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Michoacan – The Heart of Mezcal Country

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About Michoacan

Michoacan is one of Mexico’s oldest states, boasting a long and storied history in mining and agriculture. It’s the winter home to the Monarch butterfly migration and attracts many tourists who come to experience its culture and cuisine.

This state was the birthplace of many of America’s leaders, such as Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla and Jose Maria Morelos y Pavon. Additionally, it served as a test-bed for social reform during President Lazaro Cardenas’ 1930s administration.

  1. Atapakua

Michoacan is one of Mexico’s most fertile and diverse regions, boasting some of the country’s renowned avocado producers as well as chickpeas, lemons and sesame seeds. Additionally, Michoacan ranks highly for sugarcane production and corn cultivation.

Atapakua is a beloved traditional dish of the Purhepecha people of Michoacan. It’s part of their diet and one of Mexico’s most beloved dishes.

Stew made with meat, vegetables and masa de maiz (corn flour) is called masa de cecina or cornbread stew. It may be served with either chile verde or guajillo and usually eaten with tortillas or corundas made of corn bread.

The name “Atapakua” comes from the Spanish word for “tap,” or “spoon.” This spicy and nutritious dish is easy to prepare and popular among residents of Michoacan.

There are various ways to prepare this dish, but the most popular involves mixing corn and beans with various local fruits and vegetables such as onions, chiles and tomatoes. Finally you add cilantro or hierbabuena and cook until hot.

You can also season this dish with various spices, such as garlic and chilli powder. The combination of ingredients will enhance its flavor.

Michoacan boasts numerous venues to sample the delicious cuisine of its indigenous people. Imelda Campos Sebastian, in particular, has dedicated her life to spreading these traditions and recipes from her Purepecha community.

Her restaurant offers classic Purhepecha cuisine in an inviting setting, making it the perfect spot to sample local specialties. Additionally, she runs a food tour that includes tastings at her restaurant and visits to her home in Tzintzuntzan.

It is a town whose residents are determined to preserve their ancestral way of life despite years of incursions by illegal loggers and drug cartels who seek to clear land for lucrative avocado plantations. In April 2011, they rose up against these forces, lighting 189 bonfires across the city in protest. Their bravery and steadfastness have become legendary throughout the state for standing up for what they hold dear.

  1. Churipo

Churipo is a spicy meat-based stew that’s a staple of the Purepecha people of Michoacan, a region in central Mexico known for its rich cultural heritage. It’s often a festive dish and is served at weddings, funerals and other special events.

The name of the dish comes from the word “churipo,” a Mexican word that means “slow cook.” In Michoacan, the meat is browned with garlic and onions then simmered in a blend of chiles, including guajillo peppers, as well as other vegetables like chayote and tuna. It is usually served with corundas, pyramidal tamales filled with cheese and a poblano pepper.

There are many different tamales in Michoacan, but one of the most popular is the uchepo. This tamale is made with tender fresh corn, ground on a curved stone surface called a “metate.” The uchepo is then wrapped in corn leaves and steamed. It is typically served as an accompaniment to pork prepared with tomato and chile or bathed in cream.

Another tamale typical of Michoacan is the corn tamale, which is filled with meat and chile similar to those in other parts of the country. It’s also sometimes filled with a local cheese known as doblecrema, and it’s traditionally served plain or with Mexican cream.

Other dishes of interest in Michoacan include a classic dish called pollo placero, which is made with chicken fried in lard and served with enchiladas mineras or enchiladas queretanas. This dish is a regional favorite and has been around for centuries.

It is usually eaten with a side of steamed white rice and a piece of tortilla on the side. There’s also a dessert called chongos zamoranos, which is a syrupy sweet curdled milk dish with a creamy texture.

If you’re traveling to Michoacan, be sure to try charanda, which is a smooth and sweet alcoholic spirit that is distilled in sixteen municipalities across the state. It’s a bit like rum or mezcal but is distilled from sugarcane and enjoys Protected Designation of Origin status.

