Exploring Oaxaca's Pueblos Mancomunados

Couple stands in front of agave on hike in Oaxaca mountains.

editor’s note: the following post is from Billy and Kaki Burruss, who have kindly capitulated to my request for chronicles of their Oaxaca adventures. If you are interested in arranging a trip in the Pueblos Mancomunados, Billy and Kaki recommend Expediciones Sierra Norte. Kaki writes: Pueblos Mancomunados are seven towns that have united to form an ecological preserve. They manage their forests for conservation and firewood, they bottle water, and provide cabins and guides for hikers. At nearly 10,000 feet, […]

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Garlic Chipotle Love Sauce

My cooking project for today was to make the opening recipe in my latest, favorite cookbook: Simple Food, Big Flavor: Unforgettable Mexican-inspired Dishes from My Kitchen to Yours, by Aaron Sanchez. Carl recognized Aaron’s name as one of the judges on a kitchen show ,”Chopped”  I had read a review of this book on either the Seattle Times or the NY times.  I asked for it at our local Deming library.  Don’t know if they ordered it because of me, but […]

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Seven Common Misconceptions about Tequila and Mezcal

A pile of agave cores, ready to be roasted for mezcal.

Tequila and mezcal are made from “cactus juice.” Agave is not a cactus, but rather a member of the botanical order Asparagales, which includes asparagus and narcissus. (Native to the New World, the genus Agave is exceedingly diverse, with well over 100 varieties in Mexico alone.) Mezcal is a type of Tequila. If you want to get down to brass tacks (and I think you do), Tequila is a variation on mezcal, or distilled agave spirits. Mexican laws about the […]

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El Codo: Shopping for Dry Goods, Piloncillo, and Honey

A Players Cigarette illustration of a bee and honey comb.

  editor’s note: In which El Codo accosts some random lady in the super market and starts lecturing her on oatmeal ingredients A couple of weeks ago an exasperated gringa asked me if I spoke English. After I answered ¡Si!” she unloaded her frustration: “Where in the heck does a person find brown sugar down here?” Having chuckled many times at the outrageous price of “imported” boxes of brown sugar (that had become as hard as an adobe brick) I […]

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Mushroom Season in the Sierras.

San Juanito, Chihuahua, Feria del Hongos 2013

While It’s Monsoon Season in the Desert, It’s Mushroom Season in the Sierras. Rain! The water of life! Dry throat-parching dust turns to luscious greasy mud. People who have been lethargic all summer come alive and start to smile. Struggling plants that look like weeds become towering corn plants with fat fuzzy ears as big as your forearm. Tenuous little blue flowers on slithering stringy vines bring forth a bonanza of beans. And underground a quiet revolution is brewing. Overnight, […]

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Good Brands of Dog Food in Mexico? A Glossary of Terms

Carl and Lorena’s beloved Poco A reader writes: Hello Carl Could you please provide me with the names of some of the better quality dog foods. I can’t read Spanish (yet) Thanks Lois editor’s note: Carl is lurking in his northern lair, so I turned to PG correspondent El Codo for some investigative reporting. El Codo: Northern Mexico, the Baja California peninsula, and larger cities are more prosperous and a person is more likely to find expensive dogs, and therefore […]

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Oaxaca Attractions

Check out Viator.com for Oaxaca travel recommendations written by an, ahem, renowned Mexico expert. Also of possible interest: the three day itinerary and an overview of Oaxaca cuisine. I’m impressed by the company’s dedication to finding writers who have actually recently visited the locations in question.

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Chiles of Mexico: Pasilla de Oaxaca

A pile of dried chiles from Oaxaca.

One of the twenty-four varieties of dried chiles more or less exclusive to Oaxaca (though found in parts of Puebla), the chile pasilla de Oaxaca grows in small pockets high in the forbidding Sierra Mixe. Also known as the chile mije, the pasilla de Oaxaca is ripened on the vine and then smoked in small batches. This chile is not produced or exported on any kind of large scale. Although pasilla de Oaxaca is often described as “fruity,” the batch […]

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Cerveza Rising: Mexico's Craft Beer Revolution

A picture of a bottle of Hidalgo beer, from Mexico.

  When I was in my twenties, I considered Mexico to be beer heaven. At the time I was an avowed drinker of cheap light beer and Mexican beer was basically a better, slightly cheaper version of the beer I was drinking at home (Olympia and Rainier). Then I turned 30 and something terrible happened: I developed a taste for  craft beer. This was bad news on a number of levels. For one thing, it fit into a distinct and […]

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