Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Journey Continues Through Jocotenango and San Antonio Aguas Calientes

Photos in this page by galasdeguatemala.com, used with authorization.
Since our last stop was Antigua Guatemala, I think that we should travel around it. The closer town is Jocotenango, which was named because of the abundance of jocotes (hog plums) in the region. 
According to some authors, the name comes from the kakchiquel voices "xocotl" and "tenango", being the last one a suffix widely used across Guatemala that means "place with abundance of" and you will be delighted, especially with some jocotes en miel, which is like a jocotes preserve made with panela (a solid piece of boiled and evaporated unrefined sugar cane juice, also known as rapadura and piloncillo, among other names).
If you would like to learn about the whole process involved in coffee production, while in Jocotenango a visit to the Cultural Center La Azotea is a must. The center includes a small coffee plantation, an equestrian club, a museum dedicated to the customs and costumes of the villages nearby, a museum dedicated to the Mayan music and musical instruments, and of course, a museum dedicated to the coffee industry in the region.
In the town of Jocotenango we can also find clay pottery, being the specialty in this field, the reproduction of fruits in big sizes, piggy-banks in the form of owls (for good luck), butterflies and birds. They also make fine wooden fruits.
A few kilometers away from Jocotenango, we will find San Antonio Aguas Calientes, which has a beautiful handicrafts market. The specialty in this town is the textiles, which are acknowledged all over the country for the high quality and beautiful designs.
The central square is lovely. You will see there a public washing fountain, whose circular and silent tanks keep the secrets of the women that come to wash their family's clothes and talk...

The most popular customs are related with religious festivities, which in addition to the usual paraphernalia, includes Pepian, one of the most traditional dishes in this region. Despite the long list of ingredients, the preparation is not complicated, so I promise to translate into English one of my proved and approved recipes to post it here this week.
Once again, my mouth is watering thinking about the gastronomical feast this unique dish means.
And, why not? Let me guide you to Parramos (a small town that doesn't belong to Sacatepequez, but is close enough to be included in our visit) to enjoy a succulent home made meal at La Posada de mi Abuelo, a cozy hostal in the middle of a coffee plantation.

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