The Long And Winding Road: From Guadalajara To Talpa
It was the first day in my life where I didn't get a wink of sleep and no matter how beautiful the sierra scenery of Jalisco was...I knocked the fuuuck out! Only to wake up to an excited Chuy screaming "El espinaso del diablo!" as he sped through sidewinder, cliff-side turns with gusto and burnt rubber.
But I was quick to wake up as soon as we arrived to Restaurante Doña Mary's, a pit stop that Chuy and his family never fail to make in their 2 1/2 hour Talpa trek for the last 30 years. Chuy's great aunt is the actual owner of the place.
Don't stop for any other places before this gem, no matter how much the vendors try to get your attention by clapping at you or fanning the thick steam from freshly brewed Atole Blanco towards your direction...
Atole Blanco With Piloncillo Brown Sugar: Mexican Insulation
It was about 9 AM and my L.A raised lanky body was no match for the the frigid morning frost of the Jalisco wilderness. I needed some calories fast. Luckily, my ancestry had me covered with Atole Blanco. This is what the parents of my great grandparents were raised on "to be big and strong" as my parents would say. It is a hot, thick beverage of blended dried corn and water. It is milky white, unsweetened but served with the freshest (moistest) cones of Piloncillo brown sugar you could find. I made this on my recent trek to Zacatecas from scratch and learned to appreciate its bland, creamy taste just as my great grandparents did when there was no milk or other food to eat. And it works! After sipping this, I took my puffy jacket off and felt some warmth in my body once again.
Only Hand Made Tortillas at Mary's: Hay Que Chikiado!
The lady was making fresh tortillas in the back and Chuy went on and on about their Cecina dried beef (used to be dried deer until the Mex. government cracked down hard on it) preparation but of course, I took the lighter route and decided on seeing how they prepared their Chilaquiles. Since, we are spoiled back in L.A with the crispy ones at La Casita Mexicana's version...
Chilaquiles: In The Style Of El Jacal, Jalisco
The plate arrived to reveal a yinyang of julienne crispy tortilla strips and and creamy refried local beans. All drowned in a pool of that zesty red chile sauce. The tortilla here seemed to be dry toasted rather than fried like at La Casita Mexicana. And these were only topped with shredded Queso Añejo, the same stinky, raw cheese that my aunt makes back in Zacatecas. I inhaled these just as I did the Atole and actually preferred this lighter version this time around.
"Did you guys stop at the Cecina at El Jacal?" asks Chuy's 14 year old cousin as I type this post. On to another 30 years!
Restaurante Doña Mary's
El Jacal, Jalisco. Mex.
(Ask for Doña Mary anywhere in the rural town)
As Chuy would say..."Preguntando se llega a Roma!"
A Modern Recipe For Atole Blanco
Makes 4 Cups
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes
2 Cup Masa Quebrada (Maseca Masa Harina dry Tortilla mix could be used ONLY if Masa is not available)
4 Cups Water
1) Pour ingredients into blender, blend until smooth.
2) Place blended liquid into large pot, under low heat bring to a rolling boil while whisking constantly to mix constantly.
3) Atole is ready when consistency is the texture of a Hollandaise sauce. (20-25 minutes)
*Using dry Masa Harina is not how it is made in either Zacatecas or Jalisco but it is better than nothing!