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Oaxaca is Cooking!
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  • Oaxaca is Cooking!

    Post #1 - July 9th, 2005, 3:33 pm
    Post #1 - July 9th, 2005, 3:33 pm Post #1 - July 9th, 2005, 3:33 pm
    I just got back from a second trip to Oaxaca, and thought this would be the perfect place to share the culinary delights of this city and state in Mexico.

    The main reason I went this time was to go to cooking school: Seasons of My Heart, run by chef/author/PBS host Susana Trilling, sounded like a good place to get more up close and personal with Oaxaca's cuisine. It was a great choice. Not only did we spend several days in the splendid classroom/kitchen at Trilling's Rancho Aurora, preparing absolutely fabulous recipes, we also got guided tours of amazing local markets, from small to overwhelming; a scholarly lecture-tour of the Ethnobotanical Garden (the botanical diversity of Oaxaca is greater than that of Costa Rica; Oaxaca is probably where corn was first bred from local wild grains; and it is the home of Mezcal); and a day in the mountains with a group of Zapotec Indian women, who taught us pre-Hispanic cooking, with us pitching in to make grind herbs on the metate, make tortillas by hand, and cook on the wood-burning clay stove.

    But even if you don't want to cook, and just want to eat, Oaxaca is a great destination. All the markets offer terrific food -- and you'll definitely want to try the icecream and nieves (literarly, snow, but fruit ices) -- just be aware that "tuna" means "cactus pear," because tuna icecream might not otherwise sound very appealing. Also, if the weather is not too hot, try the elote on the street -- hot corn on the cob covered in mayo, rolled in chopped cheese, sprinkled with chile powder -- yum (but you may not want to try it on a hot day if the mayo is sitting in the sun). But there is no shortage of sensational restaurants. Traditional places include Quince Lettras, El Portal Del Soledad, El Naranjo (Rick Bayless's favorite spot in Oaxaca), and Catedral. Traditional/fusion (usually Continental fusion, so not as far from tradition as that word can mean here) include the fabulous El Asador Vasco, Marco Polo (only open for breakfast and lunch), and Casa Oaxaca. With drinks, appetisers, main course, dessert, and tip, most meals range from $30 to $50 per person at top restaurants, and are much lower in smaller places or in the markets.

    And the markes are great, from the street of chocolate grinders (for both table chocolate and mole) to the miles of vegetables, chilies, breads, sugar cane, fruit, spices, honey, chocolate, cooking utensils, and more. Be advised, at the Mercado de Abastos, watch your wallet. It's the biggest market in Oaxaca and the 2nd biggest in all of Mexico, and it's so crowded with shoppers that it's paradise for pickpockets.

    There are lots of great ruins and things around the area, to keep you busy between meals. If you're going to the cooking school, any time is fine, but if you just want to go and relax in Oaxaca city, then I'd wait a while, as they've torn up the Zocalo (the main town square), and that's the primo place in town for sitting and watching people, drink in hand, muscians playing nearby -- but with it all torn up, all you get is dust and noise and corrugated iron.

    Buen provecho (good appetite).

    Cynthia
  • Post #2 - July 9th, 2005, 4:00 pm
    Post #2 - July 9th, 2005, 4:00 pm Post #2 - July 9th, 2005, 4:00 pm
    Welcome Cynthia!

    Thank you for your wonderful post.

    I hope someday you may enlighten everyone on the honor of drinking the first mare's milk (horse) at a festival in Mongolia several years ago. While many of us are armchair adventurer's, you are often out and about.

    Best regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - July 10th, 2005, 1:56 am
    Post #3 - July 10th, 2005, 1:56 am Post #3 - July 10th, 2005, 1:56 am
    I was just in Oaxaca in May. I was pretty disappointed with El Naranjo. My best meals (as is often typical on my trips to Mexico) were on the street. Did you get a chance to try tlayudas?
  • Post #4 - July 10th, 2005, 6:02 pm
    Post #4 - July 10th, 2005, 6:02 pm Post #4 - July 10th, 2005, 6:02 pm
    This seems a good time to repost one of the best posts of all time, from the legendary RST in reply to a query of mine in March, 2003. I did most of the things he suggested, and was really, really, happy. RST has given his permission to post this here. See this link for the full CH thread, for now, anyway: http://www.chowhound.com/boards/intl5/messages/18349.html, I will also try to find my report thread and repost it at the end of this:

    ...

    Hey David,
    Sorry it took so long to reply. I remember that you said in your email that you're leaving on the 28th (that's tomorrow!) I hope that you catch this before your flight and that you find these few notes helpful.

    Oaxaca is one of the greatest food cities in Mexico. There is just simply an astounding number of places to enjoy sublime cooking. Even if I had the time, I could not possibly list them all. I'll try to list a few interesting places that I think would be convenient for you to get to from the hotel that you told me you will be staying at.

    There are two famous markets in the city, the Central de Abastos near the 2nd class bus station and the Mercado Juarez/20 de Noviembre, just a block south of the zocalo. All the guidebooks list only these two and neglect to add that there are several other tiny neighborhood markets, many of which hide a few gems of their own.

    One of my favorites among the smaller markets is just up the street from Hotel Golondrinas. The market is called Sanchez Pascuas and is about 3 or at most 4 blocks north on Tinoco y Palacios. The main entrance is actually on Porfirio Diaz but I am very sure that there is a back door on Tinoco Palacios. This is a really mellow place and never very crowded as the stalls are widely-spaced. In Oaxaca, I usually stay at a hostel on Cosijopi and so I consider this MY own personal neighborhood market.

    There is a handful of fondas (food-stalls) on the T y P side of this market and a couple of excellent bakers towards the front. But the jewel of this market is the stall that offers quesadillas/empanadas. It's really nothing more than a couple of tables/benches and a comal set against a wall (the first dividing wall on the right if you come in from T y P). Try to sit right in front of the comal so that you can watch the senora pat out your tortillas and griddle-bake them on the lime(cal)-seasoned/lime(cal)-whitened comal. In the meantime, the other senora will probably be trimming the squash blossoms and getting the quesillo and epazote ready for your quesadilla de flor de calabaza. Since we have discussed and argued this little detail at length on the Chicago board, note that only the trimmed petal (the yellow part) and not one bit of green (calyx, stem, pistil) is used here. This is one of the finest quesadillas de f de c I have tried anywhere but make sure to try their other quesadillas as well (specially the empanada de mole amarillo). There is an excellent vendor of tamales sitting right next to them with a wide assortment of typical Oaxacan tamales, including tamales de chepil (we've discussed this herb on our board). If I remember correctly, the list of tamales is actually painted right behind them on the wall.

