Friday, July 9, 2010

Why I love Oaxaca....Let me count the ways....FOOD!

FOOD! My high school chemistry teacher used to say..."The way to a man's heart is thru his stomach!" I totally agree with him and feel that this saying is not gender biased. So obviously...FOOD is the first thing that causes me to feel nostalgic about this great city. Whether it's a juicy mango covered with chili and lime that drips all over you with every bite or a more epicurean styled dish that sends you to another planet, one thing is for sure, when it comes to food I do not discriminate. I will try everything ONCE; be it a tamale snuggled up in a basket carried on the head of a local or a crispy cricket fried and dipped in chili- I'm game! BUT...I will not eat everything TWICE. I have to like it to eat it again, and that is where I begin to be more discerning about what I will eat again. Fool me once....;-)

I think my food obsession started when I landed in the emergency room with a severe food allergy. After spending months figuring out what it was I was allergic to, I found out I was deathly allergic to MonoSodiumGlutamate. Needless to say, I always have an EpiPen with me regardless of where I am. MSG is EVERYWHERE! But that isn't where my food allergies end, throw in sulphites, sulphates, sodium benzoates, nitrates, nitrites and on and on and on. So what does that leave me with? Cooking everything on my own and making sure everything is fresh and has not an ounce of preservatives in it. Life in the United States is really tough on me because everything is so heavily processed. I have learned to modify my diet causing me to spend an average of 3 to 4 hours a day in the kitchen cooking, which I have learned to enjoy.

In developing nations, processed foods are a luxury item, thus making them more expensive and less available. Fresh produce can be found within a blink of the eye. Most vendors, sitting on the corner. who are selling their fresh cut up mango picked the fruits from their tree that morning and send their kid to go pick more as the bounty depletes. It doesn't get any fresher than that. It is easy for me to eat on the street here in Oaxaca, and I don't have to be terrified that I might end up with a huge bite of MSG.

A lot of North Americans are afraid to eat in "third world" nations. I have been travelling for the past two decades and have ended up in the hospital twice and that was in the United States. Food poisoning can happen anywhere and germs are everywhere. I always encourage people to get away from the old myth of "never drink the water or eat the vegetables washed in it". I truly believe that you are missing out on the entire travel experience if you don't allow yourself to eat the street food. It's the best food around!

Well I'm off, heading off to a concert tonite. Looking forward to it...will post photos later.


  1. Was that chemistry teacher Jerry Workman? Sounds like one of his speaches of wisdom. He would also most agree on using your head and enjoy good food any where you travel. Currently eating lots of local food in Cozumel. Moved away from all the tourist areas and finding wonderful local cuisine in the inner city. Wish my country was smart enough to teach spanish very early on. My Mexico experience would be much better if I could communicate better. My fault I can't speak the local language. I had plenty of opportunities in Pecos to learn from my friends. Neil F.

  2. Indeed... it was Brother Workman. Definitely one of his speeches of wisdom. Glad you are enjoying yourself in Cozumel...are you a diver? Great place to dive in...If memory serves me right, you have a photo in front of one of a cool personal plane. Do you fly it there? I am Mexican and I didn't learn spanish until my mid 20's so don't feel too badly. I learned it in Peru. Mexico is easy to maneuver in without knowing a lot of Spanish. Enjoy Cozumel!

  3. Yes Sandra we are here diving. It's my first time to Mexico other than border cities. No real reason why I have not been here but have been a number of places in the Carribean. What a jewel I have missed all these years. The people were warm, friendly and accomodating. I'm determined to have conversational spanish by the time I return. I better get started because I'm coming back soon. The kids will be coming next trip. This is culture to be soaked in and experienced. It will be a culture shock from the surburban life they lead. Other than the hotel and diving, we stayed in the inner city area eating, shopping, and taking in a few beers. I loved diving in Belize but this place rocks. I do have a small private plane but we did not come that way. Hard to beat a $250 airfare to Cozumel. A few years ago we flew it to the Bahamas and stayed on Long Island which is only reachable by charter boat or private plane. No commercial service of any size. That is a whole other story. We travel home today and I'm ready to see my kids but will miss the food and people very quickly. Yesterday evening, we went to the local market where this little elderly lady was making chili renellos. The flavors were nothing like we have ever had in the states. I'm not sure of the cheese she used but it was good. She did not speak any english and me no real spanish but I understood what she was cooking and how much. I wanted to do some photography here but realized quickly I had equipment that drew too much attention. Pulling out $4000 worth of SLR equipment might not have been wise. I had several walk up and say "nice camera". That made me nervious as I wanted to blend in as much as a tourist gringo could possibly do. I will return with something a bit more discreet next time. Keep posting, I'm really enjoying your FB and blog as I don't have the guts to throw caution to the wind. Best wishes to you and Abel. Neil