There are two places named Cocula in Mexico, one in Guerrero that has been getting unfavorable press due to events that may or may not have occurred at its garbage dump. Cocula, Jalisco, on the other hand, has other more enviable claims to fame.
For one, it is renowned as the birthplace of modern mariachi music, but its inhabitants are also keeping the region’s gastronomical heritage alive.
Families such as that of Carlos Eloy Acosta Preciado have been dedicated for generations to the preparation of birria de chivo, a goat dish prepared with lots of spices and chiles and baked for several hours in a traditional oven.
Says Acosta: “. . . we’re proudly Mexican, and we love to keep our traditions alive, our great gastronomic heritage. We adhere faithfully to traditional recipes and accompany our dishes with the quintessential national music: mariachi. We offer flavor, folklore and tradition.”
Acosta said his current operation began when his grandfather and uncle began selling birria in the 1960s. His parents then managed the business for some time, before Acosta and his brother took over.
Today, he said, “we usually prepare 80 kilos of meat, although that can increase to 150 kilos on Sundays or holidays.”
Acosta calls his particular preparation of the traditional goat dish “birria tatemada,” meaning roasted or grilled, although the process entails baking the spiced goat in a traditional earthenware oven with firewood.
Preparation can begin as early as 4:00am by firing up the oven, “as it can take up to two hours before it reaches its optimal temperature.” In the meantime, the goat is killed and its meat salted and marinated.
The meat is then placed in casseroles and left to bake in the oven for up to four and a half hours. It is served in its own broth combined with tomatoes, onion and lime, along with a hot sauce made with chile de árbol and the family’s own seasonings. Refried beans and handmade tortillas complement the meal.
Goat birria is the most widely known, but the Acostas also prepare it with beef and pork, “and even chicken, as we sometimes cater to private parties and reunions.”
The spicy goat stew, which originated in the state of Jalisco, not only makes a tasty meal but is reputed to be effective for countering the effects of a hangover.
Source: Excélsior (sp)