Eating and cooking in Oaxaca, Puebla and Cancun
On my way to Mexico for 6 weeks to learn a bit about the food and its indigenous/colonial roots. Looking for recs on cooking classes, street food, restaurants and markets. I'm fairly familiar with Oaxaca, but really need recs for Puebla and Cancun. I'm mainly going to Cancun to meet a friend, but am hoping to learn a bit about Yucatecan food while I'm there.
With six weeks I would recommend spending at least a day in Merida, for many reasons but particularly the one-day Los Dos cooking class. I took it last October and thoroughly enjoyed it. David Sterling knows his stuff and really takes Yucatecan food seriously.
(I should disclose that I've since relocated to Merida but regretfully haven't maintained contact with Chef Sterling. I guess I figure he doesn't need neophytes taking up his time...)
IIRC we started off making the pita-like tortillas for panuchos and salbutes with the help of a couple of Mayan women. Then David gave us an overview of the history and geography of the Yucatan and how they've shaped the food, and also of the ingredients and techniques. After that we walked through the streets of central Mérida to the fascinating and labyrinthine Mercado Municipal for shopping and a (for me) way too brief tour. Returning by taxi, we were treated to panuchos and salbutes courtesy of the Mayan señoras, and then we began cooking the main meal: crema de cilantro, pollo pibil, an arroz verde, and a flambéed platano and sorbet dessert. You leave with a Los Dos chef apron and a spiral-bound book of recipes and further information about Yucatecan cuisine.
One other rec: Dante bookstores publishes a great little cookbook called Cocina Yucateca de la Hacienda Teya. It's about 50 recipes with beautiful photography of the ingredients, the techniques, and the final dishes on each page. It comes in English or Spanish, there's a compact version, and it's fairly cheap as I assume it's subsidized by the Hacienda. I don't know if they have Dante in Cancun but there's one right on the Plaza Grande in Merida.
Looked at the website and it is interesting. But, I don't think I will get over to Tlaxcala, nor will I have (or can afford) 5 days. And, while I love the food of Puebla, I think the idea of just cooking with some other people and picking up a new recipe or method or 2 is the attraction. I hope to see you in Patzcuaro this Aug!
In 2008 I took cooking classes from Chef Alonso Hernandez through the hotel Mesones Sacrista Campania in Puebla (classes held at their sister hotel). It was lots of fun - my first time to do a cooking class while traveling. Max size was about 6 or 8 but on one day there were just 2 of us. We made several moles, soup, desserts, various salsas and beverages. Visited the market with the chef and got a book with all of the recipes to bring home. Most of the people in the class were doing it for fun (as opposed to being serious cooks) but the class was very enjoyable. Since then, I have also looked at Tlaxcala - thinking that if I can get back to Puebla area, I'd like to try Mexican Home Cooking. Another poster commented that Tlaxcala is very close to Puebla and it is -you'd need transportation between them but if you stayed in Tlaxcala, you could also work in some visits to Puebla to enjoy the sights and historical center. From your comments, I think you might like the Puebla class. You can contact the hotel and make inquiry to see if my info is still applicable.
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