    Re: Clayuda/Tlayuda

    This is arguably the most glorious of Oaxaca's many street food forms. It's unique, it's delicious, it's beloved by all and could be found everywhere. Yet strangely enough, I have never seen a reference to it in any guidebook or food-listing for this city. Could all these gringo-tourists possibly be so stubborn about insisting on eating only their stupid resort-style fish tacos and California burritos and their fajitas that they could actually miss this splendor right in front of their eyes? I'm not going to describe it again as we've discussed this extensively on our board. The tlayuda itself (a thin masa "wafer" or disc, about a foot in diameter) could be bought from ladies sitting on the floor near the entrances of Mercado Juarez and crying "blandas, tlayudas". These blandas ("the" tortilla of Oaxaca) and tlayudas are still made painstakingly, in the traditional manner (metate etc) and only from the purest strains of corn. Several places around the market offer the "tlayuda preparada". That is, they turn those tortilla-discs (which look intriguingly a little bit like Mario Batali's Sardinian carta da musica) into the famous snack. They start by smearing one side of the tlayuda with asiento (see Chicago board) and black bean paste and stuffing it with queso natural and a choice of tasajo (air-dried beef) or cecina (in Oaxaca, cecina is always pork). The tlayuda is then crisped over coals on a small grill before being folded over like a quesadilla. During fiestas, dozens of vendors of this specialty will set up make-shift shops in the main plazas and in front of churches.

    A personal favorite of mine for tlayudas is a rather evocative place open only from 8 to 12 at night. The address is:

    Tlayuderia Las Reliquias
    Morelos 402

    This is very close to your hotel (Morelos is 2 or 3 blocks to the south). It's on the south side of the street, east of La Soledad and within a block of the corner of T y P and Morelos. You might consider a tlayuda here as a possible late-night snack. This tlayuderia is actually a little atypical bec it is set-up (as a kind of side business) in someone's private house. You enter through an old wooden gate, cross a beautiful courtyard and head for the corner of the patio where the entire extended family encompassing several generations is sitting glued to the latest episode of some soap opera on the small TV. Someone will offer you the choice of the excellent tasajo or the cecina marinated in guajillo, fan the coals and make you your delicious tlayudas, all the while keeping one eye on the drama. There are a couple of tables and plastic chairs in the middle of the courtyard where you can enjoy your food right under the stars.

    Alternatively, you could make this your dinner and then head a few blocks west to the nieverias in front of La Soledad church for dessert. The ice creams here are renowned and are still frozen and churned in the old way. You can see the garrapineras/barriles (holding salted ice) all in a row on the counters. Most of these vendors offer up to 3 dozen (!) different flavors including (in season) such tropical fruits as zapote negro, chicozapote, mamey, as well as "rose petal" (from the rosa de castilla). Note that they start from fresh fruits/flowers and do not use purees, preservatives etc. When I was last in Oaxaca in January, these places started closing down by 8 and I am not really sure when they start keeping late (summer) hours again. There is an excellent bookstore + cafe + internet cafe at the corner of the lower part of the plaza but they were also closing down by 8 in January. La Soledad is one of the greatest of Mexican churches and is home of the patroness of the city (la Virgen de la Soledad). It should (along with Santo Domingo church) definitely be in any visitor's itinerary of the city. The part of the La Soledad plaza that is elevated (going up towards Morelos) is called Plaza de las Danzas. At night, there are usually (traditional) dance or theater troupes practicing out in the open. Sit and people-watch on the steps of the plaza while enjoying your "nieves" as an unforgettable way to end your day.
    Last edited by dicksond on July 11th, 2005, 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #5 - July 10th, 2005, 6:03 pm
    Post #5 - July 10th, 2005, 6:03 pm Post #5 - July 10th, 2005, 6:03 pm
    Part 2 (of 3) of RST's Oaxaca post from March, 2003

    This is the great market of Oaxaca, a huge chaotic sprawling affair. Not as "cute" or as "photogenic" as Mercado Juarez but a must for anyone passionate about food. You can actually walk there from the center of town in about 20 minutes but the buses going there pass right in front of your hotel on Tinoco y Palacios (look for signs saying "Central" or "Abastos"). This might be a good chance for your kids to experience a Mexican bus ride (I think the fare is US$.35 or so pp). A taxi will bring you back to the center or to your hotel for about $2 or $3.

    Most guidebooks will tell you that Saturday is market day. This is certainly THE great day when Oaxacans from every corner of the state, representing many different ethnicities, speaking a dozen different languages (not to speak of the many dialect forms), wearing colorful dresses, and bearing the most astonishing range of traditional crafts, descend on the city. But it's still a great market on any other day of the week and I would argue that Tuesdays and Fridays (which are the actual days for the food/produce market) are even better days for pure food-hunting as one would then not be as distracted by all the superb handicrafts around.

    The market is divided into several section: the zona humeda (wet market), the dry goods area (zona seca), an extensive area of food stalls, plus a large loading/storage area (zona de bodegas). After several visits, I think that I now have a sense of its floor plan and wish that I had a way to sketch it right here onto the computer. There are few orienting points or distinctive markers within the market and at first it will seem as if you are just going around and around aimlessly. I promise you that you WILL get lost. Just don't worry about getting lost, then, and go ahead and just concentrate on looking at stuff. When you are ready to move on, just ask anyone where the "Central de autobuses" or Mercaderes (see below) is located (the 2nd class bus station is across the street) and you should get back on track in no time.

