Monday, we went to a smaller market in the city, La Merced, to compare it to Tlacolula. We also did a sensory evaluation of tlayudas, a Mexican "pizza" of sorts. In the afternoon, we met as a group at the house where all of the professors are staying to review all of the ingredients we purchased from Tlacolula. We made a master glossary of ingredients typically found in everyday Oaxacan cuisine, such as a variety of chiles, garlic, tomatillo, pumpkin seeds, nopal (cactus), onions etc.
Tlayuda tasting at La Merced: tlayudas have ground frijoles, quesillo, tomato, cabbage, and avocado on a large, crunchy corn tortilla. Photo: Caitlin
Tuesday, our group took another field trip outside of the city to Huayapam, where we watched a tejate demonstration. Tejate is a gruel drink that looks like chocolate milk, takes a long time to make, and has unique ingredients, such as mamey seeds, cacao, and small white flowers, all ground for an hour or two by hand. The consistency is like a fudge, which is then mixed with the corn masa, and water is added gradually and methodically to get the end product. The frothy looking stuff at the top is a result of the fat separating from the liquid in the large bowl.
Hannah roasting the cacao beans for tejate on the comal! Photo: Lauren
Methodically adding water, mixing, and watching the flores (curd-like substance) form on the top of the tejate mixture. Photo: Lauren
Final tejate product. Photo: Lauren
The most delicious thing we did this week with regards to Oaxacan cuisine was have a mole (pronounced: mole-ay, and not to be confused with small rodent) tasting on Wednesday at a restaurant called Quince Letras. Quince Letras is part of the Slow Food movement, so we got a brief history of what Slow Food is before we met there to eat. Mole is considered to be the dish to have in Oaxaca, and it's one of the most complex things you can try here due to its unique flavors and textures. Our UVM professor for the week, Amy Trubek, had us evaluate each of the three moles we tried based on looks, smell, and taste, and we also had to compare the three to each other. Below is a picture of our mole trilogy, and it's safe to say we were all STUFFED afterwards!
From left to right: Mole Rojo, Mole Negro, and Mole Almendrado (almond). Photo: Caitlin
We finished off the week on Thursday morning by learning basic knife skills from Amy, who not only is a UVM professor, but is also trained as a chef. She gave us a few assignments to complete for our course before the long weekend is over, and we wrapped up our conversations about what we had observed about cuisine this week. Lastly, we said our goodbyes as she had to head back to UVM to continue teaching her classes this semester! Next week, our Food Systems track will be joined by Cynthia Belliveau, another professor in the Nutrition and Food Sciences department at UVM and the Dean of Continuing Education, and until then, we're all relaxing this weekend after a week packed with activities. Next week we'll be doing some cooking in the villages, so stay tuned!
Lauren (Lore), Carter (Cartehrrrrr), y Caitlin (Kahty)