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A piece of Britain lost in Mexico

[2018年6月3日] 来源:BBC双语阅读 作者:Lauren Cocking   字号 [] [] []  

As I squeezed my way through the crowd, Marion Symonds was busy crimping one side of a 4.5m-long pasty in the central plaza. All eyes were on this Cornish baker as she held the still-malleable pastry shell in her hands, delicately crimping the edges of the dough with her fingertips to seal in the beef, potato and onion.

Looking at the sloping red roofs and manicured gardens around us, you’d have thought Symonds and I were somewhere in our native England. In fact, we were in the tiny town of Real del Monte in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo. At the other end of the oversized snack, a local chef was crimping the Mexican way, slapping the pastry shut with the side of a hand atop a table.

To understand why a giant Mexi-Cornish pasty was being made in an English-looking town in central Mexico, we must go back two centuries to what Bridget Galsworthy Estavillo of Mexico’s British Society calls ‘the backbone’ of the story: the arrival of Cornish miners in Mexico.

In the early 19th Century, Cornish tin miners were known around the world for their state-of-the-art mining equipment and, consequently, their expertise in operating it. As such, they and their advanced machinery were called to Mexico by the Company of Gentleman Adventurers in the Mines of Real del Monte to help mine silver, Galsworthy Estavillo told me. After landing in Veracruz on Mexico’s east coast in 1825, the first wave of Cornish miners made the 400km journey west to the Central Highlands of Mexico where they set to work extracting silver, simultaneously establishing tight-knit British communities and welcoming new waves of Cornish migrants practically each year up until 1840.

While Galsworthy Estavillo was quick to note that “the first wave [of Cornish miners didn’t come] out of desperation,” many later arrivals were driven by necessity, as a direct result of the discovery of tin in Bolivia and Malaysia in the 19th Century. This led to the closure of many of Cornwall’s tin mines and kicked off a severe economic slump that left miners with little option but to make their way to pre-established Cornish diaspora communities overseas, Mexico included. 

As the miners established Cornish enclaves, they also began to cement their legacy in Hidalgo, introducing those oh-so-English sloping roofs and their beloved pasties.

But these aren’t the only reminders of Real del Monte’s centuries-old connection to the UK. According to Galsworthy Estavillo, ‘the pride of Real del Monte’ lies in the Panteón Inglés, known in English as the Cornish Cemetery, located on a hilltop overlooking the town. The cemetery, in which all but one of the graves face north-east towards England, is “quite unique. It’s beautiful, it’s poignant,” she told me. The single askew grave belongs to a Yorkshire-born mining engineer (not English clown Richard Bell, as local rumour might have you believe), and you can thank awkward tree roots for throwing it out of whack, Galsworthy Estavillo explained.

By the early 20th Century, Hidalgo had the most British transplants of any Mexican state, and Real del Monte isn’t the only town that bears the stamp of their influence. Roughly 14km west, in Hidalgo’s capital city of Pachuca, the Bancomer bank – one of several edifices funded by influential former Cornish miner Francis Rule – depicts six separate Union Jacks on the parapet, a design choice provoked by city officials who allegedly banned Rule from flying the actual flag outside the building. Yet Rule’s most recognised project is Pachuca’s striking Neoclassical clock tower, whose machinery was produced in the same Austrian factory as that of London’s Big Ben.

There’s one more enduring obsession for which Mexicans can thank the Cornish miners: football. The local custom of a quick kick-about at 16:00 likely originated with the miners in the late 19th Century. This informal appreciation of the game led to the turn-of-the-20th-Century birth of the Pachuca football club, whose original squad was replete with common Cornish surnames like Pengelly and Bennetts. Pachuca is now known as both the country’s cuna del fútbol (cradle of football) and home to the Salón de la Fama football museum, which charts the sport’s Mexican legacy.

But getting back to Real del Monte and that giant Cornish pasty, or paste, as it’s known in Mexico. The Cornish migrants couldn’t possibly go without their mineshaft meal of choice, a hearty blend of meat and vegetables wrapped up to-go in a savoury pastry shell strong enough to survive the journey into the tunnels. So their wives began recreating them in Hidalgo, eventually showing locals how to make the dish. In fact, Cornish pasties took such hold in Mexico that the tradition of passing them down the mineshafts for lunch endured in Real del Monte even as mines were being shuttered in their native Cornwall.  

So it makes sense that each year, in the state that is home to the world’s first pasty museum, local paste makers line the streets as part of the Festival Internacional del Paste to celebrate the Cornish diaspora’s delicious legacy. Eager visitors from across Mexico snap up boxes full of pastes, while Union Jacks and flags bearing the black-and-white Cornish cross flutter in the breeze. Even 8,000km from the UK, I felt somewhat at home – minus the fact I was slurping down a michelada, a spicy, tomato juice-based Mexican beer cocktail.

Symonds, who is based in Cornwall but travels regularly to Mexico, is known in Real del Monte as the ‘Mother of the Pasty’, a nickname bestowed upon her by the ‘Father of the Pasty’ and Festival Internacional del Paste founder, Victor Aladro, thanks to her involvement in organising a similar pasty celebration in Cornwall.

“The law of a Cornish pasty is that it has to have potato, swede, onion and beef. The pastry needs to be firm enough to hold in your hand, and you need to have lots and lots of pepper,” she told me.

The Mexican paste remains remarkably akin to its Cornish forebear, despite the passage of 200 years. The crusts are similar, though Symonds notes that Mexicans use their pastry straight away rather than letting it sit for a day, as the Cornish do. The fillings are where the regional variation is most notable. Due to Mexico’s preference for spicier flavours, and the fact that cultivating swede (a common ingredient in Cornish pasties) there is impossible, Mexican pastes use traditional Mexican fillings like mole (a spicy chocolate and chilli sauce) or tinga (shredded meat marinated in tomato and chipotle pepper sauce). Even classic meat-and-potato pastes have a spicy kick to them, thanks to the addition of poblano chilli peppers or jalapeños.

