Hidalgo has a couple of pueblos mágicos: magical villages. During my first visit to Mexico my Mexican family took me there immediately. And yes, they are magical. We went to all of them and ended up in Real del Monte, an idyllic little village that consists of 18th Century buildings and old mines. Real del Monte got its name during the Spanish domination over Mexico (Real – Spanish Kingdom). The village is surrounded by mountains, which explains the ‘monte‘ part of its name. To my humble opinion, of all pueblos mágicos in Hidalgo this is a special one due to its history. In fact it is also called ‘little Cornwall’ because of the presence of Englishmen in the 19th Century.
After Mexico’s independence, a lot of Mexico’s mines were out of use due to a lack of capital. Because of that people were negotiating with foreign countries in order to fill the underground passages again. Consequently people from Cornwall, United Kingdom came to Real del Monte. To indicate how many people there were: There is even a special cemetery for those carrying the English nationality who died in Hidalgo. In this way, family members could easily find there beloved deceased, IF they could manage to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The cemetery consists of more than 700 graves which are all faced towards the United Kingdom.
As can be seen, quite a few people from abroad lived in Hidalgo and that’s the reason why, until today, you will find people with blue green eyes and light skin colour over here. Besides a mixture of people with different (European/Mexican) features, the presence of foreigners has caused one of the typical dishes of Hidalgo: los pastes. In Real del Monte and Pachuca this is still a typical delicacy.
A paste is a kind of bread, traditionally filled with potato and chicken. This was very easy for the miners – it was quick and nutritious. Nowadays, pastes are also filled with meat, pineapple, mole, rice, tuna, chocolate, etcetera. For Latin-America fans: a paste looks a lot like an empanada (outside of Mexico also very popular in other countries), but if differs in the way of preparation. The filling of a paste is always stuffed in raw, whereas everything that goes into an empanada is prepared on forehand.
In Real del Monte you will find yourself in the situation of having difficulties to choose a restaurants to eat pastes. There are many! The restaurants located on the marketplace near the main church are all very good. The pastes are delicious, cheap and you can get some delightful drinks such as hot chocolate milk. The last may be necessary, since the temperature in this village can drop to 10 Degrees Celsius and below because of its location in the mountains. Some restaurants are decorated with memories that show the connection between Mexico and the United Kingdom. This makes it even more fun to eat pastes.
So whenever you are around Hidalgo, don’t forget to try a paste!
© 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Ahorita YA. All rights reserved. Photos © 2015 by Debbie Vorachen – Ahorita YA. All rights reserved.