The imposing reddish structures of the old mines that stand out over Real del Monte, a region of the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, mix with the smells of mining paste, an English snack that arrived in 1824 to the delight of the workers of the land and of thousands of inhabitants who adopted it as their own.
In the mountain corridor in the center of the country, on each corner of the streets of the Magical Town, small businesses release the smell of the cooking of an unmistakable mixture: wheat flour, vegetable shortening, water and salt. The aromas are combined with potatoes and cooked meat, the filling of the mythical mining pastes with its Mexican essence.
In the “mining region”, as the locals call the area, the workers of Cornwall (Corwal), England, considered in that distant nineteenth century as the best miners in the world, left a culinary legacy that today is an emblem for an entire state, a population proud of its three roots: indigenous, Spanish and English.
“It is a mixture of a European tasting, fused with Mexican cuisine,” Pedro Baca, a former miner, lover of English delicacies and tour guide at the Paste Museum of this region located at 2,700 meters above sea level, describes to Efe. from sea.
The leek, potato, asparagus and red meat or salmon were part of the Cornish originals, he recalls. It was the food of those miners brought to Aztec lands by the Cornish company for the exploitation of five gold and silver mines.
In their guangoches, as their backpacks were known, they kept their pastes between 25 to 30 centimeters long and between 14 to 16 wide, with a weight of almost 500 grams, which gave enough strength to the men of the land.
“We liked the idea of their paste, but we made it small with ingredients from Mexican cuisine since 1824,” says Baca, a home expert in the preparation of the delicacy. The Mexican touch was to create two fillings: potato, chili, parsley, onion and meat; and beans with chorizo.
“It is a meal that you crave at all hours, because it lasts a long time hot because of the pasta it contains, because of its basic ingredients that make up the complement of its dough, which is wheat flour, vegetable shortening, water and salt. They keep it warm and have an exquisite flavor”, he affirms.
In short, he says, they basically taste like mining, the legacy left by the British.
The narrow and cobbled streets of the place, protect pieces of mining history in Mexico. Since that almost manual extraction of the Spanish; going through the heavy machinery that the English brought by ship; and the “modern” technology of the Americans.
In the heart of Real del Monte there is a small and cozy place called Pastes El Portal, where English pride is not only perceived in images and objects, but also in the original preparation of the pastries, paying tribute to those English people of the past.
“We work the original English dough, which is what the miners ate inside the earth: potato, turnip, onion and meat, it is the filling of the English paste,” describes Ciro Peralta, who heads the representative place, visited by hundreds .
With 47 years open, a business of tradition, fame and prestige. With dozens of prizes on top, it offers a flavor that reflects love and affection, a delicacy that the English left in the Mina del Monje.
“The person who is going to try the famous cake is going to approve because it is a taste of love, affection and craftsmanship, because it is a handmade cake and that is the flavor that we put on it,” he says, in the midst of the hot ovens where an unmistakable aroma.