    The food-stalls (fondas) in the eating area of this market offer an even more extensive range of everyday dishes than the fondas at Mercado Juarez/20 de N. The food at Juarez/20 de Nov represents the most beloved, the most famous of Oaxaca City's everyday dishes/of its "comfort food". There you will find dishes such as chichilo de res, pollo almendrado, enfrijolada, entomatada, enmolada, verde de espinazo etc, dishes generally considered standard-bearers of the cuisine. The fondas at Abastos go beyond those favorites to encompass even more down-home items (for instance, humble dishes made with dried shrimp or with sardines). To someone who is starting out to explore Oaxacan cuisine, I would recommend concentrating first on Juarez/20 de N to get a good grasp of the classics (more on these below). But for those ready for unique adventures, there is certainly no end of things to tease out and discover at Abastos.

    The celebrated "Indian" market is in that open part of the market complex next to Mercaderes Street (catch a cab on Mercaderes to get home). It is actually one extraordinarily long "sidewalk" lined with two (or more) long long long rows of vendors with their wares or produce displayed right on the ground. It is a procession of glory: a breathtaking show of abundance and plenty. As many of the older "Indians" do not even speak Spanish, it can also seem like a contemporary version of Babel.

    As Mercado Juarez/20 de N is right in the heart of the city, is frequented by tourists and patronized by the middle-class, the produce here tends to be the most beautiful but also tends to be of the type whose stock can be consistently replenished. Abastos, being much bigger, is less brilliantly focused and "edited", but the massiveness permits much more things to be represented within its realm, even those things that do not reach a certain economy of scale. In the midst of the overwhelming series, it is possible to stumble on a stall with unusual/rare fruits from naturally low-yielding trees or small quantities of off-schedule/off-season produce from an atypical terroir or the harvest from a tiny pocket of trees (or even from one tree) hiding in some mountain off the main production zones.

    The "Indian" market encompasses an even more precious level of the miniscule and "small". Some of these Oaxacans walk for miles to get to the market carrying the miscellaneous vegetables or fruits from their tiny piece of land, perhaps a handful or two of a less-often-seen variety of beans, a few foraged branches of herbs or flowers. The sheer diversity of the colors and size of corn or beans, the obvious multiplicity of the genetic heritages (some heritages specific to only one single vendor) takes one's breath away. This comes close to that primal horizon of true plenty and true manyness before any standardization for the market.

    David, I have never been to Oaxaca in March and so don't really know what kinds of rare herbs or fruits will be available at this time. But when I was there 2 months ago, I saw several "relatively" well-known (but still rare) things that might still be around and that you might also look out for. These include scarlet "colorin" flowers (these are used in bean dishes) in very small bunches, scarlet pea-flowers, hierba de conejo, piojitos, chepil (of course) etc.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #6 - July 10th, 2005, 6:04 pm
    Post #6 - July 10th, 2005, 6:04 pm Post #6 - July 10th, 2005, 6:04 pm
    Cynthia,

    Sounds like a marvelous way to spend a vacation.

    We actually made Mexican-style elotes on the Fourth of July. My model was the kind sold on Maxwell Street (mayo, Parkay, cheap Parmesan-like cheese, chili and lime). In a Bayless-style upgrade to this dish, I made the mayo with some lime juice, used butter, a good Parmesan and Penzey’s powdered chipotle. Somewhat surprisingly, all guests opted for elotes con todo, even though several were initially thrown by the idea of mayo AND butter. I like the rich mouthfeel of that combo.

    Monte Alban is one of the few archeological zones in Mexico that I have not been to…did you make it there?

    Hammond

    PS. It’s been years I’ve been south of the border, but $35 for a meal sounds kind of steep to me (compared to what I recall being the price of dinner).
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #7 - July 10th, 2005, 6:05 pm
    Post #7 - July 10th, 2005, 6:05 pm Post #7 - July 10th, 2005, 6:05 pm
    Part 3 (of 3) of RST's post on Oaxaca:

    This is the great market of Oaxaca, a huge chaotic sprawling affair. Not as "cute" or as "photogenic" as Mercado Juarez but a must for anyone passionate about food. You can actually walk there from the center of town in about 20 minutes but the buses going there pass right in front of your hotel on Tinoco y Palacios (look for signs saying "Central" or "Abastos"). This might be a good chance for your kids to experience a Mexican bus ride (I think the fare is US$.35 or so pp). A taxi will bring you back to the center or to your hotel for about $2 or $3.

    Most guidebooks will tell you that Saturday is market day. This is certainly THE great day when Oaxacans from every corner of the state, representing many different ethnicities, speaking a dozen different languages (not to speak of the many dialect forms), wearing colorful dresses, and bearing the most astonishing range of traditional crafts, descend on the city. But it's still a great market on any other day of the week and I would argue that Tuesdays and Fridays (which are the actual days for the food/produce market) are even better days for pure food-hunting as one would then not be as distracted by all the superb handicrafts around.

    The market is divided into several section: the zona humeda (wet market), the dry goods area (zona seca), an extensive area of food stalls, plus a large loading/storage area (zona de bodegas). After several visits, I think that I now have a sense of its floor plan and wish that I had a way to sketch it right here onto the computer. There are few orienting points or distinctive markers within the market and at first it will seem as if you are just going around and around aimlessly. I promise you that you WILL get lost. Just don't worry about getting lost, then, and go ahead and just concentrate on looking at stuff. When you are ready to move on, just ask anyone where the "Central de autobuses" or Mercaderes (see below) is located (the 2nd class bus station is across the street) and you should get back on track in no time.

    The food-stalls (fondas) in the eating area of this market offer an even more extensive range of everyday dishes than the fondas at Mercado Juarez/20 de N. The food at Juarez/20 de Nov represents the most beloved, the most famous of Oaxaca City's everyday dishes/of its "comfort food". There you will find dishes such as chichilo de res, pollo almendrado, enfrijolada, entomatada, enmolada, verde de espinazo etc, dishes generally considered standard-bearers of the cuisine. The fondas at Abastos go beyond those favorites to encompass even more down-home items (for instance, humble dishes made with dried shrimp or with sardines). To someone who is starting out to explore Oaxacan cuisine, I would recommend concentrating first on Juarez/20 de N to get a good grasp of the classics (more on these below). But for those ready for unique adventures, there is certainly no end of things to tease out and discover at Abastos.

    The celebrated "Indian" market is in that open part of the market complex next to Mercaderes Street (catch a cab on Mercaderes to get home). It is actually one extraordinarily long "sidewalk" lined with two (or more) long long long rows of vendors with their wares or produce displayed right on the ground. It is a procession of glory: a breathtaking show of abundance and plenty. As many of the older "Indians" do not even speak Spanish, it can also seem like a contemporary version of Babel.

