Pozole, as common these days in Mexican restaurants as tacos, has a long history in Meso-America. Originally a ceremonious dish prepared with the body parts of sacrificial victims and shared among the citizens to celebrate a military victory, it was served to Spanish missionaries who loved it and wanted it popularized. They dictated that pork be substituted for human flesh (apparently the two share common flavors) and Pozole never looked back.
It is composed of a complex and perky meat-broth redolent of slow-cooked, extra plump hominy-grits (elote) and a variety of tender morsels of pork (including tongue, my favorite). It is topped with finely shredded cabbage and lettuce, as well as onion, sliced cucumber and radish, with tostadas and the ubiquitous salsa and lime on the side.
I became attracted to Pozole in Oaxaca where I spent some winters in the seventies. They serve it late at night out of street stalls to somewhat-sober-up the drunks before they go home. Slurping right along with the best of them, I was treated to a taste that seemed to bespeak the aromas of this very fragrant country. I became a big fan.
In Vallarta, I chanced on a wonderful version that is served idiosyncratically inside chef Teresa’s home between two and six p.m.; but only on Saturdays. Talk about something you need to schedule. And get to: Teresa’s is on a side street of Palo Seco, not particularly a barrio with which many ex-pats are familiar (some fifteen minutes from downtown, and taxis know where it is).
If you make it there, you’ll get as authentic a family-dining experience as there is (except that you get to pay at the end). You’ll share the dining table with others, and you’ll chat with Teresa and her daughter-in-law Anna as they concoct some magic in their open kitchen. They offer a variety of local tortilla-based specialties, and of course the soup, a big steaming pot of which reigns over everything.
The meal-size pozole is 70 pesos. The memory, priceless.
(in her own dining room; open 2-6 p.m., Saturdays)
Calle Guillermo Prieto #233,
Palo Seco, Puerto Vallarta
Call ahead: 322-224-4398
photo by Algis Kemezys