(The Sunday Times).- The sun sinks gently behind the mountains as I land at Oaxaca airport, filling the skies of southern Mexico with golden light. My eyes light up too because I have been dreaming about visiting this place for close to a decade. In 2014 a new Mexican joint in Barcelona called Oaxaca drew my attention to the city and its food, and ever since I have been reading everything about them, drooling over pictures of both. Finally, I am here to see how the reality lives up to my dreams.
Oaxaca is the name of both the region and its capital city (the anglicized form, Wahaca, was chosen by Thomasina Miers for her chain of restaurants that introduced the UK to Mexican street food). It’s a region of 16 different indigenous groups, rugged hilltops, verdant valleys, semi-arid grasslands, and 370 miles of Pacific coastline, all of which adds up to a wealth of ingredients: herbs, spices, livestock, and insects, as well as corn, chocolate, and cactus. Agave is used in the local brew mezcal, tequila’s stronger, smokier cousin.
And if Oaxaca is the gastronomic heart of Mexico, Oaxaca City is its epicenter: a jumble of haphazardly cobbled streets, vibrantly colorful houses, and more trendy coffee shops, art galleries, and restaurants than I can count.
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Source: The Sunday Times