Here's a photo of me admiring the devil masks at the amazing Museo de Rafael Coronel. I never knew I had an interest in masks until I spent the day there. I also didn't know I had such mischievous friends who snapped this without me knowing it. I swear I deserve angel wings!
Just last week I was in Zacatecas for a Congreso de Friol. This is basically a bean convention. I was very excited to see the state of the bean industry in Mexico and it seemed like it would be a good idea. Plus I'd only heard good things about the city of Zacatecas.
Well, the Congreso was much like an American ag gathering. A lot of very nice people trying to figure out how to grow more for less without mentioning flavor. The market for beans in Mexico has shrunk by 30% and they're still treating beans like a commodity, just like us, despite the fact that we can't compete with the Chinese or Peruvians on that level. It's a little sad but it also reinforces that we're doing the right thing at Rancho Gordo.
Since there wasn't a lot of interest at the conference, we spent most of the time site-seeing and Zacatecas is a great place to do just that. Cristina Potters of Mexico Cooks described it to me as a "Four day town" and she's right. Most of the municipal buildings, and countless others, are made of a neat pink stone that just makes the city glow. It has the same colonial feeling as Guanajuato but it doesn't feel as crowded.
Like Guanajuato, Zacatecas doesn't have a grand food reputation. One anonymous friends described the city as "The gateway to the north, so of course the food takes a nosedive". I think that's a little extreme and I'd assume there was a lot of great food in the homes. There's a famous dish called "Asado de Boda", which is a mole with little bite-sized chunks of pork but I found it cloyingly sweet. We had a few fair meals but it was the meal in the mercado that was the best for me.
For this meal, I ordered the meatballs; something I never do. They were perfect. Of course the good beans helped.