    As Mercado Juarez/20 de N is right in the heart of the city, is frequented by tourists and patronized by the middle-class, the produce here tends to be the most beautiful but also tends to be of the type whose stock can be consistently replenished. Abastos, being much bigger, is less brilliantly focused and "edited", but the massiveness permits much more things to be represented within its realm, even those things that do not reach a certain economy of scale. In the midst of the overwhelming series, it is possible to stumble on a stall with unusual/rare fruits from naturally low-yielding trees or small quantities of off-schedule/off-season produce from an atypical terroir or the harvest from a tiny pocket of trees (or even from one tree) hiding in some mountain off the main production zones.

    The "Indian" market encompasses an even more precious level of the miniscule and "small". Some of these Oaxacans walk for miles to get to the market carrying the miscellaneous vegetables or fruits from their tiny piece of land, perhaps a handful or two of a less-often-seen variety of beans, a few foraged branches of herbs or flowers. The sheer diversity of the colors and size of corn or beans, the obvious multiplicity of the genetic heritages (some heritages specific to only one single vendor) takes one's breath away. This comes close to that primal horizon of true plenty and true manyness before any standardization for the market.

    David, I have never been to Oaxaca in March and so don't really know what kinds of rare herbs or fruits will be available at this time. But when I was there 2 months ago, I saw several "relatively" well-known (but still rare) things that might still be around and that you might also look out for. These include scarlet "colorin" flowers (these are used in bean dishes) in very small bunches, scarlet pea-flowers, hierba de conejo, piojitos, chepil (of course) etc.

    And here is the link to my report http://www.chowhound.com/boards/intl5/messages/18665.html
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #8 - July 10th, 2005, 7:03 pm
    Post #8 - July 10th, 2005, 7:03 pm Post #8 - July 10th, 2005, 7:03 pm
    I actually used RST's post as part of my research prior to the trip.

    Not only is Monte Alban a great archeological site, but it gives you a great view of the valley below. While I was there a lightning/rain storm began. Luckily the lightning staid on the hills across the valley, but it was pretty impressive.
  • Post #9 - July 10th, 2005, 10:23 pm
    Post #9 - July 10th, 2005, 10:23 pm Post #9 - July 10th, 2005, 10:23 pm
    In response to several of the questions and/or comments:

    Yes, I have had loads of tlayudas, and I learned how to make them on this trip. They're great, but I don't personally consider them the "best" think in Oaxaca, just one among many great things. I love the moles, the chocolate, the tasajo, the elote, and myriad other delights.

    Yes, I have been to Monte Alban, and it is definitely worth visiting. It's not quite as extensive as some of the Mayan ruins in the Yucatan, but the location makes what's there terribly impressive -- and the ruins are still fascinating and magnificent.

    And regarding the $35 dinners -- the price range I gave was for the TOP restaurants in town, the ones the local foodies are going to (as well as some tourists), and the dollar amount included drinks and tips. It's like going to Le Francais for $50. When you downgrade to the places that are simply good but not necessarily cutting-edge innovative, you can walk away for $10-$15, and in the markets, you can eat for less than $5.

    As for El Naranjo, I have been there a couple of times now, on two different trips, and I find that, as with some top restaurants here, when you innovate, you sometimes don't come up with the winner you'd hoped for. I found that, in sharing the food, we had dishes that ranged from spectacular to pretty darn good but not worth a special trip. Conversely, not everyone likes every restaurant. However, that said, it would be hard for me to imagine anyone not liking Catedral, which is high-end elegant, but still more hard-core traditional. And while I love street food, I sometimes like to sit someplace with a table clothe and soft music, especially if I'm dining alone, as I was the first time I ate at Catedral.

    Oh -- and Kathy -- how many words can we write about a trip -- because I wouldn't mind sharing about the mare's milk in Mongolia.

    Cynthia
  • Post #10 - July 10th, 2005, 11:32 pm
    Post #10 - July 10th, 2005, 11:32 pm Post #10 - July 10th, 2005, 11:32 pm
    I didn't say tlayudas were the best thing in Oaxaca. I said that my best meals were in the streets/markets of Oaxaca. That wasn't the case in Mexico City, though, where my meals at Aguila y Sol and Izote were phenomenal -- some of the best meals I've had anywhere ever. (Although there were some seriously annoying things about Aguila y Sol. They didn't allow me to take pictures or notes. And they said they'd send me a copy of the menu and never did.)
  • Post #11 - July 10th, 2005, 11:46 pm
    Post #11 - July 10th, 2005, 11:46 pm Post #11 - July 10th, 2005, 11:46 pm
    Cynthia wrote:Oh -- and Kathy -- how many words can we write about a trip -- because I wouldn't mind sharing about the mare's milk in Mongolia.


    If there is a limit on word count, it is something I am unaware of. There have been a couple of posts I authored approaching 2000 words.

    We do suggest people write their posts off line, then copy and paste onto LTHforum. The forum software clocks out after 60 minutes. If you actively composed something online for 61 minutes and attempted to upload, it simply will not happen. To avoid this issue entirely, write off line.

    I'm looking forward to your comments on mare's milk!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - July 11th, 2005, 2:02 pm
    Post #12 - July 11th, 2005, 2:02 pm Post #12 - July 11th, 2005, 2:02 pm
    My two cents are that one eats very well in Oaxaca both at the restaurants, and also at the little carts and stands around the different markets. It is clearly a town that loves food.

    Monte Alban was excellent. Not as impressive overall as Chichen Itza, but a more impressive location, and somehow much more mysterious for me. More ruins, less restored and touristed.

    And all the little towns around Oaxaca with their different craft specialties are fun. We bought a lot of stuff for better and worse.

    The meals I remember most were at the little market RST suggested, Sanchez Pascuas, though my Tlayuda at Las Reliquarias, and ice creams at La Soledad were right up there.

