Tacos, Tacos, Tacoland
Cultural Symbols of Altos de Jalisco and Arandas: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo
Curious facts about Altos de Jalisco and Arandas
• The Altos de Jalisco region is made up of the Altos Norte and Altos Sur regions, consisting of a set of highlands — a large plateau that rises to over 6500 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level.
• Most of the Alteños (inhabitants of the area) are descendants of Galician Spaniards who established this land as a birthplace for their families during the colonial era.
• The municipality of Arandas is located in the central eastearn part of Jalisco.
• During pre-Hispanic times the region was inhabited by Tarascans and Chichimecas.
• Arandas was founded in 1761, and is believed to be named after a one of the first Spanish families to arrive.
• It was farmers and artisans of Spanish origin and later Austrian and French who settled in the north of Jalisco between the Arandas and Tepatitlán mountains; and those of Comanja and Laurel, in the state of Zacatecas.
Four reasons why Altos de Jalisco and Arandas are unique
1. The best quality tequila is produced here.
2. Festivals honoring their famous patron saints preserve the traditions and rural flavors of the region.
3. Charrería is beloved here. Charrería, a widespread practice dedicated to traditional methods of raising and herding cattle on horseback, combines horsemanship with forms of rodeo and equestrian activities.
4. Many agree that the most beautiful Mexican women are found here in the Altos de Jalisco. A special blending of Spanish, French and Mexican characteristics have given rise to many famous models and beauty queens.
Not-to-miss celebrations in the Altos de Jalisco and Arandas
Each state of Mexico has its own festivals and traditions, reflecting the culture, beliefs and unique histories of the region. The carnivals and fairs held in the Los Altos area are mostly related to religious tourism.
1. January Festivities in Arandas are celebrated from January 4 to 12, in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Included in the main events are concerts, charreria and bullfights.
2. The Carnival of Jalostotitlán takes place from February 11 to 21. In this celebration, skirmishers and charros are presented (the women and men who practice charrería), and a carnival queen is crowned.
3. The Tepatitlán Livestock Expo happens from April 12 to May 1. This is where everything and everyone related to livestock comes together. Ranchers, producers, breeders and farmers in the region gather for exhibitions of cattle, goats, horses and pigs.
4. Independence Day Festivities in Arandas are held in September, the same as in all of Mexico. In honor of the Cry of Independence, parades, horseback riding through the streets and various other shows are performed.
Five typical foods and restaurants in Altos de Jalisco and Arandas
Tacos al pastor at Taquería Arandas and Tacos Chepe
Carnitas at Carnitas Jaime
Carnitas consists of pork parts (stomach, cheek, rib and shoulder) marinated and fried in their own fat.
Birria de chivo at Birria Camarena
Lamb or beef can be used to prepare this dish. The rib and/or shank parts are marinated with a mix of guajillo, ancho and chipotle chilis, although some use the morita chili instead.
Menudo at Las Quince Letras
This “stomach soup,” also known as menudo or mondongo, is a typical broth that is prepared with beef stomach and guajillo chili.
It is a typical dessert from the state of Jalisco. It is made from milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar.
Borrego al pastor
This traditional dish from Jalisco involves cooking the sheep on a rotating spit using firewood, resulting in a soft and juicy meat served in a hot broth and accompanied by corn tortillas.
Five typical drinks in Altos de Jalisco and Arandas
This cocktail owes its name to the way it is prepared and presented: in a clay pitcher. It is made with white tequila, salt, grapefruit soda, lemon and orange juice, and lots of ice.
This fermented drink is prepared with the juice and peel of pineapple, and sugar.
This drink is made by pouring white tequila in a bottle with Coke and then capping and shaking it until it foams — to be consumed immediately. A whole experience in Arandas!
In a tall glass, serve white tequila, plenty of ice and limita juice. Limita is a local, seasonal citrus fruit, which is only produced in Arandas.
Charrería and horse culture in Altos de Jalisco and Arandas
Charrería is a traditional practice in communities throughout Mexico dedicated to raising and herding cattle on horseback. It combines equestrian arts and discipline with traditional livestock practices. Originally, it facilitated coexistence between farmers from different states of the country. The techniques of this practice have been transmitted from generation to generation. It was categorized as a sport in the early 20th century.
Charrería is one of the main sports unique to Mexico, and was named by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Its characteristic elements, such as the typical colorful suit, the well-trained horse and the rope, are not seen in other disciplines.
And, Altos de Jalisco has, arguably, the most robust and enthusiastic culture of the sport, with at least one charreada (charrería event) per municipality every weekend.
Jimadores and tequila culture in Altos de Jalisco and Arandas
In Altos de Jalisco and Arandas, a large number of its inhabitants are dedicated to the selection and cultivation of agave; this special type of farmer is known as a jimador.
Not surprisingly, Altos of Jalisco is the ideal territory for cultivating the famed blue agave, used to produce the world’s best quality tequilas. The region’s perfect composition of elements begins with the soil, largely made up of igneous rocks like basalt, tuff and volcanic breccia. Next enters the ideal elevation of the plateau of Los Altos. The semi-warm and dry winters have a perfect average temperature of 66°F (19 °C). The area also has steady water resources during the rainy season and a wealth of natural flora — as seen in its dense forests and wide-ranging native species. All of these factors combine to create the ideal environment for exceptional tequila.