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The Essence of San Miguel: the cobblestone streets

You know you have finally made it to San Miguel when your teeth start to chatter, your bones start to rattle, and the van that picked you up from the airport slows down to a gentle coast of 15 mph. It is the cobblestone streets that greet you when you enter San Miguel….

and it is the cobblestone streets that bid you farewell as you leave.

 

Many would agree the cobblestone streets are what give San Miguel its charm and essence, along with the colonial architecture, impeccable lighting and fresh mountain air. There is something about it all that captures your heart, but especially the cobblestones as you notice how they have been placed carefully side by side just like chocolate truffles in a box. From the perspective of a millennial, it is like a scene from a video game (Super Mario Sunshine to be exact).

Sometimes one can not help but stare at these hundred year-old stones and wonder what they have seen. Hundreds of years have gone by and all the while hundreds of donkeys, horses, carriages, wedding parades, funeral processions, strikers, movie stars, who have come and gone, yet these immortal stones remain.

 

The cobblestones are excellent indicators of what time of the year it is too with traces of confetti, jacaranda flowers, a gruesome layer of dust during the dry season or a rushing stream of water after a summer shower. The cobblestones are their own terrain within themselves and we love and appreciate them like the wise old oak trees of Texas.

In the words of our dear friend Kirsten West, “The cobblestones are actually one of the best free foot massages in San Miguel de Allende!”

Written by Anna Louise Judson

 

¡Benito the Donkey!

What is it that makes the “callejoneada” or traditional Mexican wedding processional the pure ecstasy that it is? Is it the abundantly flowing tequila served in little “jarritos?” Could it be the energy blasting from the horns of the mariachis leading the parade? Or maybe the outrageoulsy comical “mojiganga” puppets, the massive caricatures created to look like a giant exaggerated version of the couple? Alright, lets be real, all of those are pretty unique and necessary parts that make the callejoneada what it is but the icing on the cake is Benito the donkey.

 

Alas yes, the party starts with an ass. But really, Benito is the carrier of all things good including baskets filled to the brim with the jarritos that get distributed to each guest as well as the booze for the jarritos. The callejoneada is an intoxicating event, but I am not talking about intoxication via booze.

It is the music of the mariachis exploding vibrantly in each guests ear like one of the bursting Mexican paper flowers while mojigangas dance in front of the procession with the newly weds. The sun sets in the background, the church bells ring in the distance, and the town can not help but feel the undeniable energy of the parade. Utterly intoxicating to all the senses including the soul, one simply can not help but beam at the sight.

 

It is said that the donkey is a symbol of humility and peace, which is ironic seeing that such festivities the donkey leads are quite the opposite of peaceful. Regardless, we love our trusty pal Benito and all the joy he carries along in his little baskets.

Written by Anna Louise Judson

 

La Mesa de Dulces

Growing up, we have all anticipated the beloved (and no less than holy) dessert table, flowing with chocolate covered strawberries, gooey brownies, piles of chocolate chip cookies and usually some sort of tangy pie with gobs of whipped cream or a triple decker cake with butter cream frosting (lunch hour is upon us can you tell??). I was utterly thrilled when I was told to help set up the “mesa de dulces” before one of our wedding rehearsal dinners.

But to my surprise, there was not a baked good in sight. Instead I was faced with boxes upon boxes of dried mangos dusted with chili powder, “mazapan,” or peanut powder pressed into little cakes, massive bags of chips and popcorn accompanied with jugs of hot sauce to drizzle on top. Not to mention the “obleas” which, I kid you not, are neon colored communion wafers with a drizzle of honey and with pumpkin seeds spiking out of the top. Simply absurd in the eyes of a gal who loves some good old fashioned white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. Seeing the finished product of this traditional Mexican “mesa de dulces,” however, reminded me of a piñata in Versaille, just completely over the top and glutenous in the most glorious way possible!

Guests were invited to take little baggies and fill them to their heart’s desire of whatever goodies, whether they be sweet, salty or spicy, they could get their hands on.

This indulgent tradition has been around for years all over the world, especially amongst royalty, but has just recently been resurfaced in the West. It is the ultimate sign of wealth and abundance, reminding me of the extravagant weddings described in our history books of kings and queens and czars and emporers. It is uniquely Mexican, however, to display a plethora of chile dusted sweets and various other sweet, salty and spicy combinations. Of course, the array of desserts range from culture to culture, but it is the ultimate symbol of celebration and indulgence to have tables with mountains and baskets and shelves of goodies. Caution! The next few photos might cause extreme salivation.

Lets just get a close up of that shall we??

Written by Anna Louise Judson

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