Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tchotchke Heaven

Is it tchotke or is it chotchke or is it chochki?

Tshotshke, tshatshke, tchatchke, chachke, or chochke?

There's even a Spanish word
"Cachivache" that means and
sounds remarkably like "tchotchke."

No matter. However it is spelled it was at the Uruapan craft market this weekend. For the second year in a row we drove 150 miles (a lovely drive, by the way) to Uruapan, an otherwise undistinguished city of about 200,000. Once a year it is host to a two week event, where thousands of craftspeople from surrounding towns in the state of Michoacan (like Michigan, means "land of many lakes") bring their craft items to market. The main market is held in a giant tent about three blocks long. In addition, there are other venues where various items are exhibited, and where events, such as an indigenous clothing show, and a mini-food festival, are held.

We did just about everything in two days, starting with our mid-day arrival on Saturday. First we made a whirlwind tour of the market, with only minor purchases. Just a warm up, so to speak.

Later we attended a show of indigenous folk costumes (trajes), modeled by lovely young women, presumably from the city's most prominent families. The clothing was lavish, especially considering that it was primarily worn by peasants. They also did some folk dances while walking down the runway.

Make sure you play the two video clips above and below!

On to dinner at a lovely hotel, Mansion del Cupatizio (name of river where hotel is located). Speciality was "trucha" - trout - presumably from the river. Let's hope the delicious flavor wasn't due to toxic waste!

After dinner, a walk through the displays again. We didn't buy too much. Fatigue was setting in.

On Sunday we woke to another beautiful day. At 10:30 the Concurso opened to the public. These were the prizewinners! We scooped up three lovely pots - one copper and silver, two clay. The place was mobbed - one day only. It was held in an old fabric factory...a big beautiful open space

Shopping sure works up an appetite! On to the food fair! Linda and Alice got some new recipes!

They watched a woman make two tone gorditas - Mexican pita pockets filled with cheese, vegetables or meat. We also ran into some picturesque street musicians, playing terrific music!

One of the treasures we purchased was a clay roast chicken store.

Before leaving town we went to a small park with lovely waterfalls and lots of food and souvenir vendors. Below are Alice and Max Neufeld.

Here's Linda trying on a dress. How will this play back in Detroit?

Perhaps this sign is more effective than "Keep off the grass" or "Do not pick flowers".


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Festival de Sabor...food festival

This weekend the first ever Fiesta de Sabor (Food Festival) took place in San Miguel, sponsored by Sabor magazine, the Mexican Gourmet magazine. Of course we went. Upon entry, we were issued wrist bands for identification, bags (recyclable!) to carry all the literature and samples, a Sabor magazine, a tasting tray and a wine glass with our name written on it. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of people were present, probably 75% Mexican, many from Mexico City, Monterrey and other cities within a days' drive of San Miguel.

We went with our friends Irene Pagan (Texan through and through) and Debe Moscowitz, formerly of Washington, D.C.

Over 70 exhibitors were present - restaurants, wineries, Viking appliances, real estate companies. Plenty of wine samples and food to try. And, as at all such festivals, plenty of lovely girls to ogle (not by me, of course). Mexican men prefer a substantial booty!

We attended a wine tasting, sponsored by a Spanish wine company (Torres) and learned how our taste buds work! An added benefit was the Spanish lesson - I learned lots of new words from the presenter, who had a very clear accent.

Linda was particularly impressed with the presentation of some of the samples, as shown below. Salad on a skewer, no less!

We spent about 5 hours at the Festival, filling our bellies and our eyes. There was also entertainment, including Gil & Cartas (our favorite musicians) and a belly dancer! Dinner was strictly optional that night, as you may imagine.

From the sublime to the ridiculous! That's Mexico for you. The next day we went to Costco in Celaya, a nearby town (famous for its goat milk caramel sauce, by the way). A hot dog and soft drink were 19 pesos, about $1.75.

But note the difference in condiments! The Mexicans love their hot peppers with everything, including hot dogs!

Not much else to say about Costco. It's about as successful in Mexico as it is in the US. A few other differences include: guards on bicycles in the parking lot, people to wash your car while you shop, people to wheel your cart to your car and unload it for you (for a small tip).
Bella and Gigi were not at the food festival, but they want to say
goodbye to you!