You see huge containers of brightly coloured liquids on almost every street corner and street market – Aguas Frescas are all-natural fruit and veg drinks – some mixed with herbs, nuts and even flowers and cactus – blended with water and sugar if desired and served chilled. They’re deliciously refreshing, especially on a roasting hot day and cost next to nothing compared with the freshly squeezed juices of home – here they’re 25 pesos for a super large cup (AUD1.50-1.80).
In the packed street stalls large white tortillas called tlayudas are prepared by spreading pork fat and bean paste, adding some quesillo, either folded over and toasted on a red-hot flat oven top or pizza-like, flat toasted in an oven – either way they’re a Oaxacan speciality and quite delicious.
For lunch we tried a degustation plate of the 7 Moles of Oaxaca:
- Negro – A rich, savoury-sweet mole that’s dark and bitter with a complex herb, ground chile and spice mix and lots of dark cacao (chocolate)
- Rojo – Red mole or mole poblano, a tad spicier with some dark chocolate and spices
- Coloradito – ‘Shade of Red’ – something in between Negro and Rojo
- Amarillo (Spanish for yellow – who knew?) – more like an Indian curry sauce so no chocolate
- Verde – green of course, with jalapenos and cilantro (get used to those two words – everywhere)
- Chichilo – a dark, spicy and rich sauce with dried chiles de arbol
- Manchamantel – This is what’s called a ‘tablecloth-staining’ mole as it’s thick red with chiles, often with fresh pineapple pieces for sweetness (which ours had today)
Followed by the most delicious soup ever – Sopa Oaxaqueńa with shredded chicken, fried tortilla strips, tiny mushrooms, zucchini flowers, small pearls of heritage corn and a small bite of chile. A truly flavourful broth and one of our favourites, YUM! Oh, and did I mention a generous bowl costs AUD$6.
And then to finish the afternoon off (after a digestive glass of Mezcal of course – one made with wild cactus and one with a herb we can’t remember), a refreshing cone of Nieve leche quemada con tuna – not quite as you might imagine (the tuna bit I mean), but Snow milk burned with prickly pear…