Gone to greet Pope Francis, that's where.
We were still in ice bound New Jersey, when Jennifer Rose emailed me that the event date had been moved up from the end of February to the very weekend, February 13-16, when we would be flying home. Morelia was also in full, enthusiastic preparation for the coming visit of Pope Francis. It seemed to be an ill–conceived twist of planning,
In the article I read that the organizers wanted to take advantage of the huge increase of visitors to Morelia during the Pope's visit. This seemed to me a poorly thought out concept, for two reasons:
1. People would come to see the Pope during his circuit through Morelia, not to browse the booths at the Encuentro and eat comida tradicional.
2. Advance publicity of the change of date was nearly non–existent. Anyone showing up at the Encuentro venue on the previously scheduled date would be dismayed.
3. Speaking of venues, there was a change this year from last year's relatively compact, more intimate setting at the grounds of the Centro de Convenciones to the extra jumbo, over–the–top* MultiCentro Las Américas, on Avenida Camelinas, between the Holiday Inn and the HI Express.
*(Even more than over–the–top, the central dining tents brought to mind a big top circus. I admit that the tables and settings were quite nice.)
We went on Monday, the next to last day. The following day would see Papa Francisco's arrival to Morelia. The Encuentro grounds were thinly populated with visitors. At the end of our visit an informed spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, told one of our group that attendance was down from last year's.
Efficiency tended to replace charm. But we did get a warm welcome from the ticket sellers.
Soon after we entered the grounds, I sensed that much of the magic had fled. There was a general listlessness that seemed to cloak even the dedicated and talented cocineras. Nevertheless, there were some positive aspects to the event.
|Where are the visitors?|
|One, two, many capirotadas|
|A fine kettle of fish|
|Birria on the bone|
|Seriously big birria|
|Condiments for birria|
|Barbacoa de Borrego a la Penca|
|Tacos de Barbacoa|
Sra. Cuevas got a gordita rellena de queso y un taco de huaraz (Chayote roots, battered, fried and sauced.)
|Gordita de queso, L; Taco de Huaraz, R.|
Besides the capirotada, there were a limited number of desserts.
Odd, crumbly bolitas de ajonjolí and possibly amaranth.
The buñuelos appealed but when eaten, resemble flavorless bits of paper with a light, nearly tasteless syrup.
My final thoughts on this year's Encuentro are that we hope the organizers keep in mind the tradition and the intimacy of the event and not try to make it fit oversize grounds. And please, choose the date more carefully.