    Sorry, EM, that El Naranjo disappointed. We were quite pleased dining there, but as Cynthia mentioned, some dishes were better than others.
    d
    Feeling (south) loopy
  • Post #13 - July 16th, 2005, 11:07 am
    Post #13 - July 16th, 2005, 11:07 am Post #13 - July 16th, 2005, 11:07 am
    To extramsg -- I know you didn't say tlayudas were the best thing in Oaxaca. That was dicksond's claim. Sorry that it looked like I was misunderstanding you. That's sometimes the downside of messages that go to vast numbers of people.

    Suffice it to say, the food is good in Oaxaca, street and restaurant, tlayuda and elote, tasajo and mole, quesillo and epazote. Whatever you choose, eating is fun.

    Cynthia
  • Post #14 - November 7th, 2005, 11:50 am
    Post #14 - November 7th, 2005, 11:50 am Post #14 - November 7th, 2005, 11:50 am
    Well, I took Cynthia's advice and went down to Oaxaca for a course at the Seasons of My Heart Cooking School. I had a blast! Oaxaca in general and the cooking school in particular are a food-lover's paradise. I attended an 8-day cooking class/cultural tour for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) which included learning many fairly well-known traditional recipes (tamales, moles, different types of chiles rellenos) and some lesser known (at least to me) regional dishes. We also spent a lot of time eating at markets, people's homes, restaurants, touring, dancing, drinking a bit of mezcal. Overall, I would have to name the trip one of my top 5 vacations (and I've been fortunate to travel quite a bit).
    My favorite dishes that I had in Oaxaca were from the isthmus of Tehuantepec, the south end of the state of Oaxaca bordering Chiapas. We ate in an isthmanian restaurant called La Teca which featured (among other things) garnachas (small masa discs with a ground meat and onion topping drizzled with fresh crema, salsa, queso fresco and accompanied by pickled cabbage--heaven!), fresh corn tamales (also heaven), a roasted pork in a chile marinade (heaven plus) served with two types of mole--coloradito and negro (heaven and then some). We later recreated the garnachas in the cooking class and I'm looking forward to trying them at home.
    For anyone looking for a unique vacation, I would highly recommend checking out the cooking school. It's run by Susana Trilling, a former NYC chef who was inspired to move to Oaxaca about 17 years ago by her Mexican grandmother. She is very well-connected in the culinary world and does many guest chef appearances in the states and has a cookbook, a PBS cooking series. She runs day and long-weekend classes fairly frequently as well as weeklong courses about 6 times a year (including Day of the Dead, a trip to the Yucatan, the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, a mushroom-hunting trip). The cooking school facility is set in a valley in a small village outside of Oaxaca city. I especially liked the focus on pre-hispanic cooking methods (e.g. use of a comal, metate, molcajetes, etc). If any of the moderators are reading this, I have a few pictures I'd love to post but I can't figure out how.
    I'd also like to put in my 2 cents about tlayudas. I appreciated the rec of the tlayudas las reliquias from RST's notes posted by Dicksond. The stand is in a lovely little courtyard and the people who run it are absolutely lovely. I'd have to say that tlayudas didn't rank that high for me on my list of Oaxaca faves but only because the food there was so outstanding overall. I did particularly enjoy the suadero (chopped steak topping) on both tlayudas and tacos.
    Thanks again for everyone who posted earlier. I took your notes with me and they were a great help!
  • Post #15 - November 7th, 2005, 1:03 pm
    Post #15 - November 7th, 2005, 1:03 pm Post #15 - November 7th, 2005, 1:03 pm
    I can almost taste the garnachas, fresh corn tamales, and roasted pork -- as we, too, were treated to La Teca. It was amazing, wasn't it?

    Did you try the elote exquisto -- the corn on the cob with mayo, cheese, and chili served on most street cornoers?

    Rancho Auroro (where the cooking school is, for those who haven't been there) is gorgeous, isn't it? I loved the view, which could be enjoyed even while preparing food.

    Glad you had a good time. I hope the photos get posted.
  • Post #16 - November 7th, 2005, 2:42 pm
    Post #16 - November 7th, 2005, 2:42 pm Post #16 - November 7th, 2005, 2:42 pm
    The elote is one of my favorite late night snacks. The hardest part of the trip was trying to recover from 6-course meals at Rancho Aurora and rally to have a late night snack of elote, suadero tacos and tuna nieves near the Soledad church. I have to give myself a little pat on the back--I put away an incredible amount of food this past week.
    The setting of the cooking school is beyond description. I don't have a picture of the outside but I'm hoping one of my "classmates" will send me one. The building consists of a huge, dome-shaped dining room attached to the a big open kitchen, all decorated with Mexican crafts. You get an incredible view of the stars at night because there's so little light in the valley (we saw Venus and Mars as well, according to one of my more astronomically-inclined tripmates). The view and the dome make the ranch seem like an observatory (granted, an observatory with indescribably delightful dishes coming from the kitchen). I spent a good part of the week trying to convince Susana to hire me as her 'intern' for the cooking school.
  • Post #17 - January 11th, 2009, 10:12 am
    Post #17 - January 11th, 2009, 10:12 am Post #17 - January 11th, 2009, 10:12 am
    The Season of My Heart cooking school came up in another thread so I thought I would add some photos (3 years later).
    I went on the 9 day Day of the Dead culinary tour in October, 2005. I'm a big traveler and I would put it in my top 5 vacations of all time. Here are a few highlights:
    The trip included 4 or 5 half day cooking classes at the cooking school Rancho Aurora outside of Oaxaca

    Rancho Aurora setting
    Image


    Susana Trilling review a recipe inside the cooking school
    Image

    We usually made 4 or 5 course meals. Most of the prep was done for us.
    Chile Relleno prep
    Image

    Chile Relleno final product
    Image

    We also toured the markets:
    Image

    We had several cooking classes, demonstrations in peoples homes.
    This is me trying to make a tlayuda (semi-successfully):
    Image

    We built a Dia de los Muertos altar which included traditional elements like marigolds and sugar cane and we went to several 'celebrations', visited the cemeteries, etc.

    Altar:
    Image

    Sand murals at the cemetary
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    Day of the dead bread
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    It was really a great trip. I'm hoping to go on another trip through the school, possibly to Chiapas. I highly, highly recommend the Seasons of My Heart cooking school.
  • Post #18 - January 26th, 2009, 8:27 pm
    Post #18 - January 26th, 2009, 8:27 pm Post #18 - January 26th, 2009, 8:27 pm
    I've been contemplating going back, as well. What a great experience that was. Excellent food, amazing learning experience.

