At the 2010 XI Feria del Mueble Rústico y Textil Bordado (Eleventh Annual Rustic Furniture and Embroidered Textile Fair) in San Francisco Pichátaro, Michoacán, Hugo the canary is ready to hop out of his colorful cage to pull an envelope with your particular fortune out of a box filled with hundreds of others. Hugo and Luis's owner said that we should read the wee paper folded inside the envelope and then burn it--but don't tell a soul what it says or "tu suerte no se haga realidad" (your fortune won't come true). Canarios de la suerte (fortune telling canaries) have been popular in Mexico for long, long years.
Miguel Martínez has been selling home-made cocadas (coconut candy) for the last eight years. He laughed when I asked if they were made in his home. "No, but they're made in somebody's home!" The yellow cocadas at the top of the photo are flavored with rompope (similar to eggnog); the white and brown cocadas are flavored with vanilla and cajeta (similar to butterscotch); the cocada in the foreground is sweetened and flavored with one of Mexico's dessert-making standbys: La Lechera sweetened condensed milk.
In the churchyard, St. Francis patiently awaits the burning of the castillo (set-piece fireworks), pictured in part at the left. The paper tubes are filled with gunpowder. The men who were putting the finishing touches on the castillos said they would be burned at about eleven o'clock at night--nearly twelve hours from the time we arrived at the fiestas. Much as we wanted to wait, we had to leave.
This double bed headboard and its two accompanying nightstands riveted the attention of everyone who saw the pieces. Titled "Siembra" (Sowing), the set was carved by Maurilio Morales Goche. While Mexico Cooks! was talking with the artist's mother, the fabulous bedroom set was deservedly honored with the first place ribbon in the 2010 carving competition. Enlarge any of the photos for a close-up look.
A slice of pastel de fiesta (fiesta cake) is essential to make the party complete. Always dyed in garish colors (Mexico Cooks! is partial to the florescent pink), the cake is layered with thick atole (in this case, made stiffer than pudding and dyed in colors to contrast with the cake). The beautiful little girl in the background is Flor García Aparicio, age three, daughter of the vendor.
Next year you'll have to come along with us to San Francisco Pichátro for the fiestas patronales (patron saint's feast days). You can't miss the furniture, or the fun...or the cake.
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