Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 2010 - Oaxaca - Market and Cooking School

Another exciting highlight of this trip was our one day with Seasons of my Heart Cooking School. We were met in Oaxaca and taken to the market in Etla with our guide Yolanda who introduced us to the many details of a local market. We went stall by stall and tried many delicious items, especially the tamales. We tried about 7-8 kinds of tamales and then on to the local drinks - made with rice, corn, etc. She showed us the many peppers and local vegetables. Usually we pass most of these things and are afraid to try things so with a guide we knew which we could eat for safety sake and also which contained meat items that we might not want to try.Following that we went to a ranch in the middle of nowhere which was the large kitchen for the cooking school. There were 20 of us and we were separated into different groups so that we could spend the rest of the afternoon intricately cooking the many recipes. Of course after cooking, we all sat down to a delicious dinner. Our menu included: Panuchos (stuffed fried tortillas with topping), Crema de Chayotes (Chilled Chayote Bisque),Eggplant Salad, Grilled Vegetable Salad, Marinated Chicken (or mushrooms) wrapped in Banana Leaves and Ante de Mango (Layered Mango Pudding). We have recipes for all and hopefully someday will cook our versions of them for some of you readers....perhaps during our coming year long trip to Mexico.
Another wonderful trip was to the town of Teotitlan de Valle where we visited with Benito Hernandex Contreras and his wife who have a farm where they grow the cochineal which is a parasite of cactus. These small "bugs" provide a most incredible red dye which is used for a natural dye in rug making. Benito grows, then dyes yarn and weaves using all natural dyes. This red dye was at one time more valuable than gold or silver for trading throughout Europe. We spent most of the day in this small indigenous village outside Oaxaca and happened upon the whole town at the small local church where they were celebrating "La Buena Samaritan" - good Samaritan and they passed out fruit water (calabaza)to all, including us 4 gringos.
Here is Richard among the many entertainers on the zocolo in Oaxaca at night.

Then we headed back to Mexico City for our last few days. Richard and Mei Mei left on Sunday and we spent the day seeing various sites that were important in the new Barbara Kingsolver book, "The Lacuna", which I had been reading during this trip. This book takes place in both Mexico City and Asheville, NC - so interesting for me. There was much about Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo and so we saw many murals including the one that was redone in Belles Artes after it was torn down at Rockefeller Center, NY for being too "socialist". We also saw the home of Diego and Frida in San Angel, a small artsy area of Mexico City. We managed to find our way all around town via public transportation which we really like and ate and some delicious restaurants.
All in all, a wonderful two week trip - time for family with Rich and Mei Mei as well as many interesting adventures.

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