Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday in Xela: Dinner and Party Time!

Do you see the moon? That is precisely the moon that inspired the Huehueteco (the name for people born in Huehuetenango, another department in The Highlands that we will visit soon) Francisco Perez to write his most remarkable composition: Luna de Xelaju, a waltz composed to be played by a Guatemalan Marimba; however, the melody and also the lyrics are so beautiful that many players and singers along Latin America have played and sung it with different arrangements. Today, I will share with you two versions. I hope both of them work properly. Here is the first version, a classical one.
Now, shall we go out for dinner? If you are more interested in modern and eclectic places and food, I would recommend then the Pasaje Enriquez, one of the outstanding buildings across the central park that offers several options for dining, drinking, and even dancing in the Salon Tecun. At certain time, the place may turn out a little bit noisy since it is a favorite among young people.
Without leaving the central park area, you will also find more options suitable for every palate and budget, in a range that goes from hamburgers and pizza to veggie specialties.
If quite contrary, you are a traveler eager to learn about local culture and discover new flavors, I would recommend to look for a typical food restaurant. It's been a while since my last visit to Xela, so I am going to say that the best way to find the nicest place with good local food, would be by asking locals or at the hotel. What I do can tell you for sure, is that local food is beyond worthy.
One of my favorites is Jokom (also known as jocon), a simple yet flavorful recipe, great to innovate (just as I have done in several occasions): as finger's food, use chicken thighs and more consistent sauce; as an appetizer, use boneless chicken breast cut in cubes; as a meal, use a whole chicken (to obtain the maximum flavor) cut in pieces.
Do you remember I told you that Xela is a good place for some salsa dancing? Well, while cooking our delicious Jokom, here is the second version, kind of irreverent but cheerful  salsa/tropical arrangement for Luna de Xelaju.

Basic Jokom Sauce for 1 Whole Chicken (or 8-12 thighs)
My own version to be served as soup, before the main course.
In about 4-6 cups of water, precook the chicken with a stalk of celery, a carrot, an onion, a couple of garlic cloves, salt and pepper. Discard the vegetables. Reserve the stock for the sauce.
Blend together with the chicken stock, until the mixture is smooth: 1 cup of peeled and lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, 2 cups of fresh culantro, 2 cups of fresh green onions, 1 green bell pepper, 1/2 cup of miltomates (husks removed), and 2 cloves of garlic. Optional: green hot pepper. Everything has to be raw, otherwise, the sauce won't be of a vibrant green.
Combine the blended mixture with the chicken stock (you decide how soupy or thick you want the sauce), bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, let it simmer for 5 minutes, add the chicken pieces and simmer another 5 minutes. If necessary, before adding the chicken, you can thicken the sauce with white bread crumbs.
To serve it as a meal, add on the side Guatemalan-style rice (long grain rice with peas and fine juliennes of carrots, string beans, and red bell pepper) and if possible, white "steamed tamalitos" (small like-fistful portions of  corn dough softened with a little bit of lard or vegetable oil wrapped in young corn leaves).
A good resource to find out what's going on in Xela, is, a friendly site with lots of information about almost everything and everybody in Quetzaltenango.
Enjoy your weekend!


  1. Excelente Erim, felicitaciones por tan bien documentado articulo, lo he disfrutado tanto.

  2. Gracias por su comentario Coco. Me alegra que lo haya disfrutado.


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