Josh is taking the virtual reins for this post by reflecting on a fabulous prehispanic vegan cafe we visited during our trip to Mexico earlier this year.
Sorry to do this to you, but you will be green with jealousy.
Take it away, Josh.
A couple of hours east of Mexico City, in the shadow of the spectacular Popocatépetl volcano, lies the fascinating town of Cholula. Located on the outskirts of the city of Puebla, Cholula is a moderately popular tourist destination thanks to the largest (by volume) pyramid in the world smack bang in the middle of town. A lot of the pyramid remains unexcavated (and has a church perched on top) so it doesn’t necessarily look as impressive as the pyramids at Teotihuacán, but our tour guide informed us that there are actually several pyramids built one on top of the other. I’ll spare you the details as you can read all about it all on Wikipedia if you wish or better still, book a flight and visit yourself. As you’ll see below, you’ll be glad you did…
After consulting the Happycow listings for Cholula, FGV, Anna and I were delighted to read about a place called Teotl Amayetzin, owned by a vegan couple and specialising in pre-hispanic vegan cuisine. Intriguing, no? The place was a little hard to find and after knocking on several doors and asking in a local shop, we finally found some gates in a low, orange building next to a bicycle shop. The gates opened and we were greeted by the friendly Gilda who ushered us inside to a small but welcoming dining room coming straight off the street. The kitchen is at the back of the room and Alex was busy cooking but took the time to come and introduce himself to us and tell us what the restaurant was all about. He explained that he and Gilda were vegan and that the restaurant paid homage to the pre-hispanic Mexican food from Aztec and other cultures that existed before the Spaniards came. Alex told us that much of the pre-hispanic diet was vegan as dairy products were unknown and very little meat was consumed. He was incredibly excited to his share his cooking with us and explained that there was no menu as it changed every day.
We sat down and were soon greeted with homemade lemonade topped with chia seeds. It was refreshing, delicious and a wonderful palette-cleanser for what was to come. Soon we were each given a bowl of delicious black bean soup which we quickly devoured. As soon as we’d finished the soup, our empty table was quickly filled again with a green pepper/soymeat dish with a homemade tlacoyos (like an extra thick corn tortilla). This was so delicious the table fell silent as we all enjoyed the perfectly seasoned soymeat with bites of the crispy, warm tlacoyos.
Once again, our empty plates were whisked away and replaced with more delicious concoctions. Unfortunately we didn’t get good photos of all the food but suffice to say that it was all incredible. After this was repeated a couple of times we were really struggling to cram any more food into our mouths and we reluctantly had to tell Alex and Gilda that we couldn’t eat any more. We got the impression that they would have just kept bringing food out to us indefinitely! Alex insisted that we finish our meal with some delicious atole – a hot drink made from corn, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. As we were sipping the hot atole, Alex and Gilda came and sat with us and chatted about the town, the pyramids, vegan food in Mexico etc. They were truly wonderful hosts and they were determined to provide us with an unforgettable experience.
We returned the next day for lunch and again the food kept on coming until we couldn’t eat any more. Some highlights were the soychunks in rich mole sauce served with fresh corn tortillas. Again, a variety of drinks accompanied the meal including a cup of cinnamon-topped rice horchata and water flavoured with fresh fruits and berries. Once more, everything was spectacular and Alex and Gilda were friendly and accommodating. When we had finished eating, they asked if we would write something on the wall of their restaurant. They explained that since they had opened a few months previously they had asked all their customers to write something. Our bellies were full and it was getting close to siesta-time so we struggled to come up with something meaningful and articulate that would truly convey how much we loved the place . We did our best but poor old FGV was so tired and sleepy that his misspelled the word restaurant!
If you’re ever in this part of the world, be sure to visit Alex and Gilda. This is truly a unique dining experience in a magical place. ¡que lo disfruten!
4 Poniente 510-C, entre 5 y 7 norte frente al Billar de la 4, San Pedro, Cholula, Puebla
Phone: 22 25 24 79 83 or 22 23 17 77 76