When there was silver to be mined in Mexico, many from the U.K. came to do the job. Some of them stayed. Among their imports — at least to the state of Hidalgo, less than an hour from Mexico City — were Cornish pasties, known here as pastes. Stuffed and baked, these savory pies are a specialty in Hidalgo’s capital, the city of Pachuca.
However, if you are in Mexico City and hanker for a taste, you need not get on a bus to Hidalgo. On Calle Chiapas in the Colonia Roma, a few steps from Calle Medellín, there’s a cafe called Pastes Real del Monte. Its owners are actually from that mining town, which is just outside of Pachuca, and their product is as good as anything you will find in Hidalgo (and better than most of it).
The proprietor, a Mexican who calls himself Charles (you can find him on duty late in the afternoons), is one of those old-fashioned types who wears both a belt and suspenders. He speaks better English than most native speakers. When I asked him why, he told me that as a child in Real del Monte, some of his teachers were from England.
Yes, there are Jews in Mexico. Supposedly, the first arrived among the Spanish conquerors, men who sailed with Cortés to escape the Inquisition. Today, in Mexico City there are fewer than forty thousand, which makes them a tiny minority in a city of twenty million people (ninety percent of whom declare themselves Catholic).
They are often the object of fascination of Catholic Mexicans. They arrived in greatest numbers in the first decades of the 20th century, principally immigrants from Central Europe, Lebanon, Greece and Syria. They tended to show up penniless, and began selling things on the streets of the centro histórico, soon graduating to shopkeepers and small-business proprietors. Today, most are professionals.
For over a dozen years, Monica Unikel-Fasja (pictured above) has given guided tours of the Jewish history of the centro. She points out, enters, and tells the stories of the buildings that housed the synagogues, jewelry, clothing and textile stores, community centers and gymnasiums of Mexico’s early 20th-century Jewish communities.
You can find out more about Monica’s tours by visiting her website (www.jewishtours.com.mx) or by emailing her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Labels: Mexico City
While looking for things for my apartment in New Orleans, I saw this charming conjunto for $199.99 at Royal Furniture at 2440 St. Claude Avenue. Could this be a testament to the growing popularity of soccer in the U.S.? Most of Royal’s clients are black, but I wondered if this wasn’t a special order for some of the tens of thousands of Mexicans who immigrated to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. They were largely responsible for the cleanup and reconstruction of the city.
Labels: Mexico City
The bottles that contain these charming figurines, of Katrina (Jose Guadalulpe Posada’s symbol of death), Santa Muerte, Jesus Christ and Saint Charbel are no taller than a lady’s pinky finger. Well, let’s say a tall lady’s pinky finger. Their creator can be found many a morning at work, sitting on one of the benches across from the statue of Diana the Huntress on Paseo de la Reforma. His prices are reasonable, and he will even custom make them if you have anything special in mind.