
Lastly, we were served a dessert course.
Fresh Guavas In Syrup: Does The Job
Fresh guavas were cooked in simple syrup and served as is. Appreciated that the guavas texture was retained. Love those violently crisp seeds!
Oh well, you can’t win ‘em all. Was not going to let this experience phase me in the least!
Next...how could I leave Puebla without having a Cemita Poblana?
Mi Ranchito, Right on Corner of Avenida 4 and Calle 4 in Downtown Puebla.
In front of Panaderia Zacatlan and right next to an OXXO convenience store.