Comida

Restaurant, Calzada a la Estacion, San Miguel de Allende

Restaurant, Calzada a la Estacion, San Miguel de Allende

Traditionally in Mexico, the main meal, Comida, happens in the early afternoon. Hundreds of these colorful tiny storefronts, like this small restaurant on the Calzada a la Estacion, do not hesitate to use color and great hand-painted graphics to grab attention and encourage your appetite.

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Watch Where You Tread

Paving stone, San Miguel de Allende

Paving stone, San Miguel de Allende

In San Miguel, with its ridiculously narrow sidewalks, irregular surfaces, cobblestones, and missing access covers, you can’t walk and look at the same time – you need to keep your focus clearly on the ground. However, this can be an unexpected delight, as many of the historic paving stones in El Centro display the most amazing patterns and colors. I have not found out what type of stone this is, or where it was quarried, but it has been polished to a wonderful sheen by the millions of Mexican feet passing over it over the years. I would assume the occlusions you can see, typical of all these stones, were possibly shellfish of some kind originally embedded in the surface.

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The Excuse Me Chicken Shop

Polleria Zaragazo, Insurgentes, San MIguel

Polleria Zaragazo, Insurgentes, San MIguel

The real name is the Polleria Zaragazo, but it is known locally as the Polleria Con Permisso, which, roughly translated, means the “Excuse Me Chicken Shop”. Just to add to the confusion, it sells mainly vegetables and fruit. At about four meters (13 feet) square, and being the place where most hotels and restaurants, and all the housemaids, buy their ingredients, it is about the most crowded place in San Miguel. At that size there is nowhere to store anything, so a fleet of quadrimotos (four-wheeled motorcycle thingies) ply back and forth all day long bringing in everything fresh from the fields. There were 26 people in the store when I took this picture, all muttering “con permisso”, “con permisso” as they squeezed past each other and stepped gingerly over the clutter of bags of potatoes and beans on the floor. I was in the corner by the pineapples so had to stop taking pictures to pass some hand-to-hand overhead whenever they were needed. And the cost of all this? About a quarter of what we pay for often pale unripe stuff in the US, and, it’s right at the end of our street. Excuse me, I forgot to mention, they do also sell a few chickens.

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Nuestro Señora de la Salud

Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Salud, San Miguel de Allende

Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Salud, San Miguel de Allende

The Templo de Nuestra Señora de la Salud (Church of Our Lady of Health), San Miguel de Allende, dates to the 18th century and was designed by Luis Felipe Neri de Alfaro. This church was formerly the chapel of the San Francisco de Sales school, now part of the University of Guanajuato next door. The distinctive exterior features a concave seashell motif just visible in the previous post, and the altar, seen here, is dedicated to Saint Cecilia, patroness of music and musicians. On her feast day, November 22, musicians play at the church entrance.

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Pop-Up Protest

Pop-up Guerrero shrine in front of Nuestro Señora de la Salud, San Miguel

Pop-up Guerrero shrine in front of Nuestro Señora de la Salud, San Miguel

Throughout Mexico, shrines to the massacred Guerrero students continue to appear, some permanent or some as pop-up vigils as here in front of the Templo de Nuestro Señora de la Salud, San Miguel de Allende. Despite the disregard for law and order in some parts of Mexico, the sentiment of the country is powerfully massing against this travesty of justice in particular.

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Not Sure What They Are, But They Taste Great

Maguey fruit, we think, on sale at the Tianguis, San Miguel de Allende

Maguey fruit, we think, on sale at the Tianguis, San Miguel de Allende

We think these rather interesting fruit are Maguey, which is the fruit from the Agave, the big spikey-leaved plant from which tequila and mescal are also made. We bought a couple, and when split they have a very large shiny seed, and soft sweet flesh which tastes rather like some kind of pudding. This vendor rapidly emptied his barrow at the Tianguis, the massive open-air market on tuesdays here in San Miguel.

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Las Monjas From the Bellas Artes

The dome of Las Monjas from the Bellas Artes, San Miguel

The dome of Las Monjas from the Bellas Artes, San Miguel

The upper gallery of the newly restored Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes building in San Miguel de Allende gives a splendid view of the dome of the church of the Convent of La Concepción, known locally as Las Monjas, literally, The Nuns. The Bellas Artes building provides a home for many artists and craftsmen on the two levels of studios and galleries that form what was originally the magnificent cloister of the Convent dating from 1755.

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Not New York

Oranges against a blue wall, San Miguel

Oranges against a blue wall, San Miguel

Back in New York we behave ourselves and like true minimalists stick to white on white on white. In Mexico we let rip and chuck a bit of color about. Here our front mini-patio is being repainted in blue against which the color of the fruit on our bitter orange tree really pops out.

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Fiesta de la Candelaria

Niño Dios dolls, the Orataorio, San Miguel

Niño Dios dolls after blessing, the Orataorio, San Miguel

In Norte America the Second of February is Groundhog Day, in Mexico, El Dia de la Cadelaria or Candlemas. Catholics celebrate this day as the Feast of the Purification, or as the Presentation of Christ at the Temple, when Jesus would have been taken to the synagogue, forty days after his birth. In Mexico, most families have their own images of the Child Jesus, usually a commercially bought plastic doll, known as the Niño Dios, which they often dress quite elaborately. Women, and very occasionally men, as here outside the Oratorio, line up with their dolls and candles, sometimes baskets of them, to be blessed as part of the ceremonies.

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More Mojigangas

Mojiganga in front of the Parroquia, San Miguel

Mojiganga in front of the Parroquia, San Miguel

Another Mojiganga, as these twenty foot tall papier maché puppets are called, the operator inside often given away by a large pair of workboots appearing beneath the delicate skirt. Skeleton images, in all forms known as calacas, are generally depicted as joyous rather than mournful figures, often shown wearing festive clothing, dancing, and playing musical instruments to indicate a happy afterlife. This draws on the Mexican belief, originating in Aztec times, that death should be a happy occasion, although you may not have thought so if you were having your heart ripped out at the time. Mexicans often say “se lo llevó la calaca” after a death, meaning “the calaca took him”. This one at a wedding. No further comment.

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