The traditional cuisine of Oaxaca consists of simple ingredients, lots of tortillas, and a modest pride. The base of most dishes is the tortilla, or more generally corn, which is a staple in both the general Mexican diet and specifically the Oaxaqueno diet. The art of crafting a tortilla predates colonial times, and the traditional steps involved in making tortillas are still practiced by some women in Oaxaca. The woman begins by grinding the corn on the metate until it becomes masa. Then, she forms balls with the masa and pats them out until they are perfectly round and thin uncooked tortillas. She then takes the perfectly-shaped round tortillas and cooks them briefly on the comal, flipping them often so they cook evenly and do not burn. The art of crafting tortillas is highly respected, almost sacred, among traditional Oaxaqueños.
One of the most famous Oaxacan dishes is the Tlayuda, or Mexican Pizza. It is a dish that begins with a rather large semi-crunchy tortilla that is then covered with toppings of your choice. The first topping is usually ascento (pork fat), then a layer of beans, quesillo (Oaxaca cheese), lettuce, tomato, and herbs. Finally, the tlayuda is topped with meat, local squash blossoms (flor de calabaza), mushrooms, or some combination of the aforementioned toppings.
While the ingredients are simple, in combination they are delicious, and the Oaxaqueños seem to take the most pride in the presentation of their dishes.
A simple quesadilla (pictured above) filled with quesillo and flor de calabaza is adorned with black beans, queso fresco, and salsa verde.
At Itanoni, or “The Corn Restaruant” as Professor Rankin refers to it, everything is either made with corn or wrapped in a corn tortilla.
The presentation at Itanoni is very simple, but the tortillas are perfectly round (see below) and the food it art!
At Itanoni, they even make corn milk or atole; the chocolate atole (pictured above) is a common drink among Oaxacans and is enjoyed all day long.
By: Amanda Jones