Oaxaca

James Cary
@james-cary
12/22/08 01:47:41PM
32 posts
I'll be travelling to Oaxaca. Does anyone have any recommendations for places to see, food (chocolate!) to try, or things to do? Thanks!
updated by @james-cary: 04/13/15 02:04:19PM
James Cary
@james-cary
01/05/09 09:11:00PM
32 posts
I've visited La Soledad and Chocolate Mayordomo on Mina st as well as a number of stalls in the market. They all sell the Oaxacan coarse ground chocolate and mole paste from the chocolate. Interestingly, those vendors that sell raw cacao (La Soledad) or have it displayed (Mayordomo) use unfermented cacao. Also interesting is the cacao is always ground with something. The "100%" (no sugar) at Mayordomo is actually ground with almonds. The other Mayordomo recipes contain either cinnamon, pecans, and/or vanilla. And the sugar content is always greater than cacao content. Mayordomo is very big down here. Always busy and several stores all within walking distance of each other (seems similar to Starbucks back home).
Clay Gordon
@clay
01/05/09 09:20:35PM
1,680 posts
James:Thanks for the notes. Any pictures to go with them? Post them in Photos - don't forget to geotag them - and if you don't want to create an album for them I will.:: Clay


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clay - http://www.thechocolatelife.com/clay/
James Cary
@james-cary
01/07/09 12:28:20AM
32 posts
Sure, Clay. I'll give it a try soon.It's really amazing how pervasive chocolate is here. I had a cooking class in which we made a drink from corn and chocolate (atole con chocolate) and I went to a house where the mother served hot chocolate and was sure to let everyone know her "secret" recipe for the ground spices (almonds and less sugar - i think 1kilo cacao to 1kilo sugar).I highly recommend anyone to travel here.
giovanni
@giovanni
01/08/09 01:35:26PM
9 posts
Really they use only unfermented cacao?Is the drink you made the champurrado?
James Cary
@james-cary
01/08/09 10:02:54PM
32 posts
Yep, champurrado. Have you had it, also? I can still taste it. Yum. Oh and always con pan.I also had Tejate in the mercado. It was an experience. I'll just leave it at that. :)If the cacao is fermented it is washed of any fermentation byproduct, because I picked up a handful and smelled it and there was no smell but cacao shell/husk. Oh and in Mayordomo there appears to be 2 ways to get your ground chocolate: with shell and without. And of the couple times I saw the chocolate being ground the bean was put in whole.
David & Gerard
@david-gerard
02/15/09 07:43:51AM
2 posts
Hi James, we are very interested to hear that you were just in Oaxaca and obviously had a good time. We were there in 2002 and loved it, and then had planned to go back in 2007, but were warned by a friend who had lived there that because of the social unrest it was too dangerous for tourists to visit. It broke our hearts, both for us not to be able to go and also to think about the people there who depended upon tourism for their livelihood. But it sounds like things may have gotten better. Did you ever feel uncomfortable walking around the city? Were you on your own or there as part of a tour group? Did you feel free to stroll around places like the central square in the evenings?
James Cary
@james-cary
05/20/09 02:11:03AM
32 posts
It was quite safe. I stayed by myself with a host family (I was actually taking some classes there) close to Llano park and mainly walked around the historical district. I was there during the holidays and whole families were out in the parks and the Zocalo late at night.While I did get some odd stares and maybe the odd gringo comment or two (pale and 6'3" really sticks out), most everybody was very friendly.
Tom
@tom
05/20/09 04:54:46AM
205 posts
So is Mayordomo a cafe chain? If so do they sell chocolate drinks - what sort?
James Cary
@james-cary
05/21/09 07:20:37PM
32 posts
Yes, they have several stores throughout Oaxaca. While I was there, I saw that they were selling hot chocolate (water or milk based with slightly different spiced chocolate mixes) and a cold chocolate slushie (I think it was a frozen milk slush that they used).Their hot chocolate was served with sweet bread.
Tom
@tom
05/21/09 07:37:23PM
205 posts
Any unusual spice mixes, or just the usual like cinnamon, chilli, vanilla, almonds etc? Did you have one?
James Cary
@james-cary
05/22/09 01:10:00AM
32 posts
The usual. Almost always cinnamon and almonds are there. Sometimes, nuez (pecans) are there also. No chiles in Mayordomo chocolate.I had both the hot and the cold. I wouldn't say the taste was incredible, but it was pretty good. But the experience was unforgettable.If anyone is interested, there's some really cool places in Escondido (north San Diego) which I recently found which have Oaxacan food, bread, and chocolate. I was going to post earlier, but slipped my mind.
David & Gerard
@david-gerard
05/25/09 02:52:36PM
2 posts
That's great to hear, thanks for letting us know, we're really looking forward to going back again someday.
Elaine Gonzalez
@elaine-gonzalez
05/27/09 05:05:31PM
4 posts
I have conducted chocolate tours to Mexico (including Oaxaca) since 1990. Unfortunately, my last tour was a year ago. Oaxaca is a hot bed of chocolate in Mexico, one of the few areas that still practice many of the chocolate traditions handed down to them by their ancestors. To get a real feel for the place, do as the locals do and have breakfast at Fonda Abuelita, one of the oldest stalls in the 20 de noviembre market. We traditionally order chocolate de agua and pan de yema. Then we cross the street to the Mercado San Benito Juarez to shop for chocolate pots, molinillos, traditional metal chocolate molds (used tor shape patties), jicaras (gourd drinking cups), and cacao beans--lavados (washed), beneficiados (partially fermented), and fermentados (fermented). If you're lucky, you may see someone selling pataxtle,"white cacao" which comes from the Theobroma Bi-Color trees. These beans are really special and are used to make perhaps the most revered chocolate drink of all--chocolate atole.
Tom
@tom
05/27/09 09:01:26PM
205 posts
Please tell more about the 'white cacao' drink I am very interested. Are the beans from bicolor washed or fermented? Where could I get some to try?
Elaine Gonzalez
@elaine-gonzalez
05/27/09 11:37:57PM
4 posts
The bi-color cacao beans are buried in a deep hole in the ground. This is done under certain astrological conditions by a few chosen women who, for six months, daily pour water into a hole alongside the covered beans. The beans ferment during that time, the shells turn black and crack open to reveal the chalk white transformation of the meat of the bean. The beans are then dried in the shade for several days. These beans are traditionally used to make the enormous head of foam that is placed on top of a cup filled with atole. Making the base for the foam on a metate is a laborious task but the results are amazing--a large bowl heaped with foam capable of staying "alive" for 7 or 8 hours. It is the most revered ceremonial drink in Oaxaca.You can sometimes find pataxtle (spelled many different ways) for sale in the Benito Juarez market as well as at the abastos market in Oaxaca city. You'll also find them in the village markets of Tlacolula, Teotitlan del Valle and others throughout the state of Oaxaca. I don't know of any purpose for using them other than for making foam for chocolate atole. Sometimes this drink is sold in the markets but I would not recommend drinking it there. The queen of chocolate atole making is Abigail Mendoza in Teotitlan del Valle.
Tom
@tom
05/28/09 01:53:44AM
205 posts
I have heard of bicolour seeds sold as macambo, the seeds are skewered on sticks and roasted then served salted.I would probably have no chance of getting to the places you mention as I am in Australia. Know anyone that would ship? My interest would be in making the drink, I make a lot of chocolate drinks from the bean using a Spectra 10 to grind the beans.
Elaine Gonzalez
@elaine-gonzalez
05/28/09 11:40:14AM
4 posts
The raw beans would be the ones that they skewer. Once they turn chalky they pulverize if you squeeze them and they would not be suitable for eating. I will send you the recipe for making chocolate atole if you write to me.The raw beans are easy to spot in the market. They resemble regular cacao beans but they are flatter and wider, similar to lima beans. The ones for sale are washed, not fermented per se. The fermented ones are the chalky ones. I do not know of a source for purchasing them outside of Mexico.
Pat Restie
@pat-restie
06/06/10 08:03:59PM
1 posts
Hi! I am a fellow chocolate lover traveling to Oaxaca in a few weeks. I read that you stayed with a host family while you were there....I would like to do the same thing, but I am having difficulty locating one over the internet. How did you locate a family? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Basil Yokarinis
@basil-yokarinis
07/04/14 06:55:32PM
1 posts

