Pachuca is a mining town about 90km to the north east of Mexico city. Google map here. I stayed for just one night in August 2015. Although on the face of it the town looks pretty grim, I found the town’s culture and history to be really interesting.
To begin with it is the site of the Mexico’s largest piece of public art; the macro mural of Las Palmitas. The state government paid an artists’ collective to paint 209 houses in the barrio to form a composite mural on the theme of “la bella airosa”, (“the beautiful breezy city”), which is Pachuca’s nickname. I got my driver to take me to a viewpoint on a pedestrian bridge over the motorway so I could get this shot.
Of particular interest to a Brit is the influence of Cornish miners who came to work in Pachuca from 1824 and well into the next century. They brought with them many cultural influences and introduced several sports to Mexico including chess, cricket, golf, rugby, tennis and most importantly football (soccer). As a result Pachuca has the oldest football club in Mexico (founded in 1900) and considers itself to be the cradle of the Mexican game.
The miners also brought culinary influences, in particular the famous Cornish pasty, known locally as ‘pastes’. The thick braided crust of the pastes allows miners to hold and eat them without having to wash their hands. The shape and pastry is exactly the same as the pasty but often has Mexican fillings such as mole, beans, chicken, pineapple and lamb mince with poblano peppers. They differ from Empanadas in that the fillings are not cooked before they are encased in pastry.
I was determined to sample as many of these as I could in the short time I was here. There are many bakeries around town but my friend Nick, a travel writer who specialises in Mexico, recommended this restaurant as being the best place to try them.
Restaurante La Blanca (Intermediate B+), Morelos 201, restaurantelablanca.com
A pleasant traditional restaurant in the city centre. It wasn’t that busy on the Wednesday I went so the service was good. I had the Pastes Manjar Minero, which was indistinguishable from a classic Cornish pasty, except that it was served with Salsa Verde and fresh lime. It was the taste of home that I’d been yearning for (A) and the Mexican condiments worked really well with it.
I was less keen on the Enchiladas Mineras (enchiladas stuffed with chicken, and served with green salsa, lettuce, radish, cheese and cream) but they were basically okay (C+).
For the journey home someone bought me another batch of pasties from one of the many takeaways around town (see my Google map) this time with Mexican fillings, but they weren’t quite as good.
In the square next to the restaurant you’ll find the Reloj Monumental, a clock tower donated by a wealthy Cornish man. It has the same machinery and chimes as Big Ben and is a symbol of the city.
Up north next!