September is well known in Mexico as the “homeland month”, because on the 16th we celebrate our independence from Spain (and some other Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua do as well) and partying begins from the earliest hours of the 15th all around the country.
As good Mexicans, all the celebrations are about food, drinks, friends, family and singing with mariachi traditional songs; you can simply feel the adrenaline going through your body when the President in turn, appears on the balcony of the National Palace and starts to ring the big bell and shout “viva Mexico, viva!” such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla once did about 201 years ago.
Not thinking about all the problems that afflict Mexico these days (violence, insecurity, poverty, etc.) which makes me think deeply about our real liberty and independence, I must say that the happiness that this exact holiday brings to Mexican people is such a peculiar one. Sure, people are proud and happy of being “independent” but obviously they are even more happy because they get a long weekend off, can go to the beach, can “dar el grito” (shout viva Mexico!) with family and friends, and of course, because there is unlimited food and drink to enjoy (or I must say drink before food? Haha!)
Speaking about food, September is the perfect and most suitable occasion to prepare one of the most traditional, marvelous, delicious and colorful dishes that represent our country: the Chiles en Nogada (poblano peppers in walnut sauce). And, long story short: they were created when the nuns of the Santa Monica convent in Puebla, wanted to make a dish with local and seasonal ingredients to celebrate Agustin de Iturbide’s victory and declaration of independence over the Spaniards. He later became Mexico’s first president.
It’s quite easy to prepare them once you have the poblano chiles clean and ready to stuff (that’s the part that will take you the most time to do) and the effort is worth trying too! They are a perfect combination of savory, sweet and spicy (and depending on the chile, the level of heat), all the flavors that we Mexicans simply enjoy.
Here is my mom’s recipe, a little revised and I think, improved! I hope you enjoy- y que Viva Mexico!