Navidad (y cocina) Mexicana at the Vatican

The usual pre-dining question in Italy is: pizza or pasta? But at the Vatican yesterday, Italian tradition was nudged aside and officials dined on chicken in mole sauce, tostados, shrimp ceviche, three very festive flavors of margarita and much more.

 To celebrate the 15th anniversary of relaunching full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, Mexico sent over some of its most typical art forms: sculptures, ceramics and food.

Mexican first lady Margarita Zavala Calderon presided over the evening’s festivities in the Vatican audience hall, just a few hours after she officially presented to Pope Benedict XVI the Nativity scene and four huge angels by sculptor Augustin Parra and the tree featuring hand-painted decorations by Jesus Guerrero Santos. (Click here and scroll down to final two paragraphs.) Pope Benedict XVI looks at a Nativity scene brought from Mexico and displayed at his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 19. (CNS/Dario Pignatelli, Reuters)The Nativity scene and tree — with 415 figures, including baby birds still in their nests — will grace the stage in the audience hall until early February. The four angels will be incorporated into the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square.

The evening’s featured culinary art was entrusted to the care of El Sacromonte, a famous restaurant in Guadalajara.

PHOTO: Pope Benedict XVI looks at a Nativity scene brought from Mexico and displayed at his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 19. (CNS/Dario Pignatelli, Reuters)

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