Monday, November 18, 2013

Seasons Of My Heart - cooking class in Oaxaca

We just returned from a wonderful trip to Mexico taking in both Mexico City and Oaxaca City. Mexico City was amazing but since we were there for only 3 days it was more of dipping our toes into the water than a real excursion. We'll definitely have to return a few more times to get a real feel for it.
The trip to Oaxaca was the second one for us. In addition to a few days of sight-seeing and hanging at the Zocolo, we decided to take a class in one of the premiere cooking schools there, Susanna Trilling's Seasons of My Heart.
It was an all day affair with the bus picking us up at a hotel in the Centro at 9am and dropping us off about 8:30pm that night. The trip included a stop at a local weekly market in Etla with a wonderful docent by the name of Yolanda who patiently walked us through stalls, demonstrating the various local foods and cooking tools, and explaining their uses in the local cuisine. She also brought us to a delightful small kitchen there to have a lunch cooked up by locals with enchiladas and chocolate agua. I took plenty of photos but unfortunately couldn't keep up with all of the descriptions. Once I have them, I'll update the images with captions.

local maiz - corn


local peppers and beans


local tomatillo

local tomatoes



Sugar cane treats

Sugar cane

bananas


Spices and peppers




various piloncillos 


cinnamon and canela



cooked larvae

limestone




herbs

pork meat stall

butcher section



chili pastes

yams and sweet potatoes


sweets


preparing chocolate drinks

enchilada in coloradito mole

Local talent who serenaded us during our lunch 

Once we concluded our trip through the market, we were driven up to Susanna's school in the hills, a beautiful rustic home with an open kitchen and dining room where we had recipes packets and aprons at the ready for each of the 10 of us. (Let me say here, one of the best parts of the entire day were the other students with whom we shared the experience. Everyone was a pleasure to be with and great fun to work with. In my experience, that beats the law of averages so I took that a blessing.) Susanna sat us down for a short lecture describing the recipes and courses, the ingredients we were going to use, and the techniques and tools with which we were going to be cooking. We then split into small teams, each course being handled by 2 volunteers. During the food prep, Susanna kept an eye on everything without interfering but always ready to step in if someone had a question or if she could detect some confusion on the part of one of us. After about two hours of cooking, we sat down to enjoy the results of our work in the midst of a party atmosphere.

The whole experience was thoroughly delightful, I would highly recommend the class to anyone who is visiting Oaxaca and interested in its local cuisine, one of the more amazing ones in the world IMO.