September 25, 2019. It's 10 am, I prepare my warm clothes in the back seats of the car, a sweater, a hat and some leg warmers to take a trip to the Salinas de Zapotitlán, Puebla. I am tremendously excited, a couple of years ago I read in one of my favorite gastronomy magazines about this place, it seemed magical to me, it had something that appealed to my mind, in this month, I found an article on the subject again and coincided that I would make a 7-course menu for the day of the dead, where LA SAL played an extremely important role.
Without thinking much, I decided to undertake the journey, I investigated the place; attractive, weather, (there is not much data) so without further information and with the GPS in function we started the car, 4 hrs we were missing to reach our destination, I turned on the radio, lowered the window glass, took off my shoes and now yes, to enjoy the road.
It is beautiful to go through the east of Morelos; green mountains, amaranth fields and the hill shaped like the head of a gorilla.
It is beautiful to go through the east of Morelos; green mountains, amaranth fields and the hill shaped like a gorilla's head, the moving clouds, the frozen air and a highway (already in Puebla) that seemed infinite. ZAPOTITLÁN SALINAS, said a metallic blue advertisement, an ecstasy invaded my skin, I already wanted to know the place, get off and touch the salt. We still traveled a few curves and climbs, the landscape changed from trees and bushes to hills full of cacti, some big and skinny, others small and round, one after another, and curves and more curves.
1:50 pm. Finally we arrive at the town, how beautiful it is, adobe houses, all of different colors and with wooden doors. In the Municipal Palace, we met a lady who sells pulque at her house, we asked her where we could buy Sal and she very kindly led us to La Casa De La Sal.
After several knocks on the door, we could not get them to open us, so neither pulque nor salt, time ate us, we kept our mouths salivating, but no way, duty and hunger called us, Doña Mayahuel recommended a restaurant where they serve regional food, we did not pretend and in less than 5 min we were already looking at the menu; worms, bedbugs, flowers, handmade tortillas, everything seemed like a delicacy: Tetechas, Cocopaches, Cacallas and Saleita. Everything was unknown to us, we asked for a little (perhaps enough) of the above, and with the pig disease approaching, we asked if it was possible to enter the Salinas, they told us to visit the Botanical Garden and that they would send us to a guide who could take us on a tour of the grounds, we drove to the park, took a few photos and went to Las Salinas Las Chiquitas.
... everything seemed a delicacy: Tetechas, Cocopaches, Cacallas and Saleita. Everything was unknown to us.
3:30 pm. We passed the entrance and we did not see anyone, suddenly, in the rear-view mirror, a beige stain began to stir, he signaled us to drive to him, it was Juan Diego, our guide, we introduced ourselves and it turned out that he works with Slow Food ( Click here to know all about this international project ) and that thanks to that collaboration they got El Baluarte, which makes them value their product and their production more, supporting their production and showing them the great quality they have, teaching us that we must pay a fair price for such a tremendous production and that the artisanal and organic process elevates the final product.
The image in front of him was striking, pastel squares, pinks, greens, blues, and copper colored ones.
The image in front of him was surprising, pastel squares, pinks, greens, blues and copper colored ones, the difference in coloration is due to the types of minerals that each well has, with which each of the paintings, I must presume that my favorite was pink.
Juan Diego gave us a demonstration of one of them, we approached and broke the glass that formed, the texture was wonderful, it melted in the hands, the taste of the sea was very predominant, he told us that in that area there was sea, that that is why there was so much salinity and that over time the hills were formed, leaving only the springs which now feed the salt flats. On the other hand, he also told us the ancestral techniques with which salt was obtained, they boiled the water in clay pots over very high heat, until the water was consumed and ended up breaking the pots, leaving the salt exposed (still they see the remains of the clay pots thrown in some areas of the land), their ancestors perfected the way to extract the salt, which is done through condensation. Over the years they have been improving, now the tables are filled with hoses from the well to the lowest part of the salt flats, before, he recalls, his father used to walk the ground with buckets and they filled the tables one by one, causing them to bulge in the cervical.
He told us that there was a sea in that area.
He told us that when he was a child, his father took him from very early to see how they did this arduous work, sometimes he helped and at other times he walked and played, tired of walking around, he asked his father “are we leaving dad? ? ”, Without paying much attention to him, he would only answer“ until the cricket is singing ”, desperately paying attention to listen to the song, the moment would come and he would repeat“ are we leaving now, dad? ” and I only got as an answer "no, until the cricket sings", the memories of Juan Diego made me laugh and imagine the photograph, now he is in charge of the Salinas, he makes the salt with pride and travels through Italy and Germany to expose and show off the salt process with an inflated chest.
5:30 pm. We said goodbye to Juan Diego, shared cards and we were both very grateful for listening and being heard. It is time to return, a long journey awaits us, we get in the car, we once again go around the curves, now in a tailspin, the hills with the cacti, which say there are 2 of them for every square meter, we look for some water supplier that Help quench our thirst, after trying so much salt.
A stand of ice lollies winked at us, "Sabores Del Desierto" announced.
As they say: we were looking for copper and we found gold; a little stand of ice pops winked at us, “Sabores Del Desierto” announced, pitaya, garambullo, xoconostle, xiotilla, a popsicle each and now let's go, it's late, 4 hours back, the road says goodbye with a heavy rain, a big gray cloud above us, a cold air, a sunset, an endless road and a beautiful rainbow.
Ana Karina Rodríguez | Executive chef
LAS CASAS B + B Hotel | HOUSE RESTAURANT