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Annual fair aims to bring back a neighborhood’s golden years

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The director of Tourism and Economic Development, Carolina Cárdenas Sosa (right), talks with Elda Rodríguez González, of “La Lupita,” about the Fair of the Chicharra. Photo: Courtesy

Mérida, Yucatán — A small southwest neighborhood, known for its flair with fried pork parts, will be home to an annual celebration of their culinary specialty.

The city has formed a team to meet with the colonía’s chicharronerías and tortillerías in Xcalachén to work out details of the Annual Chicharra Fair.

The first Sunday in July is a likely date to hold this celebration, according to city officials. They have to move fast.

Chicharra is ready for a comeback in a small Mérida neighborhood. Photo: Diario de Yucatán

A chicharronería is a small shop or restaurant known for its production of chicharrón (crispy inflated pig skin) and chicharra surtida, a taco with a mix of chopped pork belly and bacon, noted the late David Sterling on his Los Dos cooking school website. The chicharronerías evolved in order not to waste any part of the pig. Its crispy deliciousness is also as a natural byproduct of rendering lard.

chicharronería basically serves the leftovers of freshly slaughtered pigs: organs, skin, ears and even faces are processed in enormous vats of pig fat. The fat melts while the pork pieces fry until golden, said Sterling.

Carolina Cárdenas Sosa, director of tourism and economic development, said that Xcalachén is a neighborhood with great tourist potential, with its cultural and culinary tradition passing from generation to generation.

A story in the local broadsheet sparked interest in one neighborhood’s specialty.

The tradition began in 1950 with the chicharronería El Rey (King) David on Calle 95 at 62. This is where Manuel David Rodríguez Sierra together with his wife, Elda María Valdez, worked. The pair is deceased, but their legacy continues elsewhere in the neighborhood.

In the 1960s, ’70s and part of the ’80s are said to be the prime years for the chicharra, when at least seven shops competed in Xcalachén. Now there are just two.

Since 1997 the La Lupita chicharronería, owned by Elda Teresita Rodríguez González, has operated at Calle 93 and 64. La Flor de Xcalachén is the other one, at Calle 95 between 64 and 66. It has been open since 1960,  owned by José Antonio Cauich Andrade and his wife Mercedes Guadalupe Vera Moo.

Business owners said that a story about the fair, published in Diario de Yucatán last week, drew new customers — a promising start for Xcalachén.

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