Today, Real del Monte is part of the Mexican government’s tourism-boosting programme of pueblos mágicos (‘magic towns’) in Mexico. But no matter how many spicy chilli-stuffed pastes I wolfed down against the town’s dramatic mountainous backdrop, the illusion that I was wandering the streets of a quaint English town was tough to break; after all, those sloping roofs, well-kept gardens and pasty shops don’t lie. The Cornish influence endures.

当我费力穿过人群的时候,玛丽安·希蒙德(Marion Symonds)正在中央广场忙碌着,此刻她正把一个长4.5米的面皮从一边折起。所有人的目光都聚焦在这位制作康沃尔馅饼的面包师身上,人们看着她手里拿着充满弹性任其揉捏的面团,用指尖轻轻卷起面团边缘,把包裹在面团中的牛肉、土豆和洋葱封紧。

看着周遭倾斜的红屋顶和修剪得整整齐齐的花园,你一定会觉得希蒙德和我正身处故乡英格兰。其实我们是在墨西哥中部伊达尔戈州的一个小镇米内拉尔-德尔蒙特(Real del Monte)上。在这个体积庞大的馅饼另一头,一位墨西哥厨师正按照当地的做法将它折起,然后用手掌一侧拍打面饼,将合口处压实。

在墨西哥中部这个英伦风十足的小镇上,一个巨大的馅饼融合了墨西哥和英国康沃尔的烹饪技艺,为了厘清这一切, 我们需要回到两百年前,去听一听墨西哥英国协会(Mexico's British Society)的埃斯塔维略(Bridget Galsworthy Estavillo)给我们讲个故事,其主题是康沃尔的矿工们如何来到了墨西哥。


19世纪初叶英国康沃尔的锡矿工人以一流的采矿装备和优秀的采矿技术享誉世界。埃斯塔维略告诉我,正因为如此,康沃尔的矿工们带上他们的先进设备受聘来到位于米内拉尔-德尔蒙特银矿(Mines of Real del Monte)的绅士冒险者公司(Company of Gentleman Adventurers),帮忙开采此地的银矿。

1825年第一批康沃尔矿工在墨西哥东海岸的韦拉克鲁斯州(Veracruz)登陆,向西长途跋涉400公里后来到墨西哥中央高原(Central Highlands of Mexico)。他们在这里开采银矿,同时兴建紧密团结的英国人社区,来迎接每年从康沃尔过来的一批又一批移民,一直持续到1840年为止。




米内拉尔-德尔蒙特与英国长达数百年的渊源却远远不止于此。埃斯塔维略说“米内拉尔-德尔蒙特的骄傲” 在于Panteón Inglés,这在英语中是指康沃尔墓园(Cornish Cemetery),墓园坐落在一个小山坡上,从那儿可以俯瞰整个小镇。

她告诉我,这片墓园中除了一座坟墓之外其他所有坟墓都朝向东北方的英格兰故乡;这个墓园“别具一格,凄美而悲怆”。埃斯塔维略还告诉我,那座唯一没有朝向东北方,有点歪斜的墓碑,主人是一位生于约克郡的开矿工程师(并不是当地传闻所说的英国丑星里查德·贝尔(Richard Bell)),之所以没有朝向英国故土是一些粗大的树根将碑石扭转了方向。

到20世纪初叶,伊达尔戈州已经成为英国移民最多的墨西哥州份,米内拉尔-德尔蒙特也不再是唯一具有英国色彩的小镇。伊达尔戈州的首府帕丘卡(Pachuca)位于米内拉尔-德尔蒙特以西大约14公里的位置。班科默工商银行(Bancomer bank)大厦就在这里,大楼气势恢弘,是颇具影响力的前康沃尔矿工鲁尔(Francis Rule)出资兴建的诸多大厦之一。



民间对于足球运动的热爱催生了20世纪初帕丘卡足球俱乐部的诞生,早期俱乐部的参赛球队很多都以英国康沃尔郡常见姓氏冠名,如彭杰利(Pengelly)或本尼茨(Bennetts)之类。现在帕丘卡被誉为墨西哥足球的诞生摇篮(cuna del fútbol),当地还有一座萨尔曼德拉法马足球博物馆(Salón de la Fama football museum),记载了这项运动在墨西哥的发展历程。




因此也就不难理解:在这个拥有全球首个馅饼博物馆的州,本地的馅饼师傅每逢国际面饼节(Festival Internacional del Paste)都会站在街道两旁展示手艺来庆祝康沃尔移民的美味“遗产”。



希蒙德住在英国康沃尔,不过常常到墨西哥旅游,米内拉尔-德尔蒙特当地人把她称为“馅饼之母”。这个昵称是国际面饼节创始人、“馅饼之父” 阿拉德罗(Aladro)给她取的,因为希蒙德一直致力于在康沃尔举办类似的馅饼庆祝活动。





今日的米内拉尔-德尔蒙特已纳入墨西哥政府的魔幻小镇(pueblos mágicos)旅游促进计划。小镇周围群山如画,无论我在这里狼吞虎咽地吃掉多少个塞着辣椒的辛辣馅饼,我总会有一种幻觉,仿佛自己正徜徉在古色古香的英国小镇大街上,沉浸其中难以自拔;毕竟这里有倾斜的屋顶,整洁的花园和馅饼店。浓郁的康沃尔色彩一直影响着这片土地。

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