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Seasonal taste treats served at Capirotada Fair

Although the 40 days of Lent are considered a time of penance and fasting, one of the guilty pleasures of the season is savoring capirotada de vigilia, a sumptuous Mexican version of bread pudding that is a favorite culinary specialty at this time of year.

pg10aMultiple manifestations of the complex dish will be showcased at Ajijic’s Feria de la Capirotada, coming up on Saturday, March 16, from 2 to 7 p.m., at the waterfront Malecón. Open to the public free of charge, the event comprises a cooks’ contest, with free samples offered to the public, and sales of take-away portions.

Essentially capirotada is a layered casserole composed of toasted bread bathed in syrup enhanced with spices, fruits and nuts. But like nearly all traditional recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques are quite varied according to family customs and personal tastes.

A classic Jalisco-style capirotada is made with sliced bolillo rolls, piloncillo (unrefined brown sugar melted into a dark treacle) infused with cloves and cinnamon sticks, and often flavored with tomato and onion. Those two may sound like odd ingredients for a dessert recipe, but they boost the umami factor.

Cooks usually add prunes, plantains, apples, guavas or other fruits, and a preferred choice of nuts. Different types of white cheese may be used as a topping or a salty component.

A sweeter interpretation is capirotada blanca, using similar ingredients plus a dose of fresh or condensed milk. Gourmet cooks may go out on a limb with more exotic ingredients and fanciful presentations.

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