3 Old School Dishes You Can Only Find During Lent In El Paso
Our food and culture are linked together here on the borderland, and during the Lenten season, a few exceptional dishes are made exclusively for the season.
Whether you are a practicing Catholic or not, you can only find these three traditional dishes made only during Cuaresma (Lenten Season). They are so delicious they will have you going back for seconds.
I grew up in a Catholic home which meant that every year for 40 days, my family and I observe Cuaresma (Lent) by fasting. During this time, we abstain from beef and pork products and instead alternate between vegetarian or seafood dishes.
Many Mexican dishes that most El Pasoans usually enjoy during Lent include Chile Rellenos, Ceviche, and Enchiladas. Unlike these typical everyday dishes that we eat throughout the year, these three traditional dishes are made exclusively during Lent, including Pipian, Shrimp Tortitas (Croquettes), and Caparitoda.
Pipian is a particular type of mole or sauce usually added to nopales (cactus) or seafood such as shrimp and fish. Pipian is made with pumpkin seeds and is pureed with greens, peppers, chile, and can be made into a red or green sauce – just like red or green enchiladas, but the red is usually the more prevalent of the two types.
Best Pipian Dish in El Paso: Delicious Mexican Eatery has been serving up delicious Pipian with Shrimp Tortitas or Nopales (Cactus) this Lenten season thanks to a generational family recipe.
Shrimp or Potato Tortitas (Croquettes)
During Lent, one of my favorite dishes is the shrimp or potato croquettes, fried patties topped with a light tomato sauce or Pipian accompanied by white rice, beans, and a salad. These airy patties are best served right out of the pan because they cool quickly, but it’s a standard and delicious dish at our family table every year during Cuaresma.
Best Shrimp Tortitas (Croquettes) in El Paso: Café Mayapan Mujer Obrera has an impressive Lenten menu that includes shrimp tortitas.
Capirotada is a traditional Mexican dessert similar to a bread pudding usually eaten during the Lenten period and Good Friday. The dish is either loved or intensely disliked because of its sweet and savory ingredients. There are several different ways to prepare Capirotada. Still, the essential elements usually consist of bolillo bread (similar to a baguette), Muenster cheese, raisins, cloves, cinnamon, piloncillo (Mexican raw sugar), peanuts, or pecans, and spices, among other ingredients. Sometimes condensed milk is added or dried fruits such as dates and or apricots.
The sweet and savory dish holds a very symbolic connection to the Passion of Christ by many Mexican and Mexican-American families serving as a reminder of the suffering of Christ on Good Friday.
Best Capirotada in El Paso: Bowie Bakery offers single and family-size portions of their homemade Capirotada.
These three dishes are but a handful of delicious traditional eats during the Lenten season. Anyone interested in trying more tasty traditional Cuaresma dishes can find them at any local Mexican restaurant in El Paso and across the border.
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