Oaxaca and Mezcal

 

IMAG2351last March I went to Oaxaca City for a wedding, no big deal, it was my second time in that beautiful city, but this weekend I committed myself to get to know a little bit more of this amazing place in the southwest-centre-ish part of Mexico.

First things first, I took a bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca on a Friday. A bus trip surprisingly enjoyable, I must say.

I traveled with ADO as my bus carrier at the 23 hrs service to Oaxaca City, leaving from the Central del Norte (the Northern Bus Terminal in Mexico City), costing around USD25 to 45. The terminal was super crowded as it was prior a long weekend, but nothing to worry about.

We arrived to Oaxaca around 7 am, and from the bus terminal in Oaxaca it takes you no more than a 25 minute walk to get to pretty much anywhere in the city. And believe me, anywhere in the city, so if you are only carrying a backpack, well, before getting to your hotel  go and explore a little.

 

For instance, from the bus terminal to Oaxaca City’s main square (commonly known as Zocalo), it’s about a 20 minute walk, but a taxi could take you there in 5 minutes for USD$3.

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At the wedding there were plenty of friends from my hometown, Tampico, it was very interesting to see all these lads in this part of the country. The wedding’s reception was on that very day, at Tule, Oaxaca, a wee town located 9kms East of the city. Santa Maria del Tule is famous for a tree that lives there, according to a lot of studies, this tree could be up to 3,000 years old, 14 metres in diameter, and often referred to as the “Tree of Life”. IMAG2303Then, we finally got the Hacienda for the celebration, found my table and decided to enjoy a magnificent feast. As entré we had pork crackling, longaniza and Oaxaca cheese, while each table had at least two bottles of mezcal, which was “silky-smooth”, simply beautiful.

As a main we had mole negro (black mole), a typical local dish, which by the way, is the  Pièce de résistance in Mexican cuisine, and the most representative of Oaxaca’s gastronomy.

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On Sunday I woke up craving some market food after a wedding with plenty of mezcal, well, Oaxaca had just the right place for me: the Juarez and 20 de noviembre markets.

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There I had a quesadilla with pumpkin flower and a tlayuda with chorizo. Both markets were loud and alive, like any other market in Mexico, however, the ambiance was different as the aromas were unique and, regardless of the new look the food stands had,the cooking technique used there was refined as a result of years of experience.

Oaxaca City seems to be the right place where to go for a weekend off, a peaceful town where to forget, at least for a couple days, the loud and over polluted Mexico City. I highly recommend it, it has awesome food, great weather, but most of all, it gives the tourist a broader insight of Mexican identity and ethnicity.

Cheers…

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Quesadilla Sans Fromage

For all my American friends, the title of this post is actually “Quesadillas without cheese”, and that´s today complaint.

See that melting cheese coming out of the tortilla... in love dude, in love

See that melting cheese coming out of the tortilla… in love dude, in love

I´ve been living in Mexico City here for 2 years already, and besides being an amazing place full of history and culture and stuff happening around you literally all the time, there´s one thing that I can´t understand.

Quesadilla with chorizo...

Quesadilla with chorizo…

And this sole thing seems to be a concern not only for me but for the rest of the country. Let´s do something together, ok? I want you to picture a soft corn tortilla, nice and freshly made, now, I want you to mentally put some cheddar or Edam cheese (grated) on one of its side, right? Now place that tortilla on the pan, medium heat, cheese side facing up. Imagine how that cheese begins to melt on that soft, freshly made tortilla, right?

That´s what I´m talking about!

That´s what I´m talking about!

Now, we are going to mentally do this together, right? Fold that tortilla, involving that sweet, melted cheese in all its glory. How do you call that?

A QUESADILLA, that´s right. 

Turns out that in  Mexico City, this is a Quesadilla with Cheese, meaning that the term quesadilla, when you order one on the street, doesn´t necessarily mean that they will give you what we just described in the above paragraph. When you order a quesadilla in Mexico City they´ll ask you if you´d like that with or without cheese, or what kind of stew will you like in it, not cheese involved.

Folded into perfection ...

Folded into perfection …

For the rest of the country, a tortilla with anything in it, is a taco, but when it has cheese it becomes a quesadilla (it´s in the Bible, trust me, Deuteronomy or something like that, true story “And Abraham melted cheese on a soft corn tortilla, using the heat of the pit of fire of sins of the gentiles…” ).

That´s the spot...

That´s the spot…

Apparently in Mexico City they don´t respect this, and will often confuse a taco with a quesadilla, only troubling the mindset of the tourists and other Mexicans, offending our history and traditions.

I will not rant about how much this pisses me, and the rest of the Mexican community, off, I rather write these lines to en-light all of you out there.

Whenever you come to Mexico City, it is your right, no! it is your Human Right (universal and stuff) to demand your quesadilla with cheese, always, and to ensure that melting cheese is always part of your gastronomic needs. Whatever they serve you in a tortilla, without cheese, is a taco, period! Quesadilla_de_Queso_by_mclaranium Damn… is anybody else hungry too?

Mexico City: What Really Grinds My Gears

grinds-my-gearsRegardless of how much I love Mexico, there are some things I hate about its people, my people (our people, and so on) and their habits and manners.

