Today I woke up thinking I MUST write a blog post about my search for the perfect Tamarind Mezcal Margarita. What could be more fitting than this just-in-time musing to celebrate New Year’s Eve. So let’s celebrate 2013 as we say goodbye to 2012 and as we raise a toast to good health, prosperity and peace, let’s also raise a toast to Oaxaca, land of beauty, mystery, and creativity.
In actuality, the quest for the perfect tamarind margarita began years ago when I tasted my first in Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara where tequila is king. Recently, it became more serious when I began comparing those made with mezcal at Cafe San Pablo with the Los Danzantes and Casa Oaxaca versions along with fellow Day of the Dead photography expeditioners Bella, Helene, and Deby.
Back in North Carolina, Deby and I met for lunch at Dos Perros Restaurant in Durham (with Lynn Pownell, left). The bartender was willing to give the tamarind mezcal margarita a try because they had the ingredients even though they didn’t have it on their menu. We agreed the result was more than passable considering we were not in Oaxaca anymore. A few weeks later Deby and I met for dinner at the cafe in Fearrington Village where, again, the drink wasn’t on the menu, but they were willing to make it. Bless their hearts (as we say in the South). After we each had a sip or two, we agreed it needed something more and the waitress willingly brought us more tamarind concentrate to intensify the flavor. Much, much better.
If you are up to it, here’s Rick Bayless‘ version from the Frontera Grill. Salud! and Happy New Year. We’ll be celebrating at the Pittsboro Roadhouse where I’m certain they won’t have mezcal and certainly not tamarindo.
Radishes are not just for eating: Oaxaca Radish Festival
With tongue-in-cheek, National Public Radio retorts, Survived The Mayan Apocalypse? Here Come the Radish People. In three days on December 23 and just in time for Christmas, Oaxaqueños and visitors from throughout Mexico and the world will queue up around Oaxaca’s Zocalo for the annual ritual of the Radish Festival. If you are in town, don’t miss it!
Crowds are huge and often fifteen or twenty people deep to get sightings of giant radishes carved into still life sculpture that depict nativity scenes and the themes of village life. The spectacle officially begins at sundown, but my “trick” is to get there in early to mid-afternoon so I can get a closer and unobstructed view.
There’s even a section for a children’s carving lesson during the afternoon. It’s fun to watch the kids put their hand to this craft.
You might ask, do radishes really grow this BIG? Gosh, yes. The farmers in Ocotlan, where these special radishes are grown, have cultivated a variety that are dense with a ruby-red skin and carve up beautifully. Oaxaca is known for her crafts and why not carved radishes, that now join the ranks of alebrijes as a folk art.
Radishes as cathedrals, stepping stones, horse-pulled carts, dancers and musicians. They are kept fresh with regular mists of water.
I took these photos in 2007 with a really crummy point-and-shoot camera but you get the gist. This Christmas I’m in North Carolina staying toasty warm in front of the wood stove listening to my husband practicing his cello, reminiscing about Oaxaca.
Warmest wishes for the holidays and a joyous, healthy, content and peaceful new year.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Oaxaca Mexico art and culture
Tagged Christmas, Mexico, Oaxaca, Radish Festival