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Chiles en nogada is worth a summer culinary trip to Mexico

Chiles en nogada are not only visually appealing, they have a delightful, mild spicy taste.
Chiles en nogada are not only visually appealing, they have a delightful, mild spicy taste.
©2009-2014 Photo courtesy of Calamo&Alquimia webzine used with permission

Every year, from July to September, all the restaurants in Puebla – a colonial city located around 80 miles from Mexico City, in the central area of the country – celebrate the gastronomic season of chiles en nogada, which jointly with the mole poblano, is considered one of the preferred national dishes.

So, Puebla is worth a visit during the summer just to taste the exquisite flavors of a mild spicy green chili pepper farmed exclusively in the state of the same name of the city, that is filled with a special mix of ground beef, and native fruits of the state, topped with a creamy sauce made of walnuts and cheese, sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.

A story shared by the Puebla state's tourism office tells us that in 1821, the nuns of the Convent of Santa Monica in Puebla created and cooked upon request of local authorities a dish to make an allegory of the flag that would later become the Mexican national flag. This dish was the chiles en nogada. The nuns offered the dish to Agustin de Iturbide, designer of the Mexican flag as well as at that time, president of the recently founded Republic.

The legend says that one day of September Agustín de Iturbide was passing through Puebla on his way to Veracruz, so he had the opportunity to eat the chiles en nogada and got amazed with its wonderful look and delightful taste. Always according to the tales, it is said that Agustín de Iturbide, later self proclaimed emperor of Mexico, used to eat the chiles en nogada on his birthday. It supposedly started a fashionable culinary habit which derived in a national tradition.

It is a lucky coincidence that it is possible to eat chiles en nogada during the Mexican festivities for the Independence Day in September. However, you can travel to Puebla anytime during the summer to enjoy this great dish.

If you go to Puebla this summer, schedule a visit to the Convent of Santa Monica, currently transformed into a museum. After that, you may go to the city's downtown for lunch. There are dozens of restaurants, which offer great chiles en nogada.

This culinary trip is a must for fans of the Mexican traditions, traveling to this country for summer vacations.