Not far from Tuxtepec, Oaxaca, in the Papaloapan region on the Veracruz border lies the village of Loma Bonita just off the Sayula de Aleman-Tierra Blanca Highway 145. Known as the pineapple capital of the world, the region is home to the famed Flor de Piña dance we see every year at the Guelaguetza. They say Loma Bonita is a great stopping off point between Oaxaca City and Veracruz. Some claim Loma Bonita was founded by estadounidenses who found it to be a perfect place to camp. Quien sabe?
It is also a place from which immigrants come to North Carolina, U.S.A. I discovered that there is an enclave of Oaxaqueños from Loma Bonita living in the town of Siler City not far from my North Carolina home.
One young woman I talked with from Loma Bonita says she loves it there, and while there is work here in North Carolina, she dreams of going back. Many Mexicans want to go back to where they came from, she said. That’s where we really feel at home.
Fiber Fiesta is a street fair that showcases the textile arts of Chatham County, NC. Spinners, weavers and natural dyers participated. I was there to represent Federico Chavez Sosa’s wonderful Oaxaca rugs. The “fiesta” part featured a Mexican food street cafe organized as a fundraiser for the teenage youth group at Saint Julia Catholic Church. Over 80 percent of the parish is Spanish speaking. Latino parents and teens worked together to create a street cafe much like we find on the corners of Oaxaca, where fresh, delicious food is prepared and served by excellent home-style cooks.
I looked on as the men volunteers set up tents, cafe tables and chairs, and an outdoor gas-fired cook stove. The women donned rubber gloves and plastic hair covers, and rolled up their sleeves. They set to work making spicy shredded chicken-filled empanadas and tacos, refried beans, salsa verde and shredded lettuce salad — making masa (corn dough) from scratch right there on the street and cooking it, just like in Oaxaca!
The refried beans were the most delicious I’ve ever tasted: a version originating from Loma Bonita, I suspect! Here is the simple recipe shared with me.
Recipe: Refried Beans Loma Bonita Style
- 1 lb. pinto beans, rinsed drained
- 1/4 lb. chorizo (Mexican sausage), cooked and drained of all fat
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced thin
- 1/4 c. cooking oil
Cook pinto beans until soft and all liquid is absorbed (according to package directions). Add jalapeño pepper and cook for another five minutes. Mash with potato masher until a paste. Thin with a little water, if needed. Crumble chorizo into the mix and mix evenly. Heat oil in large frying pan. Add bean paste. Continuously stir until mixture is thoroughly cooked and begins to bubble. Taste to correct seasoning (see if it needs any more salt). Serves 4-6. Store in refrigerator or freezer in covered container.
Siler City, NC, has a population of over 50 percent Latinos. Most come from Mexico and many are from Oaxaca. Whenever I want/need a special cooking ingredient or a taste of Mexican soul food, that’s where I go! Unless I’m in Oaxaca, of course! (smile) Buen provecho.