Norma’s Oaxaca Favorites: A Baker’s Dozen

1.     Museo Textil de Oaxaca, corner Fiallo and Hidalgo, closed Tuesdays.  Ask to meet Eric Chavez Santiago, director of education, for a personal tour.  Take a class if you are in town for a while.

2.   Federico Chavez Santiago Family Weavers for authentic, masterful, naturally dyed rugs at fair trade prices, Francisco I. Madero #55, Teotitlan del Valle, 52-44078 (call ahead to be sure they are home)

3.  Shiatsu massage with Annie Burns, Teotitlan del Valle, 951-1313 009.  She will also come to Oaxaca city.  By appointment.

4.  Remigio Mestas’ Arte Textil Indigena, Macedonio Alcala #103, in the Los Danzantes Restaurant Arcade, for the best Oaxacan textiles handwoven, handspun and naturally dyed by Zapotec, Mixtec, Mixe and Trique tribal groups.

5.  La Olla Restaurante, Calle de Reforma

6.  Nieves Anita in the Teotitlan del Valle market.  Closes at 4 p.m.  Nieves is local ice cream made from fresh fruit, nuts, and grated vegetables.  My favorite  flavor is the one that combines the coconut ice cream with chopped pecans, pineapple chunks, and fresh grated carrot.  Tuna, by the way, is the fruit of the nopal cactus and there is an ice cream flavor for that, too. Second choice:  nieves in the Tlacolula market.

7.  Grill your own carne for lunch in the Tlacolula Sunday market.  Walk back deep into the bowels of the market into the covered building beyond the church where you will find the meat vendor stalls and an aisle of charcoal grill stoves.  Meander and buy a bunch of onions, avocados, a few tomatillos, limes, and fresh tortillas (choose from blue, yellow or white).  Then, buy your meat.  Ask for suave (soft) for the most tender cut.  Put all this on the grill in front of the stand (except for the avocado and lime).  Peel the avocado.  Assemble all into the tortilla, sprinkle with fresh lime juice, roll up and eat standing using one of the vacant stalls for your table top.  If you like, use fresh baked rolls instead of the tortilla (ask for pan por tortas) found just down the long aisle.  Total cost is about $1.75 per person.

8.  Definitely Monte Alban.  Take the tourist bus from Calle Mina.  Ask the Zocalo tourist police how to get there.

9.  Mitla for the ruins and for great, inexpensive handloomed cotton tablecloths, blouses, napkins, shawls.  The REAL market is down the hill from the church and ruins.  The market in front of the church is too turistica.  The Mitla archeological site is different from Monte Alban because it incorporates both Mixtec and Zapotec designs in the carvings.  It is a treasure.

10.  Bertha Cruz woodcarver in Arrazola, Justo Xuana woodcarver in San Martin Tilcajete, and Dolores Porras potter in Atzompa.

11.  Handmade paper jewelry from the Francisco Toledo taller in San Augustin Etla can be found at La Granen Porrua on Macedonio Alcala.

12.  A cooking class with Pilar Cabreras at Casa de Los Sabores.

13.  Comida at El Gran Gourmet Oaxaqueno on Calle Independencia.  Be sure to order the Agua de Pepino con Limon (fresh cucumber and lime juice).

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