One of the things that’s become an indispensable part of my travels is photographing the food I eat. Eating is such an integral part of the travel experience for me now, that only photographing landscapes simply won’t do. The most notable part of my recent trip to Chiapas, Mexico, was a stop at La Casa del Pan, a vegetarian Mexican restaurant in San Cristobal de las Casas run by Kippy Nigh. La Casa de Pan emphasizes local and organic foods, and the restaurant grows much of the food it serves. I bought Kippy’s cookbook, A Taste of Mexico, about 5 years ago, never imagining when I bought it that I would one day meet the author. We talked about food and her restaurant, and she was kind enough to take a picture with me.
It turned out that the day we arrived at La Casa del Pan was also El Dia Nacional del Maiz (National Day of Corn). To celebrate the occasion, the lunch buffet menu was filled with corn-themed dishes. This meal was the most delicious meal we ate during our trip. The first thing we ate was this wonderful corn soup, made with little balls of masa, fresh corn, and herbs, including chipilin, which one can pretty much only find in Chiapas. It was a very special soup! With the soup, we ate bread freshly made at La Casa del Pan’s bakery.
Next, the salad bar. The menu included a multitude of wonderful salads, including green salad with cilantro dressing, an apple and beet salad, a corn salad with blue and yellow corn, a sweet potato salad, jicama and cucumber, cauliflower salad, and several others.
Next, the main event. This was a corn pudding, with what I believe were poblano peppers, eggs, and maybe cream? I couldn’t quite identify all the ingredients. It was served over a layer of a smooth tomato-based sauce.
Last, but not least, corn for dessert! We had a corn-based cake that was just the right level of sweetness–not too much, not too little. I also ordered cafe de olla (sweetened and flavored with cinammon and other things).
We also had breakfast twice at La Casa del Pan. I ordered a fresh juice called El Vampiro, made with carrots, beets, and I think parsley. I also ordered scrambled eggs with a “cuernito” or a croissant-like bread. It was so buttery and delicious!
Another place we love to eat is 100% Natural, a Mexican chain of restaurants emphasizing fresh, good quality food. We ordered a vegetarian omelet and “German” eggs. I also ordered a “Hierro” juice (Iron), with spinach, beets, and carrots.
The last outstanding restaurant we visited in San Cristobal was El Caldero, a restaurant that serves only caldos, which is Spanish for stew or soup. I was thoroughly impressed with the fact that most of the 15 or so caldos on the menu included a vegetarian option. The avocado we had at this place was perfectly ripe, and was enough to make a some satisfying tacos with the hot corn tortillas they gave us.