I hadn’t spent much time in San Miguel de Allende until about a week ago, when I went for the annual writers’ conference.
To be honest, I didn’t really have a high opinion of the place — Crayton and I spent one afternoon there in 2007 and I remember feeling annoyed with all the English-speaking, the tourists in shorts, the expensive artesanía.
This time I went with a more open mind. I stayed at a beautiful bed and breakfast, Casa Luna, with one of my favorite girlfriends in the world. I took some cooking classes with the incomparable Marilau. (More on her later.) The city was much prettier than I remembered — probably the most well-preserved colonial Mexican town I’ve ever seen. The English-speaking didn’t bother me much. What bugged me more was constantly receiving flour tortillas instead of corn, because the waiters thought I’d like them more. (Flour tortillas are for the north. We eat corn in Central Mexico.)
One of my favorite snacks in San Miguel was the guacamaya, a chicharrón sandwich made on a bolillo roll. A very cool children’s book author I met, who happened to be a San Miguel native, told me about them. Apparently the sandwiches are quite popular in León.
I spotted a stand through the window of a car one afternoon and made the driver, a new friend, pull over.
I’d thought the salsa would be more like a torta ahogada, but it was much fresher, like a pico de gallo. It soaked into the chicharrón, creating this layer that was soggy in parts and crunchy in others. Somehow it tasted light, much lighter than the gringa al pastor I had the first night in town. (The gringa was awesome, by the way. But different.)
I may go back to San Miguel later this year for more cooking classes. If you’ve got any tips on interesting local foods, or if you know anything about guacamayas (like how they got their name!), I’d love to hear your comments. You can find more San Miguel food photos in my Picasa album.