Ocho Semanas en Oaxaca: Episodio 2

Well, Sunday afternoons seem to be my blogging time these days. But I do have visitors coming the next couple of weekends, so that might postpone my writing a bit. It’s been a pretty productive week. I did some shopping, some cooking, some exploring, and of course, some eating! I also did some work…but who wants to hear about that?

I got my haircut this week. I went back to this shop that I tried last time. It’s a little like going to a supercuts or something in the states, not like fancy or anything. I had the same stylist, so that was interesting. I had wanted to get a super short cut because it’s hot here, but he kind of refused to cut it any shorter, so oh well. It still feels much cooler because he did thin it a bit. Maybe when I’ve had a bit more practice on my Spanish, I’ll find a more advanced salon and reconsider the super short bob.

I also found a Spanish tutor. He and his wife run a small Spanish language program here in town. We met at a cafe on Monday after work and had a nice initial session. He seems to understand that my goals are to become more conversational and to learn more words and phrases related to my law practice. And he gave me some great restaurant suggestions. For our next session, we are planning to meet at a place called Vino and Vinyl. I’m kind of excited as I had already identified it as a place I wanted to check out.

I finally tried one of the street empanadas. There are these older women who sell them on the street corners throughout the downtown area. All of the guidebooks and sites say you should try them. I would recommend you not try them at 8pm. They are not molten hot at that point as the women are about to close up for the day and go home. It was fine, but it was much better once I reheated it at home. I have no idea what is in it.

I’ve eaten several times this week at the stand near my bungalow. It’s a cute little stand run by a small family. They make amazing tacos. I need to remember which of the salsas sets my mouth on fire, but they are both very good. And I tried the alhambre, which is like an assortment of meat, peppers, and cheese served with fresh tortillas. It was delicious. There is bacon mixed in with the bistec! It is, however, too much for me to eat in one sitting. The woman who runs the place laughed because she knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it all. But she gave me a very nice to-go package and reminded me that they are closed on Sundays.

I also had the most amazing ensalada de tomates in a restaurant recommended by the Spanish tutor. It has an assortment of the tomato types that grow in Oaxaca and is served on a beet puree and with some bitter greens. I’m not sure what the greens were. They were good, but I can’t figure out what to compare them to. The purple tomatillos were my favorite variety of tomato.

In the cooking arena, I made up some marinated tasajo. I used tajin and adobe sauce. It was pretty good, but spicy. Later in the week, I reheated some of it and made some homemade refried beans with rice and sauteed Brussels sprouts. I don’t really know how to cook for one, so I had plenty of leftovers on that meal too. And I finally decided to take a stab at stuffed, fried squash blossoms (flores de calabaza). I used a goat cheese and garbanzo flour for the dredge. They were pretty good, though I would dial back the garlic slightly. I am not used to using garlic powder at home and so need to adjust my proportions.

I also discovered what is very similar to a Super Target in the states. It has everything from groceries to clothes to home goods to tires. It was an interesting place. I prefer shopping for my of my food in the farmer’s markets that happen three times a week, but this place was great for things like toilet paper. I added a couple of new items to the kitchen tools, a wooden spatular and a grater. I did need to take a cab back from there because I was concerned my shopping bag might not hold up to the weight.

I am enjoying nature more here than I do at home. First, I pretty much eat every meal outside. And there was the brightest, most beautiful moon the other night. And you can see it because you don’t have the city lights! I finally got to experience the rain here. It is supposed to be the rainy season, but I understand that really takes off in June. However, it did rain two evenings this week and it was beautiful. I’ll have to try to figure out how to capture that in photos.

Still not totally sure what the rest of today holds. On the one hand, going downtown is always fun. However, I know next weekend is going to be packed with adventure. My friend Maria and her mother are coming to visit. We already have at least two major excursions planned and that does not even account for the local museums and markets! So, maybe just chilling this weekend is self-preservation.

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