I've been told by some sellers of bicolor seeds (unfermented) that they are also used in tejate, though I have yet to find a tejate vendor who admits to using it - cacao blanco they call it here.

A few weeks ago, I had occasion to "discover" this cacao blanco when I asked about at the Sunday Tlacolula market. I bought some and roasted it, then bought more later at the central de abastos. They make a wonderful nutty tasting roasted snack, that, if roasted right, you can sometimes peel by hand. They require more roasting than theobroma cacao, and the skin is thicker.

I also ground some up using my champion juicer. This works great with cacao, actually turning out a decent liqueur through the fine screen, and pushing what remains of the skins/husks (I'm still not very good at winnowing) through. With the bicolor, the fat seems to be denser and with a higher melting point. Running it through the champion juicer was much harder than with cacao. It would not go through the fine screen. Maybe I needed to run it through a couple more times, I don't know. Anyway, I've been making a delicious hot chocolate with some fine "almendra blanca" criollo beans from Tabasco, and in my latest pot, I included about 15% bicolor. It's delicious! Very buttery and creamy, and mildly nutty. I've also tried making a "hot chocolate" with only bicolor, and that's also delicious, though it tastes not at all of chocolate.

So much fun experimenting!...

Giselle
@giselle
01/11/16 01:56:39PM
3 posts

Hi

I spent a few weeks in Oaxaca tasting and making hot chocolates. I wrote up several articles about my experiences on my blog Ultimate Hot chocolate (www.ultimatehotchocolate.com).

I found without my difficulty local women who taught me a variety of ways to make different locally loved hot chocolates. Everyone here drinks hot chocolate and it is an important part of big cultural events such as weddings etc. So groups often come together to make family recipes the traditional way. 

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