I hate these things not because I´ve lived abroad or I feel better than my countrymen, these are just things that according to common sense (and international agreements and covenants) shouldn´t even happen in the first place:

 “What did you bring/buy me?”

Plain and simple, no matter where you are going or where you are coming from, your friends and relatives will always ask you “so, what did you bring me?” and will be upset if you didn´t think of them and their needs for souvenirs while you were abroad. Ironically, they ask for presents instead of asking about your trip or wishing you a safe flight.

Exactly, this is how you guys look when you ask for souvenirs instead of greeting me.

Exactly, this is how you guys look when you ask for souvenirs instead of greeting me.

“Can I steal that from you?”

You read it right, at least in the centre of the country people don´t ask for stuff, like “May I have some water?” or “Could you lend me your MC Hammer Vinyl?”, in Mexico City people prefer to “steal” from you.

Oh, those were the days...

Oh, those were the days…

I found this shocking at first when coworkers will go like “Hey Luis, can I steal your phone for a second?” or if I´m having a snack people will lurk around and will say “Can I steal a bite from you?”… Goddamn it people! Just ask for it, don´t need to steal my Cheetos! Which brings me to…

 Cutting in line

In other countries I´ve visited, you queue accordingly, no matter if it is to enter a venue, the elevator, or when you go to the bank. Even if you see a friend or relative at the front of the line you just say “hi” and move to the end of the row, and wait, patiently. In Mexico it doesn´t work that way, if you find a friend at the front of the line, you greet him, talk to that person for a while and then… subtly stay behind or beside that person, literally cutting in line no questions asked. It is rare that somebody at the end of the line will point it out and ask you to do the right thing. (That´s my “cutting in line” theory*)

There´s one thing the English do right, and that´s freaking queuing

There´s one thing the English do right, and that´s freaking queuing

 Discrimination

Right, this isn´t as funny as the previous three, but discrimination is huge in Mexico. Discrimination based on race, social status, gender, place of birth, etc. And among all of these, gender discrimination is, I reckon, the biggest one. In Mexico, women are the silent victims of a society that objectivizes them, harasses them, and underestimates their role in the Mexican society as limited to marriage, motherhood and underpaid positions in the job market.

It reads: "it´s easy being a man"

It reads: “it´s easy being a man”

The independent, strong and self-driven females are seen by men and other women as aggressive, lonely and stubborn members of the Mexican society. Women don´t get paid the same amount of money for the same jobs as men, they mustn’t speak up their minds in family reunions or work meetings about politics, economics and their point of views regarding other topics traditionally addressed by men. And if you are thinking that I´m wrong, I´m sorry mate but you are one of those hipster guys who lives in the posh neighborhoods in Mexico City, or a suburban high class executive from Monterrey; and you still believe that women are free and brave and independent, or that they shouldn´t complain as they have all their needs sorted out (like a house, maids, marriage and a well-paid husband).

Because, remember, this is how many companies think.

Because, remember, this is how many companies think.

That´s right, I reckon that from these four examples, this last one pisses me off the most, as not only men discriminate women, women judge other women for their individual accomplishments not related to marriage and motherhood, undermining the development of an egalitarian society, more productive and equally able to provide a sustainable economic and social growth to all of its members.

Remember, harassment and discrimination of women leads to violence, as said this example in this article published by The Guardian on Mexico´s Machism: “The state of women’s rights in Mexico is alarming,” said Rupert Knox, from Amnesty International. “In recent years we have witnessed not only an increase in killings of women but a continuing routine lack of effective investigations and justice.”

vm

Just a quick example, “Maternity Leave” isn´t called that way in Mexico, oh no, when you ask a pregnant woman when is she having her time off to prepare everything for the birth of her baby, you say “When does your DISABILITY period start?” That´s right, because being pregnant isn´t becoming a mother, it is a disability. Also, instead of asking her when she is “due”, in Mexico we ask her “when are you getting better”, implying that pregnancy is an illness. Think about it, we portrait pregnancy, with these common expressions, as something negative for women.

maternity-leave

Quesadillas without cheese 

If you are in Mexico and you find a nice taco stand and ask for a quesadilla it will certainly come as a folded tortilla with melted cheese in it, right? Everywhere in Mexico except in one place, the capital, Mexico City. The first time in Mexico City that I asked for a quesadilla the waiter asked politely “With cheese?” What the bullocks man! As you might have guessed, the word “quesadilla” comes from the combination of words “queso” (Cheese, in Spanish) and tortilla, hence: Quesadilla.

Cheese, melting cheese! It´s in the bible, Jesus!

Cheese, melting cheese! It´s in the bible, Jesus!

Plain and simple, and if you reckon the opposite, well, my friend, you are sexist, narrow-minded and an enemy of the free world.

Ps. *The cutting in line theory: In Mexico corruption is the status quo, and most prefer to look to the other side whenever something illegal happens in their surroundings, the same with cutting in line. My theory is that people cut in line, while the people behind them also queuing silently judge that person but they don´t speak up, because they know that eventually they will be that person cutting in line. Translated to every day basis, Mexicans don´t speak up as eventually they´ll be in the position of breaking the law, with impunity.