Ajijic Tianguis and Luna Cacau!

Ajijic Tianguis and Luna Cacau!

Nestled deep in the central southern mountains of Mexico is a cluster of villages on the northern shore of Lake Chapala.  At its epicenter is the village of Ajijic.  10% of this area’s 100,000 or so population is an ex-patriot community made up of people mostly from the United States, Canada, and Europe.  Since my parents retired there several years ago, I go down there at least once a year.  Nearly every day there is a “Wow” moment.

A “Wow” moment can be a stellar sunset or an encounter with two giant bulls standing in the neighbor’s garage or a real life cowboy (in full cowboy get up) riding his horse down the street… talking on his cell phone.  There is always something that inspires wonder, laughter, awe, or joy.

horse in Ajijic on lakesidetable

My recent trip was no different.  We went to Ajijic’s annual Chili Cook Off Festival and the first “Wow” was that there wasn’t any chili.  None.  Zippo.  Nada.  Ahhhh Mexico!!!  But there were tons of booths full of leather, artistic kitchen knives, Indian pottery, an iguana, and I met the owner and proprietor of Luna Cacau, Genaro (below) and his family.

Genaro's luna cacau

Luna Cacau are drinking truffle balls made from freshly ground cocoa beans.  They are rich in antioxidants and are mixed with either cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, bourbon, rum, or you can get them simply plain.  

luna cacau on lakesidetable in ajijic
Gerano is showing me how to crush the cacau. That’s his beautiful wife holding their youngest of three kids.

No matter which one you get, they are all delicious!  You pop 3 in a blender with a cup of hot water and blitz.  If you want it cold, add ice after the first blitzing.  Major yum.  I brought some home and whirred it up with a cup of hot Bulletproof coffee instead of hot water and added a tablespoon of Kerrygold butter.  Oh heck yeah! 

luna cacau balls
Luna Cacau drinking truffles
luna cacau on lakesidetable in ajijic
Bulletproof Luna Cacau!

I grew up in the inner city and the closest I thought I’d ever get to an actual chocolate bean was by eating an almond Hershey bar while watching Johnny Depp & Juliette Binoche in Chocolat.  Holding a real life cocoa bean was so exciting!!!  It is the quintessential building block of every chocolate Easter bunny to every international award winning chocolatiers.  It’s a link back through time and history.  Both the Mayans and Aztecs cultivated it for culinary purposes as well as currency.  4 beans could buy you a pumpkin or 10 beans could get you an overnight lady companion.  

luna cacau on lakesidetable
The cacau beans are almond shaped and have a papery wrap that comes off easily.
Cacau bean without skin
Cacau bean without papery skin

So, this was a major “WOW” moment for me, maybe even a little cooler than holding the iguana.  Although, he was pretty cute.

Iguana in Ajijic lakesidetable

The following day we went to the tianguis de miercoles (Wednesday’s street market).  

Ajijic tianguis
Ajijic Wednesday tianguis

Mexican’s are fearless with color!  They pull their inspirations from the vivid fruits, vegetables, chilis, flowers and spectacular sunsets.  Here are some shots as I walked through it.  

Ajijic tianguis

It goes up and down one street and it’s not very wide.  Gringos shop here as well as a lot of the locals.  It’s dog friendly too.

Ajijic tianguis
Here’s a woman selling her tomatoes under a red tarp. When the sun shone through the red canopy, it made the tomatoes a crazy bright red!

Ajijic tianguis

Ajijic tianguis
Even the Little Mermaid would go nuts here at the Pearl Man’s booth.
coconuts in Ajijic tianguis
Fresh coconuts at the Ajijic tianguis
pottery in Ajijic tianguis
You can find pottery and textiles too here.

chilis in Ajijic tianguis

chilis in Ajijic tianguis
Beautiful chilis!
chilis in Ajijic tianguis
These green cactus pears are mildly sweet and somewhat bland. They taste a little like a melon and would be great in a salad or in a mojito.
Tianguis carry out
Tianguis carry out.  These are big pieces of pork and potatoes in a chili sauce.

I was tempted to try this but just couldn’t manage to channel my inner No Reservations.  I’m mighty careful about street food after a near death encounter with an oyster in Macau years ago.  Mr. Bourdain, your career is safe.

At the end of the day, after taking in all the commotion, colors, sights, street music, and general hustle and bustle of the markets, it was utter bliss to go back to my parents’ hacienda, sit on their veranda, and indulge in my most favorite activity in Ajijic…

sunset of Ajijic

Watching the sun set over Lake Chapala.


5 thoughts on “Ajijic Tianguis and Luna Cacau!”

  • This was one of your most interesting articles, Madalaine! You caught the wonderful flavor, a little play on words, of that beautiful community. Salud! Katherine

  • Well, that was pretty fabulous! The colors are wonderful! I can’t wait to go back…I think I’ll go
    tomorrow…..early! Wish you were here!

  • Your photos are wonderful! I’ve seen it, visited it, done it hundreds of time having lived in Mexico now for over 27 years, and 17 of those here in Ajijic. Thank you!

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