Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Babe is Back! Tales of Dodgy Doughnuts in San Miguel de Allende

I will admit, I left for San Miguel de Allende with visions of Mexican pastries piled up high on silver trays and delivered with elegant little tongs while sitting in carved wood chairs, possibly with a lone guitarist strumming in the corner. "Another cinnamon snail, Senorita Pastela?" Why, yes, thank you! But as with all adventures, they rarely turn out as one expects. San Miguel is a beautiful town with many sublime little corners of old beauty. But it is micheladas, a wicked refresco consisting of a base mix (tamarind? V-8? Every bar has its own secret mix), beer, lime juice, and a salted rim that seem to be on every menu, and a raft of highly edible savories that populate every table. Not so much with the cupcakes and cafe lattes. But as I said, it may not matter much in the end. When in Rome...

While it's true that I did cavort on ancient pyramids, witness the amazing pageantry of the vaille de maize celebration, and stroll about ridiculously photogenic cobblestone streets in a michelada haze, I did also find a few sweet nibbles. Mexican pastries for the most part stay away from butter and veer toward light and flaky. The cinnamon pastries mostly seem to be more like rolls with flakes of whole cinnamon bark scattered throughout.

Cake tends to be decorated with elaborate fruit toppings that are very edible (but I beg you, make sure it is from a good source. Unwashed fruit = pain).

On the outskirts of town, out in the suburbs, you can find larger supermarkets with goodies for sale.

But in all seriousness, the very best pastry I ate in San Miguel de Allende was sold from the back of an old Ford truck with bounteous rows of fat doughnuts and custard horns lined up. The local doughnut lady pulls up by the church, opens the back of her camper shell, and the whole neighborhood knows to descend and claim a haul of plump pillowy goodness. Dodgy? Perhaps. Legal? Who knows! No photo evidence shall be tendered; the identity of the Queen of Mexican Doughnuts is mine alone to know. But trust me, she is there, on dusty cobblestone streets, amongst a cacophony of street dogs, chickens, church bells, and backfiring '72 chevies. But you will have to venture outside the picture-perfect town center to find her. Such pastry rewards are for the brave, my friends. For all others, there's always a cold michelada and a bowl of chips looking out on the peaceful Jardin. Hey, either way works for the babe!

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