Oaxaca cooking class

Our latest travel tour feature from Mexico focuses on the fascinating city of Oaxaca. It takes all the elements of a historic colonial city, with its grand churches and plazas, but that’s just the starting point. You’ve got impressive ruins just outside of town, craft villages dotted around like orbiting planets, and craft mezcal distilleries scattered all around the countryside.

Oaxaca is a name pronounced with special reverence by anyone who appreciates the history and complexity of Mexican food. This is where you get some of the oldest recipes, but also some of the most complex ones. Any respectable food tour of Mexico starts or ends here.

Our associate editor Lydia, who lives in Mexico City, has done her share of eating around the city. So on this trip when her parents came down from the USA to visit, she got them all into Casa de los Sabores, Chef Pilar Cabrera’s well-known cooking school. This starts with a tour of the local market, where the chef picks up all the fresh ingredients the four attendees will use in class that day.

She hustles us back to her SUV and we are off to her house to make garnachas (shredded beef and pickled veggie appetizers), molito amarillo with shrimp (spicy shrimp soup), tamalitos de cambray (cambray onion tamales) and molotitos de plátano macho (mole filled banana fritters).

After spending a few hours making all this, they had a fine feast, accompanied by Pilar’s choices for a mezcal tasting.

Oaxacan crafts potteryThe next day they headed out to the ruins of Monte Alban with a local guide, getting deep insight into the buildings constructed over a span of 1,300 years and what they traded with other tribes.

If you go shopping for quality crafts in Mexico, you’ll soon find that much of what you are probably admiring comes from the state of Oaxaca. So naturally some visits to workshops is on the itinerary, seeing local craftswomen in action. They visit the shop of a noted local clay sculptor, to a pottery workshop, and then a wood carving workshop that is keeping tradition alive. The masters there select kids from the countryside to become apprentices, so they can keep the output going into the future with a high level of quality.

See the full story here: Digging Deeper in Oaxaca City.