Pastes, Soccer and other Welsh Gifts to Mexico

Phyllis Marquitz is a food-industry professional. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, her job relocated her and her family to Mexico City, where she had the opportunity to enjoy, understand and appreciate the local culture and flavors first hand. These gracious guests were in turn, a gift to Mexico- they are vocal Mexico enthusiasts, even to the point that Phyllis’ husband is the editor of soccer blog, soccer mexicanaPhyllis is also a long-time reader of La Vitamina T.  The pasties she is referring to in her article, are known as ‘pastes’ in Pachuca, Mexico.

By: Phyllis Marquitz

Welsh leek soup served in my Mexican pottery bowl to celebrate St. David's Day
Welsh leek soup served in my Mexican pottery bowl to celebrate St. David’s Day

Today is St. David’s Day, a Welsh holiday, which you can read about thanks to Wikipedia here. My husband (Jason) and I have Welsh heritage. We are both from a coal-mining region in Pennsylvania that had an influx of Welsh and Cornish immigrants in the later part of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. I’m always looking for an excuse to pair food with learning for my kids. We honor the day via the kitchen at our house.

So what does that have to do with a food blog that is primarily about Mexico? Well…St. David’s happens to remind us of Mexico too, now.

In February 2011, our family made an unplanned move to Mexico City for my job and stayed for a few years. Neither of us had spoken Spanish previously and it was a big change. Unlike mine, Jason’s work left him with little opportunity to practice Spanish or interact with locals. He turned to a natural outlet: sports. A long-time Liverpool fan (he used to wake early EST to watch), he went about researching, Google translating, and trying to find his Mexican team. He found it and bought season tickets to Cruz Azul. He would scour the internet for English information about opponents and the league and eventually settled on filling the void himself. His blog, Soccer Mexicana, was born and I watched Jason fall in love with Mexico one game and one city at a time.

But this blog is about St. David’s Day and Mexico… and food. That is because after returning from an away game in Pachuca when I interrogated him about the street food, I learned something amazing. Instead of tacos or tortas, the food stalls on the road to Pachuca’ Estadio Hidalgo were full of pasties.  Unlike the low-spice Methodist-church fundraiser versions we were accustomed to, these had chilis blended into the filling,  I’m told. He didn’t bring me one.

Now, before I go further and tell you that the Cornish have been credited for bringing soccer to Mexico when they came to work the silver mines, (and specifically to Pachuca), I should mention that the pastie is actually Cornish. They have a Protected Geographical Indication for the thing in the EU! Apparently the Welsh version is called an “Oggie” lamb (and I add veggies) pies in a crust with a rim so that it could be carried into the mine and held without dirty hands putting coal dust all over the rest. To this I say, “potato, potahhhto” Welsh and Cornish share a Celtic language and much much more in common. And for us…well…the pasties were Welsh. (although when the Prince of Wales visited Pachuca last year, the media declared it Little Cornwall)

It is all a testament to how food shapes our experience. So today is about us: Welsh Pennsylvanian… Mexican!


Prepping for St. David’s at my house: Leek Soup and Pasties (Oggie?)

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