This week, I traveled to Hidalgo, Mexico, and visited the town of Real Del Monte.
Real Del Monte is a small mining town in the state of Hidalgo, in east-central Mexico. While it has a dark, yet rich, history (including bouts colonization), my tour of Real Del Monte was based more in culinary activities.
Real Del Monte is home of the paste (pronounced paste-ee), which is a flaky, flour-based pastry stuffed with tasty bits that’s produced specially in Hidalgo. The types vary widely, from savory pastes like potato, bean, or mole, to sweet pastes like apple, strawberry, and pineapple.
From what I understood, people from here think the paste is a very special thing that came from Real Del Monte. This, of course, is not true- the paste is actually a direct result of British colonialism. The tasty treat was introduced to the town by miners and builders from Cornwall, UK in the early to mid 1800s.
Still, every October, the small town holds the Festival Internacional del Paste in honor of their claim to fame.
I also tried a Michelada for the first time.
Ah, the Michelada. Possibly the most Mexican thing ever, aside from street dogs barking in the middle of the night and people running out of their houses at wee hours of the morning in their pajamas to whistle for the garbage truck.
The Michelada is a true beauty: A beer-based cocktail made with Clamato juice (AKA, tomato juice mixed with clam juice), worcestershire, hot sauce, and lime. And, if you’re feeling it, throw some shrimp in there, too. The rim is often layered with a salted tamarind-and-chile paste.
The taste? Tart, funky, a little sweet. Weird. Unlike anything I’ve ever tried before.
There are different kinds of Micheladas, too: Some have gummy candies, some have shrimp, some have peppers. The types of Micheladas often are regional, and so you can drive an hour and try a completely different kind. My favorite kind is perhaps also the simplest- the chelada, beer with lime and salt.
I’m still warming up to the Michelada. I’ll admit that I can do without the Clamato juice and shrimp.