The food of Hidalgo in Mexico is heavily influenced by the ancient, indigenous Otomi people from the Mexico plateau, by Spanish colonials and by the Cornish who came to work in the mines. The food of Hidalgo has also been shaped by the state’s three distinct regions and climates. A Spanish legacy can be seen in the cuisine of the arid highlands, while the cuisine on the warmer eastern side of the State and the lowlands features more home grown tropical produce.
Traditional food of Hidalgo
Hidalgo’s traditional inhabitants, the Otomi, were excellent farmers and hunters. They grew corn, beans and chillis. Today, Hidalgo proudly produces one fourth of all the green chillis in Mexico. As hunters, the ancient Otomi would catch rabbit, dear, possum, squirrel, wild duck, and a variety of game birds. In arid areas, armadillos, maguey worms and reptiles were also hunted as food. Traditional animal and plant foods are still eaten in Hidalgo including edible insects and lava like cicadas, tadpoles and ant eggs – considered a delicacy. Mesquite beans and nopal (a type of cactus) also feature.
Barabacoa – the state dish of Hidalgo
When the Spanish arrived in Hidalgo, they brought cattle, pigs, sheep and goats for farming. The dish Barbacoa is a legacy of the Spanish arrival. The dish is traditionally seasoned goat or mutton smothered in pulque (an alcoholic beverage made from the maguey plant) and wrapped in maguey leaves then baked in a pit. It is considered to be the state dish of Hidalgo.
Tamales in Hidalgo
Popular corn masa stuffed snacks – Tamales – come with a wide variety of fillings in Hidalgo. Piltamales, stuffed with sweetcorn, are popular in the mountains while Zacahuil, a metre-long tamale containing suckling pig, turkey or chicken seasoned and wrapped in banana leave for slow baking, is served on the lower eastern side of Hidalgo.
Cornish Pasties in Hidalgo
In the 1800s, English miners came to work in Hidalgo’s silver mines, brining Cornish Pasties with them. In Hidalgo, the locals created their own version called paste (PAH-stay). They are stuffed with a variety of fillings including potatoes and ground beef, apples, pineapple, sweetened rice, or other typical Mexican ingredients.