Oct 01 - Oct 10 2011
Trip: Culinary Traditions
Name: Culture and Cuisine of Mexico: Oaxaca, Puebla, Mexico City
Departure Type: Group and Private
Duration: 10 Days
Price: $2,875/person, double occupancy, 6 person minimum or surcharge for smaller group
Join us on an extraordinary culinary journey to learn of Mexican culture through its culinary heritage. This unique cultural travel experience begins in Oaxaca, where the earliest pre-domesticated corn was found over 6,000 years ago. Known as "teosinte", this precursor to corn was domesticated by means of human engineering. Corn was the crop that provided the means for civilization to develop and flourish in Mesoamerica. Learn about the present-day threats to native corn varieties and travel to villages to make our own masa, tortillas and delicious tamales. In Oaxaca, enjoy a cooking class and learn to make simple and complex moles, so famous in the region. Travel to Puebla to learn of the regional delicacies such as red and green pipian, sopes de tinga, tamales de comino and more. Finally, in Mexico City, we visit the "chinampas" floating gardens and dine at Mexico City's finest contemporary Mexican restaurants. Join us!
What others have said, "Best trip to Mexico, ever" (really!)
Download Complete Itinerary (PDF)
- Saturday, Day 1: Arrive Oaxaca: Welcome dinner, Los Pacos: Exploring moles
- Sunday, Day 2: Mitla, Tlacolula, Teotitlan del Valle, Overnight Oaxaca: Explore the Ancient Ruins of Mitla with Pablo Gonzalez, followed by a visit to the sprawling Sunday market at Tlacolula. We enjoy the day in Teotitlan del Valle, where Rafaela Ruiz, of the Centro de Artes Textiles Zapotecos, Bii Dauu, will show us what nixtamal is and she will lead us in preparing masa to make tamales de coloradito and tlayudas. Our evening is free in Oaxaca City
- Monday, Day 3: Introduction to Mesoamerican foods: Focus on Corn: Presentation on CORN: a.)Earliest corn: Teosinte, b.)Domestication: Human Engineering, transition from hunting/gathering to agricultural settlement c.)Veneration, d.)Legends and Myths (Popol Vuh)e.)Corn Varieties, f.)Present day challenges and threats: Visit Botanical Gardens, City Orientation Tour: Lunch at Itanoni, Presentation and Tasting of Indigenous Corn Varieties. Here we learn of efforts to preserve and revalue domestic corn varieties. Our afternoon is free to explore the city independently. Enjoy an evening with Alejandro Ruiz, Casa Oaxaca, Exploring Chiles, Herbs, Cheeses and other surprises! Mezcal demo and tasting included!
- Tuesday, Day 4: Learn to make mole sauces with local and traditional experts. Monte Alban, Overnight Oaxaca: We will visit the market with to purchase our ingredients and begin our cooking lesson on how to make a complex mole: negro; and a simple mole: amarillo. We will enjoy our afternoon “comida” with friends. Later, we make a late afternoon visit to Mesoamerica’s first urban center: Monte Alban, with Pablo Gonzalez. Our evening is at leisure.
- Wednesday, Day 5: Transfer from Oaxaca to Puebla, Overnight Puebla: Depart Oaxaca 7:30 a.m., arrive Puebla 11:30 a.m Welcome to Puebla: regional Poblano appetizers presented by Lizette Galicia of Mural de los Poblanos: We enjoy a fun an informative cooking class with Liz, where we receive coaching and instruction in the preparation of green and red pipian, a regional delicacy. After we cook, we enjoy our meal with Liz and Luis Javier Cue de La Fuente (restaurant owner and lifetime “foodie”). Later, we walk off our food by taking a brief city walking, city orientation tour, to learn of Puebla’s history and see its highlights, including the Main Cathedral and the Temple of the Rosario. We spend a fun and relaxed evening in the company of Jose Luis and Hector, the talented architects, designers and proprietors of Hotel El Sueno, where we enjoy contemporary regional appetizers and innovative cocktails. We overnight at the dreamy, Hotel El Sueno.
