Sunday, February 04, 2007

Birria and variations

Birria revisited
Among the wonders of La Cocina Mexicana are the regional variations. In Tangancícuaro, perhaps 85 miles from Pátzcuaro, we found at least two very different types of birria.

Yesterday, we visited Tangancícuaro, Michoacán for the first time. We ended up having our second meal of birria, having breakfasted on it from the first stand just inside the left side, as you enter the Mercado de Antojitos in Pátzcuaro.

The Pátzcuaro birria is in an unthickened but savory chile broth. The meat is kept in a sort of steamer kettle, submerged within the caldo. The cook was just opening for the day's business, so at first we ate this birria "al natural", putting only chopped onions on it, and for the masochistic, some salsa amarilla de chile manzano. Later, the cilantro appeared, but we were finished.
I also had a media porcíon de lengua, which was firm and tasty.

The birria at the plaza in Tangancícuaro, though, was something like large slices of beef pot roast, or, tongue, if you wish, in a thickened, very mildly spicy tomato sauce. Our friend, Sr. Alfredo Río, calls it "calduda".

This version of birria would have been ok, although rather uninteresting to me, had it not been for the wonderful condiments on the table. There was a sort of dry salad of tomato cubes, onion shreds, cilantro, just piqued enough with chile manzano. There was a saucer of small, green, chiles, with a somewhat grassy taste and media picante. Huge bowls of salsas anchored the ends of the table. To my left was a fresh, Salsa Mexican, but I did not try it. To my right was an equally large bowl of salsa verde de tomatillo, with plenty of picante punch and a full complement of cilantro. This salsa was so good, that I bought a bolsita to take home with us.

We ended our meal by buying some locally made pan dulce, vended from an umbrella-shaded pushcart, then adjourned to a dulcería, where we purchased substantial amounts of jamoncillos, flanes and fruit ates.

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