The Magical And Romantic City Of Oaxaca, Mexico
This past week in New York City I attended a mezcal tasting, sponsored by the Mexico Tourism Board, trying to expand my knowledge of this artisanal Mexican spirit from the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca. It reminded me of my visit to Oaxaca City, the capital city in this state of the same name, and inspired me to write this post.
Discovering a new and exciting city, to me, is like falling in love. It excites you, engulfing your senses so completely that the thought of saying goodbye could bring a tear to your eye. Such was the case with my visit to Oaxaca; a romantic, Spanish Colonial city lined with cobblestone streets and opulent cathedrals.
Along with these quaint cobblestone streets and striking Baroque cathedrals there’s ancient ruins, a majestic landscape and a culinary scene that will have you begging for more. The days are warm and sunny, the evenings cool and romantic. As the birthplace of Mexico’s culinary scene, the streets are filled with open-air food markets where the aroma of freshly made tortillas whets your appetite. I indulged in everything from burritos, mole sauces, chocolate and cheese to their local delicacy, chapulines (seasoned and fried grasshoppers). The local chocolate, combined with cinnamon and almonds was made fresh and the Oaxacan cheese, soft and pungent, became one of my main food groups; but it was the mole that won my heart with it’s spicy and complicated flavors.
The culinary scene is just a portion of the overall appeal to Oaxaca. The culture is a mixture of various indigenous people including Aztec and Zapotec with the obvious Spanish influences. Most impressive were the ruins of Monte Alban dating back to 500 BC. It’s an ideal ½ day trip outside Oaxaca city as only a 20-minute scenic drive up through the mountains. Tourists here are virtually non-existent as opposed to the popular Mayan ruins in Mexico’s Yucatan Penninsula.