    Let's see if I make any money this year, and then I'll decide. ;-)
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #19 - September 17th, 2009, 12:08 am
    Post #19 - September 17th, 2009, 12:08 am Post #19 - September 17th, 2009, 12:08 am
    For my better half's birthday, I booked reservations for the Seasons of My Heart Chile Lover's Tour (November 11-18). The highlight is the chihuacle negro chile harvest. With 6 days, there will also be market days, craft tour, and cooking classes. We can't wait.

    Cyndi, Thaiobsessed: Any tips on what to bring, getting around, and must dos?

    Thanks
    Wendy
  • Post #20 - September 17th, 2009, 12:23 am
    Post #20 - September 17th, 2009, 12:23 am Post #20 - September 17th, 2009, 12:23 am
    Wendy -- will you have any time in Oaxaca other than for the tour? Because there is a great deal to do in the city of Oaxaca -- including fabulous restaurants and a wonderful Ethno-botanic garden (lots of plants related to local foods, including teosinte, the wild grain from which maize was first bred), and a couple of great museums, plus nearby Zapotec ruins.

    As for what to take -- comfortable walking shoes, acidophilus pearls, and Immodium. (The cooking school is completely safe, but one does a lot of sampling in the markets, and one can pick up a little something "extra.")

    If you do have time in town, a fun project is to try to track down as many of Oaxaca's seven famous moles as possible: negro, rojo, coloradito, verde, amarillo, chichilo, and manchamantelas.

    Oaxaca is an amazing town for anyone who loves eating, but also for those who love arts and crafts and history.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #21 - September 17th, 2009, 10:10 am
    Post #21 - September 17th, 2009, 10:10 am Post #21 - September 17th, 2009, 10:10 am
    Wendy, I am very envious. A week or so ago, I was looking longingly at the Season's of My Heart website. I really want to do the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and/or the Chiapas tours. Susanna is an incredibly warm host. Rest assured, she will make sure you see the highlights of the region in the time available. If you are spending extra days in Oaxaca, I would recommend making them at the end of the tour if possible--Susanna and her staff can direct you to opportunities you missed. I particularly enjoyed the ethnobotanical garden tour in Oaxaca. You have to sign up a little in advance (as in a day or so--you can sign up when you get there).
    I'm sure a tour of the market will be part of the course--I found this to be the highest yield trip of any market visit I have made as Susanna knows the elderly woman who makes the best tamales, the guys who make great posole, where to get day of the dead figurines, etc.

    As far as what to bring? In addition to what Cynthia mentioned, bring a big suitcase with not a lot in it so you have room to bring back lots of cool stuff (dried chiles, copper pots, textiles, ceramics...I'm not a big shopper but I brought a lot back from Oaxaca, and I wished I'd brought more). Of course, you can always buy an extra suitcase in the market.
    Have a great time--eat a suadero taco and think of me.
    Don't miss La Teca's great isthmenian food (if it's still there--I was there in '05)
  • Post #22 - September 17th, 2009, 10:56 am
    Post #22 - September 17th, 2009, 10:56 am Post #22 - September 17th, 2009, 10:56 am
    Oh, and one more thing, you may want to print out this thread (I carried around a copy stuck in my travel book)--I loved dicksond's rec for tlayudas and tamales but you definitely need the instructions to find them. Don't plan on any meals out after the cooking classes at Rancho Aurora. Those were some marathon meals reminiscent of the LTH picnic (O.K., not quite THAT good).
  • Post #23 - September 17th, 2009, 9:15 pm
    Post #23 - September 17th, 2009, 9:15 pm Post #23 - September 17th, 2009, 9:15 pm
    Thanks so much for the advice. I'll definitely bring a copy of this thread with me. Extra luggage makes sense, too. Did you have any issues returning with food?

    We probably only have 1 day on either side of the tour. The ethnobotanical garden sounds amazing - I'll look to adding that at the end.

    Can't wait!
  • Post #24 - September 17th, 2009, 9:27 pm
    Post #24 - September 17th, 2009, 9:27 pm Post #24 - September 17th, 2009, 9:27 pm
    You can't return with fresh fruit or vegetables or any meats, but dried chilies, dried spices, cheese, and chocolate (you'll love the chocolate in Oaxaca -- a bit course, but made with raw sugar and cinnamon -- Susana's is actually the best, though it's great in all the markets) shouldn't be a problem. Of course, when considering the weight of your luggage, be advised that Oaxacan cheese is available at Carniceria Jimenez.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #25 - September 17th, 2009, 10:23 pm
    Post #25 - September 17th, 2009, 10:23 pm Post #25 - September 17th, 2009, 10:23 pm
    I've had like/dislike relationship with the city of Oaxaca for a long time. I appreciate that many people unfamiliar with Mexico can have a good experience visiting the first couple of times, but think it's such an over-hyped over-promoted destination. When it comes to eating in Oaxaca I always head for the central market, not the smaller markets close to the heavily-touristed Zocalo plaza. It's referred to as Central de Abastos (referred to earlier in the discussion thread) and you'll find great home cooking representing much of the varied cuisine of the state as a whole - at probably 30+ family-run small restaurants. That market is also the place where I've located the best foodstuffs and marketware, cooking materials, etc. Have a great trip!
  • Post #26 - September 29th, 2009, 2:17 am
    Post #26 - September 29th, 2009, 2:17 am Post #26 - September 29th, 2009, 2:17 am
    For any who are interested, here is the video from Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie program on Oaxaca. It focuses on stuff being prepared by indigenous peoples and consumed in small villages among the hills around Oaxaca. Susana Trilling is one of the guides in the video, and she introduces a family she actually took us to meet while I was at Seasons of my Heart. I've eaten the gourd-vine soup shown in the video, and it is wonderful. Susana also took us to visit the family of weavers in the video, though she's not the guide for that part of the show. One gets a bit of a view of downtown and a brief trot through the markets, but most of the show is focusing on ancient peoples and ancient techniques (if not always ancient ingredients). No an in depth look, but a nice appetizer of what it can be like,

    http://www.gourmet.com/diaryofafoodie/v ... 304_oaxaca
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #27 - September 29th, 2009, 2:23 am
    Post #27 - September 29th, 2009, 2:23 am Post #27 - September 29th, 2009, 2:23 am
    Bill wrote: It's referred to as Central de Abastos (referred to earlier in the discussion thread) and you'll find great home cooking representing much of the varied cuisine of the state as a whole - at probably 30+ family-run small restaurants. That market is also the place where I've located the best foodstuffs and marketware, cooking materials, etc. Have a great trip!


