There’s something special about a meal with a designated day of the week. Sunday brunch in the US means a day off from work, a long relaxing morning, mimosas, good food, and good conversation. In Mexico you don’t often see restaurants offering Sunday brunch. Sunday is a day for family, church and home. For many it’s their only day of rest, so they take the rest part very seriously.
Their one-day-a-week meal however more than makes up for the lack of sunday brunch.
Introducing: Pozole Thursday.
Pozole is comfort food. Somewhere between a soup and a stew, Pozole features a rich, flavorful broth, chewy corn kernels puffed with lime, and savory shredded pork. The generously proportioned dishes are served in glazed pottery with a variety of condiments including onion, cilantro, lime, salsas, radishes, and cabbage. Pozole is often laid out with an accompanying plate of tamales, chips, chilies, and flautas. To drink, house made Mescal is de rigueur.
The less regulated cousin of Tequila, Mescal is as varied as the people who make it. Generally smoky tasting from the fires used to roast the agave plants, it can run from rotgut to smooth as ice. At a Pozoleria the mescal will be served in bottles pulled from the large unlabeled vat at the bar, and sipped from shot glasses at the table. Shooting mescal is a serious no-no. That would be the equivalent to going bottoms up on a mimosa the moment it’s set down in front of you. This heady liquor is meant to be savored alongside your Pozole.
In most of the country Pozole is served any time, though especially on holidays. In the city of Zihuatenejo however, Pozole day has taken on the hallowed sancity of Sunday brunch and is served on Thursdays.
Only having one Thursday available to participate in Thursday Pozole, the crew of Half Moon wanted to make it count. We polled locals and long time cruisers alike to find the best spot. The Pozoleria Sta. Prisca came up over and again as the hands down winner.
February being the height of season here in Zihua, we were cautioned to call ahead for a reservation. Being bad listeners, we didn’t and showed up at 1:30 instead with high hopes of getting a table.
Welcome to Sta. Prisca. Named after a saint tortured for her steadfast christianity. Luckily you don’t have to declare your devotion to get a great meal, everyone is welcome here.
We were greeted with the enticing smells of rich broth as we got out of the taxi and immediately knew we had found “the place” for Pozole. Every table was packed with happy diners slurping up Pozole and sipping mescal. The line of eager diners extended up a long staircase to the road. We checked in with the hostess and settled in for a forty five minute wait.
Was the wait worth it? Only absolutely.
Seated at a primo table at the back we settled in for a nice meal. This restaurant works on Mexico time so we had ample opportunity to look around while waiting on our meal. The bar was hopping, locals waited to get their personal containers filled with Pozole to go, and one of the strongest women I’ve ever seen stirred the Pozole with a stick the size of a shovel in one hand and a gallon sized ladle in the other. I don’t think I could even lift that ladle with one hand, much less wield to fill big bowls in a single scoop like as she did.
No one could really explain why in Zihuatenejo Pozole is reserved for Thursday. The closest answer was from a local who stated unequivocally that it was too rich to eat every day and so only served once a week. Others disagreed but had no guesses as to the origins of Thursdays.
Pozole dates back to the Aztecs, for whom corn had strong religious significance, and was eaten only on special holidays, especially holidays that included a human sacrifice. Legend has it that the meat in Pozole came from those human sacrifices, and was only later changed to pork when the Catholic Spanish showed up and put the kabosh on human sacrifice. Apparently pork is the meat closest in flavor to human. It’s certainly delicious.
These days Pozole has expanded significantly from it’s blood soaked origins and comes in three primary flavors. A typical menu will offer red, green, or blanco (or clear). The three flavors are very distinct, and all well worth a try. You can also get your Pozole with the traditional pork as well as chicken or meatless. Asking for human may not go over so well.