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Connoisseur's Guide · North America · mexico · Veracruz · The incredible taste travels of Sirmais

Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

Author: Ilze Lasmane-Brože0 COMMENTS

Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

Geographically, Veracruz forms a narrow strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico. Veracruz is also Mexico's oldest and historically most significant port, the one where the first Spanish conquistadors once came ashore. Already from distance, sailing in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, they could spot the 5636 m high Pico de Orizaba looming majestically at the horizon, as if reaching the very roof of heaven.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

As they came ashore, they were amazed by the truly unthinkable fruitfulness of this verdant land. The incredibly diverse vegetation of Veracruz surpassed anything that they had ever seen or could imagine! The state of Veracruz produces almost half of the country's citrus fruit harvest, offering the largest variety of them - lemons, oranges, tangerines, mandarins, limes and grapefruit. The region is most favorable also for coffee, tobacco, bananas, sugarcane, corn and coconuts and it is the main mango producer in Mexico.
Jalapa, the capital of Veracruz, is considered to be the home of the famous Jalapeño peppers, while vanilla, the most beautiful plant of this country comes from the territory inhabited by Totonac Indians.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

It is the only place in the world where vanilla has ever grown historically, in its natural environment. Yet the specific bees that once pollinated tropical climbing vanilla orchids are extinct now and orchids are nowadays pollinated manually. It does require patience and it is worth seeing this process with one's own eyes. For the best experience, you should search for local people directly engaged in vanilla cultivation as it's the best way to savor the stirring mysticism that enfolds vanilla orchids.
Since vanilla orchids grow wild, twisting their way around orange trees, this adventure would start with immersing yourself into an orange grove. Sweetly fresh citrus scent fills all your senses there, infusing happiness and giving calm and energy all at the same time.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

We meet Ipolite and Louise who are spending their nights in the woods when vanilla blossoms, thus not to lose any time at all. These people pollinate every yellowish-green flower by hands, with joy in their eyes and hearts overflowing with love. At the same time, it's far from being their only chore - they grow also oranges, agaves and sugarcanes. It is pleasant to observe farming that is done at natural pace, without any rushing and artificial stimulation of plant growth. People take great pride in their work, quietly and deep in their hearts, without vanity. In June, Vanilla Festival takes place in Veracruz and erotic and alluring aroma of vanilla draws visitors from across the world.
Fruit that ripen under Veracruz sun are unbelievably rich and juicy - like nothing you have ever tried before, but it's impossible to consume them too much. Contrary to banana plantations that seem quite industrial, citrus groves are created by nature. They form a scenic landscape with plants freely intermingling - sugarcanes grow underneath citrus trees, cactuses are scattered among them and village dogs are roaming amidst of all that.
Right next to Jalapa there is a small town of Coatepec - the Mexico's famous coffee district with numerous coffee roasteries. It's not easy to find familiar tasting coffee in Mexico that would please our taste buds, yet Coatepec coffee is a real treat, indeed! Here and there, your nostrils catch an enticing aroma of coffee whiffing in the air, while walking along narrow streets of the small town. It comes from countless coffee roasteries where local masters turn green coffee beans into an aromatic wonder, doing their job with great pride and respect.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

A must-taste coastal treat is an incredibly delicious tomato-seafood soup, which is made with shrimps, squid and many other ingredients that can be extracted from the depth of the sea. This spicy soup, also referred to as a "return to life", is both refreshing and strengthening and just perfect after a long day under the sweltering Mexican sun.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

Among restaurants, Casa Bonilla (, operating ever since 1939, is a perfect place to drift away from one's daily reality. It's equally popular both among locals assembling to watch a football game and soap opera stars. Even the President himself, if he happens to be in the area, would gladly enjoy the fabulous fare of Casa Bonilla along with the overflowing warmth and sincerity of its personnel.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

Maize is the crown and the staple ingredient of Mexican cuisine. It is almost mythologized and is regarded as the food of the gods and the source of civilization. Yes, it's believed that the man has come into being from maze! Ancient aboriginal people ate corn straight from cobs, until Spanish missionaries arrived. The servants of God, along with Christianity, brought also some north of Spain recipes and taught people new ways of cooking corn and other local products.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

In general, Veracruz features a fusion of many culinary cultures - from the local one to French-inspired trends in Mexican cuisine. One can observe also a significant Caribbean impact. Lively Caribbean tunes can be traced also in music, adding more flavor to the overall cultural cocktail.
While being in Veracruz, you shouldn't miss out on trying mezcal - an authentic drink made in Mexico. It is produced in small quantities and is stronger than tequila, but is distilled from agave, too. Mezcal is savored with an orange, salt and chili.

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

Mezcal seems to be the only drink, which is consumed straight, as Mexicans usually prefer refreshing cocktails, like Margarita, Vampira and Poloma, the latter one being the most popular. It is made of tequila and lemonade, adding a pinch of salt and lime. Salt is added to most of the drinks in Mexico, perhaps to help the body to retain water.
It turns out that tequila is not a Spanish invention at all. Already Indians knew how to make beverages from agaves, just not as strong as tequila. Spaniards taught them the distillation process, which they had borrowed from Arabs while being under their rule. Therefore the distillation has come to Mexico from Arabs, while it is considered that Arabs themselves didn't use it to obtain alcohol but to extract aromas. Mexico is a real crossroad of cultures with influences from across the world!

Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla Foto: Citrus scent and erotic vanilla

There is yet another interesting fact about the Indians. It seems that the image of Indians with feather headdresses and pained faces is cultivated by movies but does not necessarily reveal the truth. The indigenous people have worn white pants and peacefully gone along their daily lives until the Spanish conquistadores arrived. They used signs and colors to mark the representatives of various tribes to be able to tell them apart. Thus the colors came along with Spaniards and do not actually reveal authentic Mexican customs.

The 'Sirmais: Cult Dishes' programme is produced with the financial support of the RIMI retail chain and AmericanExpress at the Mistrus Media film studio.Produced by Ilze Lasmane-Brože (GSM: 00 371 29104652; e-mail:

Photos: Epatastudio

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