Of all the different traditions we’ve come across on our travels, Carnitas Sunday is the first one I’ve found that I can truly get behind.
For the uninitiated, carnitas are slow-braised pork shoulders cooked in lard, herbs and their own juices, roasted in an oven and then pulled apart into the most delicious, melt-in-the-mouth taste sensations known to man.
Although the dish can be eaten throughout the week, it’s traditionally shared between families on Sundays just like the good old British Sunday roast. So while it might seem as though Mexico and Britain have very little in common, we are, in fact, two nations brought together by weekly meat sweats – is there anything more beautiful than that?
Our first Carnitas Sunday was undertaken with great ceremony with our friends Kelly and Jim. We picked up a kilo of carnitas from the Embajadoras market and found, to our delight, that they give you a huge chunk of meat to sample while they’re packaging everything up. It’s like pacifying an impatient child with a lolly, except the lolly is made of meat and the child is 35.
The next step was to buy a bag full of fluffy, crunchy bolillos1 sold out of a basket on the street. You can eat carnitas with tacos too, but I find that bolillos are much better suited for holding together the sides and sauces piled on top of the meat. That, and I still haven’t quite got over my taco fatigue yet.
A top tip I picked up from Jim – clearly already well-versed in carnitas etiquette – is to rip out the doughy middle of the bolillo and throw it away. Not only does it mean that there’s more room for packing meat inside your sandwich, but there’s also less of that pesky carb stuff around to fill you up before you’ve had your optimum level of carnitas.
The only thing missing is to add some sides to spice things up a bit.
We mixed a michelada or two, enjoyed the view from our balcony, and prepared to slowly slip into a food coma.
It’s what Sundays were made for.
Note: The carnitas from the weekend market at Embajadoras were good, but my favourite carnitas spot in Guanajuato has to be CarnitaSam. You can find several stands inside Mercado Hidalgo, or go to their brick and mortar place on the high street not far from Plaza de La Paz.