There is nothing quite as Mexican as a ritual and when it comes to such, Puerto Vallarta celebrates with joy and earnest. What better time to incorporate Pre-Hispanic customs than the birth of Christ, so observed by the Catholic Church.
Offerings of the gods, practiced long before the arrival and conquering of the Spaniards, over time have been adapted and modified to align with Vatican tradition. The posadas were created by the church in an effort to evangelize those whom they had invaded and it was easy to persuade a ritual-rich civilization with the stories of Jesus and Mary, seeking a place for the birth of the Christ child.
Though from region to region there are variations in some of the dishes, the main menu maintains a strong similarity throughout Mexico. Puerto Vallarta is very involved in Christmas celebrations for the entire month of December and food is at its very heart.
With a wealth of tropical fruits, everything from desserts to the famous ponche (punch) is rich in quality and good health. Along with peanuts, full of protein, snacking is not about junk food. Children get some of their best vitamins this time of year.
There is, however, a lot of sugar, as well. Cane sugar, which in Mexico, is in its purest form, literally drips from much of the Christmas fare. A drink served with a spoon, the traditional punch is so sweet, it’s almost painful to the mouth but there is not stopping us from imbibing. Tejocotes, sugar cane, peanuts and mandarins seem to fall out of the sky this time of year.
Tamales are the primary food served all the way through December, into January, when the arrival of the Three Kings is celebrated on Epiphany, the sixth day of the month. The famous Roscón de Reyes or Rosca de Reyes (King’s Ring) is shared on this day, complete with figurines of the baby baked inside. Tamales show up again on February 2, on Dia de la Candelaria or Candlemas, which is when the Baby Jesus was presented at the temple. This is a very important day in many Mexican families, when their candles are brought to the church to be blessed. The nativity figure of the Christ child is also blessed on this day and it’s all celebrated with a feast. Whoever bit into the plastic baby Jesus on January 6 is in charge of making and serving the tamales. Wrapped in corn husks and kept in steamers until serving time, they are composed of everything from meat and fish to vegetables and fruit, especially pineapple. These meals, as most traditional Mexican food, do not require utensils but are all considered “finger foods.”
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Thanks to our guest blogger Adam Garcia for this article!
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