We have been so busy this last six months, traveling the back roads of Mexico, sampling all manner of regional fare, and meeting and greeting the most interesting local folk. To put it simply we’re having the time of our life and hope our enthusiasm for Mexico and its food translates to fresh perspectives and new ideas for “Cook with Us” culinary adventures.
In the hills outside Oaxaca we dined in tiny Arrazola’s only restaurant, a word I use very loosely. On freshly swept dirt under a shelter made of salvaged wood we tasted the most succulent carne asada ever. While the thin meat sizzled on a homemade clay comal and a huge pot of pinto beans simmered over the wood fire, Manuela, the friendly owner and cook, cheerfully and expertly patted balls of dough into tortillas that she slapped onto the red hot comal until they browned and bubbled just perfectly. With a six pack of beer purchased from the only grocery in town our simple meal was perfect in every way, tasty, filling and very authentic!
So many local cooks happily shared recipes with us when they learned about our cooking school. Often ingredients were jotted down on napkins while we ate and talked food or we were invited into the kitchen to watch and learn as dried peppers, spices, and freshly slaughtered goat or pork were expertly prepared into aromatic and rich soups and stews.
We perused the colorful local markets in each town we visited. I’ve never seen so much fresh bountiful produce so artfully displayed. Bright yellow pineapples with the rind removed stacked in tall pyramids. We studied the huge sacks and barrels of dried peppers of every description, baskets of aromatic spices, and herbs to cure all manner of ailment. Friendly stall keepers proudly displayed goats and sheep’s heads that hung forlornly from hooks in the rafters. Freshly made cheeses beckoned under a covering of cheesecloth while alongside might be a wall of grotesque masks and amulets to ward off bad spirits. The markets of Mexico are a wondrous feast for the senses, a bustling jumble of fresh food, caged animals and birds, beautiful flowers, trinkets, and all manner of humanity.
We’re back in Idaho for the summer, thankful for family and friends here and in Mexico. We look forward to next season’s classes and hope you will join us.
Adios, Lynne and Pancho (Frank)