January 20, 2008
Our first day in Oaxaca was a double whammy.....a memorable, terrific, and completely cathartic Inauguration Day, complete with brunch for 200 ex-pats in the historical district with a huge theater-sized TV screen, followed by my birthday celebration in the private home of Henry and Rosa Wangeman, who hosted Henry's and my mutual birthday celebration in San Augustin Etla with five kinds of tamales, guacamole and apple pie! Good to see Susana Trilling again, who will be teaching a day long cooking class for us next week. Happy and joyous day from start to finish.
Woke up late. We are staying in the second floor apartment of the teeny local Episcopal 'church,' friend Father John Zachritz (with wife HelenMarie) is the visiting officiate. The apartment has two large bedrooms, living/dining room, kitchen, wireless and cable TV, and is centrally located on Crespo between Morelos and Matamoros. Today we walked the entire length of the town, north to south, starting with a hearty breakfast at el Zaguan ($3.50 for hot chocolate, bread, scrambled eggs a la Mexicana, and black beans and tortillas), followed a visit to Santo Domingo church and museum. This is a world class museum and historical renovation....a must. Sat for a couple of hours in the Zocalo and enjoyed the passersby, and then hoofed it again to the Benito Juarez market for organic dark roast coffee for the apartment, continuing on to the 20 de Noviember market. Inside we discovered a fun and frenetic lunch area -- we picked out our own cecina enchilada (seasoned pork) and tasajo (paper thin sliced flank steak) from the vendor of choice, and carried it to the grill where we added green chiles, green onions, then guacamole, Negro Modelo beer, and fresh warm corn tortillas. The freshly grilled selection is brought to the tightly packed family-style table shared with Oaxacans to create our tacos as we saw fit. So much fun. About $3.00 each. Can't be beat. Ducked into a chocolate factory to pick up some for our mid-morning snack; the whole cacao beans are ground in front of you with added cinnamon stick, almonds, brown sugar and lecithin; they are packaged in large tablets just right for a large cup of hot chocolate with added hot milk or water. The smell is divine!