- Thursday, Day 6: Atlixco, Cholula, Transfer to Mexico City: Depart for Atlixo, (8:30), a small community on the outskirts of Puebla, where we will meet Armando who will treat us to the delicious regional tamales de comino and atole Accompanied by Armando, we visit the local Franciscan Convent up on the hill and learn of other local points of interest in this town that lies at the foothills of the imposing Popocatepetl volcano. “Popo” for short, is still steaming and red molten mass is occasionally spotted by the locals. We pay a visit Porfirio to learn of the , where we will learn of this tradition in processing thinly sliced and cured beef. Similar to beef jerky, cecina is how meets were cured and dried prior to refrigeration. Porfirio will fire up his charcoal grill for a sampling of these delicious tacos. Often times, one can see cecina hanging from the clotheslines!! Moving to Cholula, we visit the indescribable regional churches of Tonantzintla and Acatepec, where we can see a fusion of prehispanic beliefs and catholic tradition. We make a special visit to a wonderful talavera workshop and showroom, Talavera Sta. Catarina, where we will learn of the talavera tradition, process and of course we can buy some of these beauties in the showroom. Talavera tile is a high temperature fired glazed ceramic that dates back to the Islamic cultures, who introduced it during their occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Adopted by the Spanish, they later introduced this technique in Mexico during the colonization period. Then, we visit the massive pyramid of Cholula, the largest pyramid in Mesoamerica, and the educational on site museum, where we will learn of the extended period of occupation and phases of Cholula and the devastating massacre by the Spaniards that occurred in this city. We have a light supper / buffet and one of Cholula’s charming hotels, before we depart for Mexico City.
- Friday, Day 7: Zocalo and Mexico's Historic Center, Cooking with extraordinary Mexico Chef and Author, Martha Ortiz or Dulce Patria, Overnight Mexico City: Our day in Mexico City begins with getting our first impression of this mega metropolis by visiting the Zocalo, the largest city square in the Americas. It is here that we can see the great clash of cultures that occurred in the 16th Century with the arrival of the Spanish on Mesoamerican soil. We will see the ruins of Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan the former capital city of the Aztecs, and will see how the Spanish strategically built their cathedral and government buildings atop of this ancient capital, in order to obliterate its memory. We visit the imposing and ornate cathedral, and will spend some time reviewing the Diego Rivera murals in the National Palace. From the Zocalo region, we will walk through the Historic Center, arriving at the Palace of Fine Arts, where we will see the spectacular murals of Rivera, Siqueiros, Orozco, Tamayo and Camarena. We will spend the evening with one of Mexico's leading chefs and culinary authors, Martha Ortiz, where she will lead us in an unforgettable evening of "Mexico's History through Cuisine". We overnight in Mexico City
- Saturday, Day 8: Museum of Anthropology, An evening with Enrique Olvera of Pujol: Saving a national treasure for last, we visit the Museum of Anthropology, where we can see the artistic expressions of the Mesoamerican cultures depicting important gods, such as the god of corn, water, sun, etc. A very special treat is in store, as we are lead in an extraordinary culinary tasting event with master chef and culinary artist, Enrique Olvera. Here, we will experience innovative food creations that defy description. We will enjoy a Mexican wine paring, as well.
- Sunday, Day 9: Xochimilco, Dolores Olmedo, UNAM, Chef and Food Historian, Ricardo Munoz Zurita: Today, we travel to the southern region of Mexico City, where we will explore the ancient hydraulic and agricultural masterpiece of the Aztec empire, the chinampa system of canals and built up land where they developed sophisticated systems to sustain agricultural production in the middle of a lake! Today, innovative and creative farmers are using this land to grow organic produce to supply area markets and restaurants with lovely and delicious produce. We will visit these farmers to learn of their initiatives. While in Xochimilco, we will get a treat and visit the sprawling former Hacienda and home of the patroness of the arts, Dolores Olmedo. In his final days, Diego Rivera enjoyed the support and care of Dolores Olmedo. Today, a large collection of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo masterpieces of her collection are on display at this museum. We see strolling peacocks and mischievous xolo’s (Mexican hairless dogs) running around! We visit the UNESCO Cultural Heritage site of the UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico) campus, the America’s largest public university. Here we see innovative artistic and architectural masterpieces of Juan O’Gorman, David Alfaro Siquieros, and Diego Rivera. On campus, we are treated to an evening with Ricardo Munoz of Azul y Oro,, overnight Mexico City
- Monday, Day 10: Depart
America's First Cuisines, Sophie D. Coe