You’ve gotta love Mexicans for how they celebrate! Every possible holiday, saint’s day and local festival is excuse to eat, decorate the town and dance. Here, we just celebrate Easter, and perhaps go to church on Good Friday. In Mexico, the fesitivies are weeklong: Semana Santa (Holy Week) begins with Domingo de Ramas (Palm Sunday) and lasts Easter Sunday or Pascua. Since nearly 90% of Mexicans are Catholic, Holy Week is one of the important holidays, second only to Christmas. It is also the release from the sacrifices of Lent, which began this year on Ash Wednesday, March 9.
As with each Mexican holiday season, certain food specialties began to appear in local markets just before its onset. For the Lenten period, you’ll typically find “very large dried shrimp for caldos (broths) and tortitas (croquettes), perfect heads of cauliflower for tortitas de coliflor (cauliflower croquettes), seasonal romeritos” (this, according to Chef Claudia of Can Cook in Cancun, whose recipe for romeritos is below). Also common are Pambazo which are special sandwiches drenched in a salsa (recipe to follow in tomorrow’s column) and capirotada (bread pudding) and aguas frescas. For the Mission’s best Capirotada you’ll want to hit El Mejor Panaderia on 24th between Mission and Bartlett.
“All of Mexico celebrates Semana Santa, but certain cities and villages are better known for celebrating the holiday, and often provide reenactments of the events leading up to Christ’s crucifixion on the cross. The best known cities are Ixtapalapa (in Mexico City), Pátzcuaro, San Cristobal de las Casas (Chiapas), and Taxco. Smaller and silent torch lit processions, Processión del Silencio, also take place in Aguascalientes and San Luis Potosí. ” according to Playa Maya News. As with so many Mexican festivities, the re-enactments are colorful and amazing, fully-staged with costumes and acted, with participants preparing for their roles well before Lent even begins. PMV continues, “The most moving event of Semana Santa is the reenactment of the Passion of Christ, or the Passion Play. The event’s in the mentioned cities are sponsored by religious or community groups, and can include large processions of penitents, sometimes on their knees, a portrayal of the last supper and the crucifixion itself”
It is truly a beatiful time of year to be in Mexico, important religious images are displayed, altars are decorated at home and in the streets, and flower decorations and palm crosses are everywhere.
Here is Chef Claudia’s Romeritos recipe. You’ll find romeritos at markets on 16th and Mission and on Mission between 17th and 18th.
Romeritos A Sacred Mexican Dish
Romeritos are succulent, stringy-looking Mexican greens (Suaeda torreyana) that resemble rosemary and taste like spinach—which may be substituted. They are traditionally served at Christmas time and Lent.
3 pounds of Romeritos (already cleaned are better) or Spinach
1 ½ cup Peanuts ,Almonds, Nuts and Sesame seeds
3 cloves Garlic
1 roll of french bread toasted
1 Tortilla toasted
½ cup Raisins
1 bar Abuelita Chocolate
3 Chile Ancho
3 Chile Pasilla
2 Chile Mulato
10 Nopal cactus
2 pounds small potatoes cooked
ROMERITOS: Clean and wash the romeritos with plenty of water to remove the soil from them.
Boil the Romeritos (herbs) in water, when the water gets dirty change it and keep boiling until the Romeritos are very soft. It takes like 30 minutes. Take them out of the water and let them drip. Shell the shrimp and ground them until they are a fine powder
1. If you don’t eat chile, wash the chilis and take the vains out, which is what makes them spicy.
2. Boil the chilis with half an onion and a peeled head of garlic. When the chili changes color and gets soft you can turn the fire off.
3. Boil the almonds so you can peel it (otherwise the mole tastes bitter).
4. Toast the peanuts, the almonds, the nuts, the raisins. Then separately, each of them have their toasting time. Turn the fire down and add the sesame seeds, the sesame seeds jump, be careful to not get burn.
5. Cut the Nopales in 1/2 cm aprox. Srips and boil them in water with salt. Only a moment, when they look yellowish and dribble take them out and let them drip and rinse.
6. In the blender or food processor, start blending the ingredients you toast already. Don’t over fill the blender.
7. Boil the chicken, you want the stock.
8. Blend the chili with the chicken stock and add the nuts, the toasted tortilla, the toasted bread and the powder of shrimp
9. In another pan put the ingredients of the blender or food processor. Move constantly, carefully, do not place your face close to smell it, the mole jumps. MOLE DOES NOT MIX WITH WATER IT MUST MIX WITH CHICKEN stock, or it will jump when you are preparing it.
10. Add a spoon of bouillon of chicken powder . When the Mole is cooked, add 1 bar of chocolate Ibarra/Abuelita and taste it as you mix it to sweeten it to your taste with the chocolate.
11. Add the Nopales to the Mole when this is boiling. Add the Romeros already cooked and stir and stir and stir the Mole. Taste it as you stir to adjust the salt, but you should not need more than two spoons of it.
12. When it is almost ready, add the potatoes, you don’t need to peel them, around 10 minutes. Turn the fire off and let the Mole settle.
YOU WILL HAVE ENOUGH MOLE TO FREEZE FOR LATER, JUST USE THE MOLE YOU NEED FOR THE AMOUNT OF ROMERITOS YOU COOK.
ROMERITOS: the plant grows wild, it is not cultivated. It has that name for the resemblance it has with rosemary