If you want to learn more about Michoacan’s cuisine, be sure to check out the Exposition de Gastronomia y Bebidas in Zamora. This is an event that allows you to see the best of local food and drink while also learning about the history of the region. You can even sign up for a guided tour and take part in the festivities.

  1. Morisqueta

Morisqueta is a hearty and comforting dish composed of white rice, cooked pinto beans, and an aromatic tomato sauce. A staple in Southwestern Mexican cuisine, it can easily be made at home.

This dish can be served as a side to any meal or even on its own. Vegetarians can easily adapt this recipe by substituting dairy-based queso with almond or cashew cotija.

Michoacan restaurants often serve it with pork ribs as a classic main course. Cenadurias are homestyle eateries that sell daily supper specials prepared in large batches for customers to enjoy.

Fall is primetime for this dish, which makes it ideal for chilly nights and easy to prepare.

Morisqueta, a traditional Mexican dish, can be made vegan-friendly by substituting chickpeas or tofu for the pork and using plant-based crema instead of dairy-based Mexican cream.

You can find this dish in many Mexican restaurants and street food stalls. Typically, it’s served with salsa and sour cream for added flavor.

If you’re a fan of strong flavors in your dishes, aporreadillo is an excellent option. This spicy Michoacan-style stew can be found at several restaurants and is often featured at weddings.

Another popular Michoacan dish is atapakua, a pre-Hispanic Purepecha stew thickened with masa. Traditionally made with vegetables and legumes, today it’s more often made with beef or pork.

Atapakua is one of the most accessible dishes to find in Morelia, but you can also order it at various Mexican restaurants and street food stalls around town. Depending on where you eat it, you may get it served with fresh corn, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), or sorrel.

Morelia offers plenty of classic Michoacan dishes to sample, such as corundas, uchepos and grilled fish tacos. All are easy to locate.

If you’re in search of an authentic Mexican meal, Birrieria Apatzingan in Pacoima is a must-visit. Led by head chef Martin Cruz – born and raised in Apatzingan but now living in Los Angeles since 1989 – this restaurant features many traditional dishes from his hometown that have been prepared with care over decades.

  1. Charanda

Michoacan is home to many exciting artisanal distillers who craft natural rums known as Charanda. While you might not expect such activity in the heart of Mexico’s famed Mezcal country, there are pockets across its diverse micro-climates where sugarcane can be perfectly suited for rum distillation.

One of these rums comes from Uruapan, Michoacan where the Pacheco family has been making Charanda for over 111 years. Miriam Pacheco continues her family’s Charanda tradition and works to protect and preserve its local cane distillation method.

Charanda is a protected denomination of origin spirit, meaning it can only be produced in 16 municipalities within Michoacan state. Distilled using 50% fresh cane juice and 50% molasses, this elixir has an aged history dating back centuries.

Sugarcane used in this rum is grown at high elevations (above 4,000 feet) on a deep red soil type known as “Purepecha.” The name comes from the native Purepecha language and translates to “red soil.” Rum can be distilled from fresh cane juice or molasses, but must come from an exclusive location.

Unlike other cane spirits in Mexico, this rum is distilled from the entire sugar cane plant – including its leaves and stalks. The finished product has a white hue with an irresistibly buttery sweetness and subtle amber undertones.

Charanda has been on a path towards rebuilding in recent years, and it is beginning to gain popularity among agave spirit connoisseurs. Now more accessible for everyday drinkers – great news for anyone on the fence about trying this spirit out!

Miriam Pacheco has been striving to create a new Charanda that will appeal to more consumers. She is passionate about this rum and always looking for ways to improve it.

Pacheco has a great passion for her local community and strives to build bridges between the distillery and avocado industry. She even started a music program for kids in her area to prevent them from joining gangs. Furthermore, Pacheco sends the spent fibers from pressing sugarcane to an organic composting system used by local avocado farmers


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