My Memory of Christmas in Mexico by Chef Susie Jimenez
Now my life is very different as a chef in Aspen and it’s hard to imagine the way that I once celebrated Christmas with my family in Mexico. But this story brings fond memories of my family and all the traditions that we put together every year. Although I don’t go to Mexico to celebrate these traditions anymore, these traditions are very much a priority amongst my family in the town that I’m from.
Days leading up to Christmas, our town in Mexico called Torrecillas, would put together the most festive celebration. The entire town streets were filled with colorful flags, we would build cabanas to create a Bible scene and all the youngsters would start to practice for the dance called La Danza, which is a traditional dance in a form of prayer to the Virgin Guadaloupe.
This dance took weeks to synchronize, and costumes were made to look like Aztec warriors. My dad, sisters, and I have all done this dance in the past.
Christmas Eve would start out with the entire town getting together with candles and singing songs throughout our town as they pass by all the cabanas that were built. The dancers would come from behind dancing and celebrating our traditions. We would all end up at the beautiful church for a Christmas church service. After church service, we would all go to our grandparents’ home to celebrate with our families, which in my world was over 40 people.
As kids, we had to stay up until midnight to open up our presents and it was really hard at times, but my grandma would make murmuelos to keep us up, which are awesome tortillas glazed with caramel sauce. The tradition of having tamales, pozole, and freshly made tortillas with different meats to create tacos as part of our meal spread. My favorite was when my mom would slowly steam Selsos, cow brains, and cheek meat complimented by Presidente brandy that my grandfather hid in his shed, along with cold Coronas and the good tequila. It always ended with a piñata that we would destroy to get the candy out of before we got to open our presents and go to bed.
Our Christmas in Mexico was never about gifts, but about keeping traditions. The whole town came together to make this a festive day. My grandmother is the only person alive now, and unfortunately, she is already in her late 90s and can’t keep these traditions going. It’s sad to think that some of these traditions are going to die, but we still have our memories to hold on to.
My twist on Pozole:
This is a green version of pozole made with chicken, not very traditional but it’s my twist on this amazing stew. Although we had a red pozole with pork, I feel like this is nice and light and you can have it all winter long.
Chicken Green Pozole
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
2 carrots, peeled, and small dice
1 large red potato, peeled and small dice
2 celery stalks, washed and diced
3 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 yellow onion diced
1 yellow bell pepper diced
1 jalapeño diced
1- 8 ounce can of tomatillos, place in a blender and blend for 20 seconds
4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
2 limes, juiced
1 tablespoon cumin
In a large pot, drizzle a quarter cup of Grapeseed over medium heat. Place carrots, celery, onion, bell pepper, and potato and stir for about five minutes. Then add jalapeños, tomatillo mix, and 4 cups of stock. Cook over low medium heat for about 20 minutes then add your chicken, lime juice and season with salt and cumin. Cook for another five minutes just to bring the chicken up to temperature. And serve with the following condiments.
1 cilantro bunch, washed and chopped
6 radishes, washed and sliced into rounds
3 limes, cut into wedges
Warm corn tortillas or tostadas.