Eat and Learn!

By Brooke Gazer

Around the world some of the tastiest food is sold by street vendors. Some people may be leery about eating “street food” but I believe it is safer than what might be found on a salad bar at a five star hotel. This is because vendors rely on local repeat business; if several regulars get sick word travels faster than ice cream melting on hot pavement and that entrepreneur is out of business. You won’t go wrong if you look for a vendor who has a crowd of locals surrounding his stall.

Tacos are one of the most common forms of street food in Mexico and every region makes these savory morsels differently. In the southern states tacos are made with corn tortillas while the north favors wheat flour. Even within the same region fillings and salsas as can very considerably from one place to another. If you want to experience the flavor of Mexico no trip is complete without having sampled tacos from a few local vendors.

After frequenting some “taquerias” you may want to repeat the culinary experience upon returning home. You could just go to your local market and buy ready made tortillas and salsa but mass produced products are never quite the same as the freshly made delicacies, bursting with flavor, that are found here in Mexico. “Chiles&Chocolate” present a great opportunity to learn exactly how to replicate local cuisine authentically.

This is a “hands on” cooking class starting with the basics. Alfredo begins by offering an overview of several kinds of chilies before he puts you to work making a variety of salsas. Next tortillas are formed from “masa” on a hand operated press and cooked on a comal (a shallow clay plate). This is not as easy as it looks and there is a definite learning curve involved. Once the salsa and tortillas are done everyone takes a break to enjoy a few quesadillas and a glass of agua de jamaica.

After partaking in some refreshment the class gets to work on an assortment of fillings, including beans, meat, shrimp and vegetables. More tortillas are produced along with sopes and tlayuda shells. Finally everything is assembled on giant platters and the group sits down to some serious eating accompanied by fruit flavored aguas and frozen margaritas.

This is a very informal atmosphere and Alfredo has an uncanny ability to make everyone feel comfortable and equally competent as groups prepare food at various work stations. The four hour class costs 65 USD per person, including a recipe booklet and of course the delicious lunch which everyone has prepared together. To book : chiles.chocolate@yahoo.com Cel. 958 100 7339

Brooke Gazer operates a bed and breakfast in Huatulco. www.bbaguaazul.com

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