Lakeside area foodies with a yen for new taste thrills will get a kick out of a visit to nearby Atotonilquillo this weekend to catch Expo Membrillo 2018, the town’s 25th annual quince festival.
The tangy, high-pectin fruit and its by-products will be showcased in the string of displays to be set around the village square all day Saturday, August 11, and Sunday, August 12. The two-day agenda also features non-stop live entertainment, with musical groups, singers and dance troupes taking turns on stage, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
The most common quince products are different types of jellied fruit paste called ate or cajeta, sliced quince conserva jarred in heavy syrup and a zesty alcohol-laced ponche (cordial).
Ates come either in a smooth, dense type made with juice pressed from cooked quince or the chunky martajada style containing chopped up fruit. They may be formed into rectangular blocks or attractive decorative shapes set in ceramic molds. The flavor pairs up well with many types of cheese for a simple and delectable dessert course.
The silver anniversary fair will feature a composite of different ates put together in a giant block measuring four meters by 75 centímeters, weighing in at about 100 kilos. The monster fruit paté will be exhibited on Saturday and sliced up for public tasting at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Crowds in attendance will come across a variety of quince pies, tarts and turnovers, with some still warm from ovens set up on site. The tasty fruit is also used to flavor tamales, sherbet, yogurt and beverages. Slices of raw quince are typically doused with salt, chile powder and a squirt of lime juice to be gobbled up as a healthy snack food.
Every year the exhibitors dream up new ways of employing quince, concocting original recipes that might merit a special award for gastronomic innovation. They will likewise compete for prizes recognizing the largest and most flawless just-harvested membrillo, the most outstanding ate, the tastiest ponche and best booth decoration. Judging and the announcement of the winners takes place Sunday afternoon.
A visit to the town also offers an opportunity to explore nearby orchards and the ruined San Gaspar chapel, as well as tourist sites in neighboring Atequiza, home to the sprawling hacienda and stately theater built during the glory days of the Porfirian era.
Atotonilquillo is located about 45 kilometers southeast of Guadalajara, just off the highway to Ocotlan-La Barca. Motorists heading there from the metro area drive towards Chapala, veer to the left at the Santa Rosa junction and continue about 11 kilometers to left-hand turn-offs leading into the town. Lakeside residents coming from the opposite direction branch off at the Santa Rosa interchange via the right-hand turn lane just ahead of the overpass.