    Absolutely -- Abastos is paradise for foodies. Susana will probably take you here, too. My first trip, when I wasn't at Seasons, I ate there all the time -- there's food everywhere -- miles of it. It was actually at the market that I learned about Seasons. They figured that anyone speaking English who was also haunting the food market was in town for cooking school, so I was asked a few times, "Oh, are you at Seasons?" When I was at Seasons, I got to return with Susana, who guided us to all her favorite vendors, and we ate stuff I hadn't previously even noticed. Great fun. So yes -- definitely visit this astonishing mercado.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #28 - February 22nd, 2014, 7:51 am
    Post #28 - February 22nd, 2014, 7:51 am Post #28 - February 22nd, 2014, 7:51 am
    (There does not appear to be a single, "central" Oaxaca thread. After perusing several of them, I finally decided this was the most general of the various threads. If you're interested in more things Oaxacan, you'd be remiss not to check out a number of other threads, keeping in mind that posts don't always stay strictly on topic. There's a wealth of info on the board; I hope this is a useful addition.)

    Oaxaca had been on our must-get-to list for ages. So we were thrilled to finally get there—especially since we were able to visit during Day of the Dead celebrations. There were far fewer tourists than during a “normal” year which added to the pleasure. I can’t’ wait to return: one of the truly great vacations. Most of the meals were terrific, the food markets were remarkable, and our several day trips into surrounding villages (primarily for various crafts) indelible. I’ll forego the (over-)enthusiasm, though, in favor of just getting something posted. It’s been several months and I need to get these pics and impressions up. If anyone is headed that way, or is considering going, you will never regret it. (And, by the way, there’s a place I need you to stop by and get some more coffee for me!)

    We flew via Aeromexico and Mexico City. (You can also go via United and Houston.) The new terminal at Benito Juarez is huge and had a nice of selection of places to eat. Somehow I think we managed one of the more expensive.

    Image
    Tacos, Mexico City airport
    For a sit-down/take-away place in the midst of a busy airport, the food was surprisingly good. (The Lovely Dining Companion had empanadas.) Perhaps the US$40 price tag had something to do with the quality.

    Once in Oaxaca City, we were lucky to be very centrally located and walked everywhere. We loved being able to do that and I think it paid enormous dividends in the long run. There are so many food-related and non-food-related things to talk about, but for this post, I’ll just limit it to the restaurants. We made it to a number of places on our list. But I think there are at least a dozen or two more we were very very sorry to miss.

    Zandunga was recommended to us by numerous sources, meaning from the internet to locals in Oaxaca. It is well-known for its Isthmian food: the Isthmus de Tehuantepec is the southernmost part of the state of Oaxaca and is a narrow (relatively) portion of land separating the Atlantic from the Pacific; its food is said to be unique. It’s also clearly very popular; a number of places in Oaxaca City specialize in this regional cuisine.
    English was not an option here and, sadly, our server was pretty lackadaisical about his job. Whether we understood what we were getting or not seemed of little interest to him. Questions were answered perfunctorily and not with any particular (apparent) interest in seeing that we really understood.
    All that notwithstanding, it was a terrific meal—one of my favorites overall.

    ZANDUNGA

    Image
    Ground fish, two salsas, escabeche (amuse) – Zandunga
    We began with what our server insisted was “ground fish.” What kind of fish, seasoned with what, etc. we never found out. It didn’t taste fish-y at all and, in fact, blindfolded, I doubt anyone would have even guessed that the dish had come from the ocean at all. The flavor is/was extremely difficult to describe: not strong, not distinctive, but clearly plenty of umami. With the salsas (both pretty picante) and the escabeche, a wonderful amuse that set our palates up and made us eager for dinner.

    Image
    Garnachas with cabbage salad – Zandunga
    Garnachas are a popular appetizer in the Isthmus, it seems.

    Image
    Totopos and salsa con camarones - Zandunga
    Totopos are the local white corn tortilla in the Isthmus. Large, thicker, crispy, almost cracker-like, and yet retaining a certain flexibility. The little holes are made by a finger or a small wooden peg and the aim is to prevent the masa from “blowing up” and thereby falling off the comal on which they are cooking.

    Image
    Estofado del Istmo (platillo de bodas istmeño) – Zandunga
    One of the most remarkable dishes I’ve ever had: it turns out to be a dish traditional at celebrations, particularly weddings. At the time, I was completely and thoroughly baffled: it tasted like a cross between barbequed baked beans and shredded beef. It had clearly been cooked for a very long time and had a consistency somewhat like a heavy mashed potatoes. But the flavor was simply unique.

    LA OLLA--Breakfast

    Image
    Tortilla campestre – La Olla
    Nothing special about this little egg dish—except the care in presentation and the taste….

    Image
    Rajas Oaxaqueñas – La Olla
    Same thing here. Rajas is no more than shredded poblanos in a cream sauce. Nothing complex, but what a lovely, picante way to start the day.

    Image
    Mole negro with chicken (amuse) – Restaurant Catedral
    This mole was excellent; a lovely, deep, dark bite.

    Image
    Tamalito de elote (queso fresco) – Restaurant Catedral
    One of the single best dishes I had during our stay: the sweetness of the corn was perfect, the richness of the cream just enough to coat your mouth and make you wish the feeling could last forever. Intense corn-y flavor. I cannot think of even a single nit-picking criticism: this dish was perfect.

    Image
    Mole amarillo con pecho de res, ejotes, papas y chayote - Restaurant Catedral
    This dish, sadly, was not. It was advertised as described above, and the English translation (correctly) described it as brisket. It was not. I would not have minded the short-ribs had they not been tough and not particularly tasty. Worse yet, despite the promise of the amuse, this mole was too thin, simply not a good dish. Or perhaps, simply the wrong day to order it.

