This blog is beginning to look like a stew, a tzimmes, a melange of topics all jumbled up into lots of posts with not a whole lot of organization — or so it seems. Writing about Oaxaca food and posting some easy-to-create recipes is something that is a natural extension of another personal interest that I cultivated years ago when I lived in San Francisco. The blog post, “once I owned a gourmet cookware shop and cooking school,” only touches the surface of foodie-dom. Several lifetimes ago, I cooked only with unsalted butter, sugar, heavy cream, and spent hours in food preparation and taught only classical French cooking in its purest form. My world was incomplete without Calphalon, Henkels, and six different sizes of paring knives. Now, I know better! although in this home kitchen I have embedded a maple chopping block into the counter to make life a little easier as I sweep food debris into the nearby compost container. The neighborhood chickens, ducks and geese just love me. In Oaxaca, the chickens compete for carrot shavings and vegetable scraps alongside the pigs, guacalotes (the local turkey), and other barnyard animalitos. I will fit right in.
There are no written recipes — food is created through family history, women co-mingling together in the kitchen generation after generation, creating mole, tortillas, holiday bread, stewed chicken, soup, hot chocolate, atole. This blog is where you will find these recipes as I meander the villages to record how daily life begins and ends in the kitchen.
The photo here is the altar table prepared by Eric Chavez Santiago and Elsa Sanchez Diaz for the Dia de los Muertos exhibition they were invited to participate in at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, September 2007. The altar is an offering of traditional Oaxacan foods — pan (bread), chocolate, nuts, and fruits — to sustain the loved ones who return to earth to visit their families each year. This is a perfect example of how food is symbolic of relationship, continuity, and family life … it nurtures, brings us together in life and in death.