We’ve already been over why I hopped on a southbound bus as soon as I entered Mexico, so the most important thing to talk about is obviously the food.
Granted, it took me three or four days to remember to do my online research from both the crazy kids at Chowhound and the incomparable Mark Bittman, but even without doing due diligence I managed to hit up the obvious places downtown.
Dining alone is a strange experience. By the end of my week in Oaxaca I was pretty ready to not have to spend another meal reading, writing emails, or trying to not awkardly stare at other tables. I don’t think it will ever be a comfortable experience to dine in a restaurant by myself, but I managed to not dread it after a while. Food is better when when you share it, and while I did meet people at the market counters and have delightful conversations with servers and cooks alike, my preferred epicurean experience is with friends and family.
The food in Oaxaca was everything I hoped for, and more. After multiple tries I finally found black mole without the death-threatening peanut added in, my hostel served a decent breakfast every morning, and all libations were as delicious as anticipated. I brought home a kilo (yes, that’s right, a kilo) of coffee, toasted cacao nibs, chocolate prepared the same way it was 600 years ago*, and memories of smoky mezcal. I have a tortured relationship with coffee here in Austin, as most coffee bars won’t filter their water, rendering my favorite beverage nearly undrinkable outside the confines of my abode. Thankfully it will take me some time to run through my booty from Cafe Nuevo Mundo, and I’ve actually found a place that can prepare a latte appropriately. Life is good. But I digress!
What I wasn’t prepared to find and enjoy so thoroughly in January were the mind-blowing hielos (basically intense fruit-based sorbets), the best of which was definitely a giant glass of prickly pear and mango covered with Valentina hot sauce. Hells yeah. A close second was guanábana maracuya, which I found out a week later is soursop passion fruit. Yay for mystery fruits!
Twelve meals wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough. Te quiero, Oaxaca.
*I don’t give a shit if it’s an advertising gimmick. It’s fucking delicious.