    RESTAURANT CATEDRAL

    Image
    Cebollas y chiles verdes en escabeche - Restaurant Catedral

    Image
    Caldo de guías con chochoyotes - Restaurant Catedral
    Soup made from the vines and leaves of the güiche plant, a kind of squash. Chochoyotes are dumplings. Made of corn masa and pork fat. I did not taste it but LDC left bot a drop behind.

    Image
    Tlayuda, tasajo al carbon (side dish) – Restaurant Catedral
    Tlayudas are a Oaxacan specialty: basically nothing more than a very large corn tortilla that is dried until it becomes chewy. Topped with a wide assortment of things, one of the most classic is tasajo: air dried beef. Not dried like jerky, but again, dried until a bit chewy. And grilled.

    LOS PACOS

    Image
    Grasshopper tacos with Oaxaca cheese - Los Pacos
    I’d had the little bug(gers) sprinkled here and there in my food a number of times before this. Slightly nutty, slightly crunchy. Generally quite small. But now, we were in a fairly fancy place with our local guide and I just followed his lead. A couple generous spoonfuls into the fresh, warm corn tortilla, fold it over, eat. Follow with fresh local Oaxaca cheese. The flavor is really indescribable. It’s not assertive in the least: if you didn’t know what was wrapped in the tortilla, I doubt you’d ever guess. And yet the flavor is distinctive. Below, you’ll see I had grasshoppers again in a casserole. There is truly no mistaking the flavor but the adjectives elude me.

    Image
    Seven mole sampler - Los Pacos
    Oaxaca is the land of mole and Los Pacos is well-regarded as a place that does mole(s) right. One of their smart marketing ploys is this sampler, brought to the table so you can see what you think. As it turned out, our guide knew the owner, never a bad thing and we learned that we could purchase mole to take with us. But the key here was the chance to taste moles we’d likely not have an opportunity to have elsewhere and to find out what struck our fancy.

    Image
    Mole colorado - Los Pacos

    LA OLLA—DINNER

    Image
    Sopa de verduras – La Olla

    Image
    Tostadas with Oaxacan smoked sausage – La Olla
    Tasty and delicious, though truth be told, nothing particularly exceptional about the sausage and, indeed, had the menu not identified it as smoked, I would not have guessed.

    Image
    Dorado en hierba santa – La Olla
    Hierba santa or yerba santa is a common ingredient in Oaxacan cooking; it comes in things, on things, and here, wrapped around things. It has a licorice-y note and went well with the fish.

    Image
    Flan with flor de cacao – La Olla

    AZUCENA ZAPOTECA

    Image
    Pico de gallo, frijoles, and guacamole - Azucena Zapoteca (San Martin Tilcajete)

    Image
    Tomato and egg soup - Azucena Zapoteca (San Martin Tilcajete)

    Image
    Sopa de verduras - Azucena Zapoteca (San Martin Tilcajete)
    Soups were both excellent and, in general, an unexpected pleasure almost everywhere we went. Usually vegetables of some sort, some with meat, usually not. Always very fresh, always tasty. No exception here.

    Image
    Chorizo with quesadillas [I think] - Azucena Zapoteca (San Martin Tilcajete)

    Image
    Chipagua - Azucena Zapoteca (San Martin Tilcajete)
    I’m at a total loss to identify this. I am virtually certain that this is what is was called, but the internet (that trusty, ever-reliable source for all human knowledge) discloses nothing by that name nor do any of my new Oaxacan cookbooks (I’ve somehow managed to acquire about five of them, all of a sudden, too…)

    POSADA CASA OAXACA

    Image
    Mollete (amuse) - Posada Casa Oaxaca

    Image
    Cazuelita de chapulines con quesillo y salsa verde - Posada Casa Oaxaca
    Not my favorite dish in Oaxaca, but definitely one of the most interesting. It’s a simple casserole with quesillo (a local cheese, good for melting), topped with salsa verde on one side and chapulines (grasshoppers) on the other. Among other things, these are the colors of the Mexican flag.

    Image
    Ensalada de aguacate con camarones - Posada Casa Oaxaca
    By all reports, it must have been pretty good because it was gone before I ever had a chance to even snatch a taste of it. The LDC confirms my suspicions, licking her chops.

    Image
    Tamal de pato con coloradito y frijolon - Posada Casa Oaxaca

    Image
    Dulce de calabaza - Posada Casa Oaxaca
    We both ended up with this dessert, unfortunately. A baked miniature pumpkin that sounded better than it turned out to be. Not bad, just nothing special.

    NUEVO MUNDO

    Image
    Huevos zapotecas - Nuevo Mundo

    Image
    "Bagel" con huevo and more - Nuevo Mundo

    Fantastic coffee. Brought some home and just ran out. If anyone is headed that way, lemme know, ‘cause they don’t sell it online; I'll make it worth your while!

    CASA DE ABUELITA

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    Vegetable “salsa” (amuse) – Casa de la Abuelita

    Image
    Empanada de pollo – Casa de la Abuelita

    Image
    Tlayuda con tasajo – Casa de la Abuelita
    Lovely; just too damn big. This had a diameter of probably around 16 inches!

    Too many pictures, too many fantastic memories. SO eager to return.
    Gypsy Boy

    "I am not a glutton--I am an explorer of food." (Erma Bombeck)
  • Post #29 - February 23rd, 2014, 11:54 pm
    Post #29 - February 23rd, 2014, 11:54 pm Post #29 - February 23rd, 2014, 11:54 pm
    Thanks for the photos and shared memories, GypsyBoy. Reminds me how much I loved Oaxaca. A few of the places you ate are favorites from my own trips, but with a few new spots should I return. Great destination. I hope you had the chance to enjoy some of the culture and history, as well. But food is the reason most folks (including Mexicans) got to Oaxaca. It's a destination that's hard to beat.
    "All great change in America begins at the dinner table." Ronald Reagan

    http://midwestmaize.wordpress.com
  • Post #30 - February 25th, 2014, 1:11 am
    Post #30 - February 25th, 2014, 1:11 am Post #30 - February 25th, 2014, 1:11 am
    Thank you for the thoughtful and beautifully-illustrated report. That dorado in the hoja santa is calling to me, and not just because I was reading about Piper Auritum recently in an article about yet another attempt to contextualize the Voynich Manuscript.

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