It’s Wednesday morning in Teotitlan del Valle and I’m just able to catch my breath. Five women are here for the weaving and natural dyeing workshop with Federico Chavez Sosa and his daughter Janet in their casa at Francisco I. Maderio #55. On Sunday morning, I met three of them for the first time at the B&B where they are staying in the village. Two are North Carolina friends who are directors at the NC Arts Incubator in Siler City. Who are these adventurous women who have gathered together in a small Zapotec village to learn traditional natural dyeing techniques and to try their hand at learning tapestry weaving on a two-harness pedal loom. One is an artist and art teacher from Philadelphia; one directs the sustainable agriculture project at Yale University; one is an architect from NYC; one grows sheep and goats to spin their wool; and one is an arts supporter. We are all muy simpatico because of our interest in being here.
On Sunday morning we hopped on the local bus to go to the Tlacolula market, which became an all day event. Meandering through the streets that are transformed to market stalls we saw all forms of commercial enterprise: vendors selling hardware, avocados, clay and plastic dinnerware, papaya, pineapple, light fixtures, blue jeans, locally woven baskets in all sizes, handmade aprons intricately embroidered, handwoven hammocks in single and double widths, tablecloths loomed in the village down the highway, handwoven rugs, huipils, dresses, blouses, underwear, blue jeans, fresh roasted corn hot on the grill, alebrijes, and more, and more, and more. Definitely a shopper’s paradise. We snaked through the small passageways, past the fresh vegetable and fruit stands, and into the area where the meat is sold, in the permanent arcade opposite from the church. There, we went to the vendor I like, Carneceria Augustin, where the meat is especially soft and fresh, and she cut 6 pieces, one for each of us. Her daughter assistant put them on the wood fired charcoal grill in the center of the wide aisle to grill them, along with the tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and sweet onions we had purchased along the way. Giovanna bought the tortillas. Sue went off to get the fresh baked rolls from the bakery section. We pulled out the limes and avocados and asked our vendor hostess to cut them for us. When all was done, we went out to the church courtyard and sat along the flower gardens to eat our lunch, squeezing fresh lime juice on the mixture of meat and vegetables, wiping our faces with the paper towels used to carry our food, grinning in satisfaction.
Special note on food safety: I know this vendor and the quality of the freshness of the meat. The meat is grilled over red hot charcoals and cooked well. The tomatoes, peppers and onions are also cooked this way so we can peel the skin off after it is singed. We peel the avocado ourselves. Limes are a natural astringent. I always carry hand sanitizer with me and use is often to be certain that we don’t pick up any unwanted “bugs.” This is a perfectly healthy and wonderful way to eat local food without worry.