The Important ones (food)
1. Carne Asada:
OK lets set the scene. You walk in past smoking grills and meat on show to get a big wicker tray with shallots and chilli’s. You then take it to one of a bunch of vendors that have huge sloping displays of all sorts of meats and chorizo. You bash your way through saying ‘give me enough of that, that and whatever that is for two people… two people and 2 extra chorizos’, and then you wait. And you salivate, and you wait. Then, as if by divine intervention, your vegies have been roasted directly on the brazier and all your meats are piled into a small mountain of heaven and it all appears just before you. You finally understand how the virgin Mary must have felt and you have yourself a little ‘When Harry met Sally’ moment.
Tlayuda is a local specialty. It’s meats, salsas and cheese in a big oversized tortilla. It’s then folded over and grilled right over flaming coals. Tlayudas themselves are gold, throw in the buzzing street atmosphere and they’re a big winner.
3. Frijoles and Chocolate:
There’s nothing about this drink that I can make sound enticing at all (and I’m ok with words). It’s pureed up frijoles (beans) mixed with hot chocolate. There’s no way of talking it up, but its gold.
4. Holy Mole:
Mole is a kind of thick saucey paste made from who knows what, I suspect its best we don’t know. Although throughout Mexico, mole originated in Oaxaca and the range of varieties is amazing.
5. Oaxaca Chocolate:
Oaxaca chocolate is a little different to what we are used to since it isn’t as processed so it doesn’t have the creamy smooth texture – instead it’s a little dry textured and coarse. But with this comes a more raw cacao flavour, unaccompanied by the subduing element of dairy. Throw in chilli or cardamom flavours and it’s a taste juggernaut.
The ‘also mentions’ (not food)
6. Mercado Ambulante:
Mercados are the way to go generally but there’s a mobile market that moves to a different place every day of the week. Largely avoiding the piles of trinket crap that seems to be everywhere and food that rivals the best we’ve had it’s a serious treat that we’ve so far only found in Oaxaca.
7. Monte Alban:
And I’ve gone this far without sounding like a tourist…. Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban are a real surprise for even the most cynical of tourist. See previous post.
8. Sierra Norte:
OK it rained the whole time and it sent me vomiting for a few days… For us it wasn’t Sierra Norte at its best but even saying this, the dramatic nature of the landscape and wild environment is captivating none the less.
9. Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca:
Sound the tourist alarm again! Oaxaca seems to be quite an origin point for a lot of modern Mexican culture and it’s all displayed here. The museum itself is cool but the building it’s in…. WOW!
History screams at you from every turn in Oaxaca. Spanish architecture is well preserved, the most impressive doors and gates ever and inner courtyards the stuff of dreams. Every corner reveals another gem, great town to just walk around and the courtyard and the coffee was why we went back to Cafe Brujula again and again.
So we give Oaxaca…. 4 out of 5, heavenly piles of meat