Puebla: Colonial Colors, Perfect Pozole, and Lucha Libre

I came to Mexico for Mexico City and Oaxaca; Puebla was simply not on my radar. In fact, to be completely truthful, I hadn’t even heard of Puebla before this trip. But the tour I signed up for – Intrepid Travel’s Mexico Real Food Adventure – included a night in Puebla. And so, to Puebla I went.

It became apparent very quickly that Puebla was a town that deserved to be much more on my radar. Upon arrival, we made a loop around the city to get oriented, and I fell in love with the town’s vibrant colors and colonial architecture right away. Lord knows I’m a complete and total sucker for buildings painted in rainbow colors!

For lunch, a few of us made our way to a restaurant offering chiles en nogada, one of Puebla’s traditional dishes. The dish is comprised of a poblano chile stuffed with meat, fruit, and spices, topped with three ingredients representing the three colors of the Mexican flag: nogada, a walnut-based cream sauce (white); parsley (green); and pomegranate seeds (red). Delicious, and educational!

In the afternoon, we continued exploring town, ducking into many stores and coffee shops along the way in order to find temporary respite from the scorching afternoon sun. We also spent a while at a local craft market, and while I didn’t buy anything there, I was happy to see it was just as colorful as the rest of town.

During our walk, we stopped to try tostadas from a little hole-in-the-wall storefront, cooked for us by two Mexican grannies without a lick of English. After much miming, a seriously delicious batch of tostadas were ours.

In the late afternoon, I found myself in the park in the center of town. The park was a hub of activity: children playing hopscotch and tag, vendors selling snacks and toys and gigantic balloons, and more than a few young couples enthusiastically making out on park benches. I grabbed a free bench, sat, and read (and people-watched) for an hour. It was lovely.

For dinner, we tried pozole, a traditional Mexican soup made with hominy, meat (I opted for chicken), and various veggies. We also tried chalupas – which were far, far too spicy for me – and horchata, a drink made of almonds, milk, and cinnamon.

My day in Puebla culminated in the most bizarre of ways, at a lucha libre show. Lucha libre is basically Mexico’s answer to the WWE, except way lower budget and way more entertaining. The atmosphere was insane: a super rowdy crowd, vendors hawking all manner of outrageous goods (including the mini wrestling figurine pictured below; I couldn’t resist), and a lot of over-the-top wrestling. The performers wear spangly outfits, use the boundary ropes as slingshots, and pull each others hair. It was weird and wonderful.

In the morning, we had a super hearty breakfast (enchiladas for me), which I noticed throughout my trip seemed to be a trend with Mexican breakfasts. After early morning carb and cheese loading, we did a bit more exploring before heading on to Oaxaca. Isn’t the minty green building pictured below just the dreamiest?

Though just a day is probably not enough to do it proper justice, my time in Puebla was a treat. It’s not necessarily the most exciting of cities, but Puebla is, at the end of the day, really lovely. It might be under the radar, but that doesn’t mean it – and its cavalcade of lucha libre stars – aren’t worthy of your time.
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