Casa de El Refugio

Dear Alice My husband and I often remarked to each other how the pictures on the El Refugio’s website somehow did not seem to do it justice. This is not because they are bad pictures but because there are qualities and features to El Refugio mere photography can not capture. And I am afraid mere…

Ole Mole

Sorry. I think I can do better about the title but the chiles have taken hold and I am a little giddy. After two trips to Oaxaca, a total of five weeks there so far and the prospect of another sixty days, starting today, I am more then a little giddy. Pasillas, guajillo, costeno, pulla, arbol, dance around my head as I lay in bed, like little fever dreams, hot and daring me, challenging me. Really it’s that intense.

Mia Chiles

So today in this new journal I will record from some favorite sources the chiles I love and seek to love.


Because we have eaten fruit our whole life, and more importantly have grown up in a city where commercially grown fruit predominated the selections available, we settle back in the illusion we know everything there is to know about fruit. Yes this could be said about food in general but something like fruit….

Recipe Dreams

If…someone dared to throw a bottle of black chocolate stout at me, could I deftly catch it, snap it open and blend it into the frioles borrachas of my dreams?

Green Sauce

Just as I have run across dozens of mole recipes (and heard of hundreds more) I seemed to stumbled into a whole world of green salsas, all made from tomatillos or sometimes in the market called tomates. The sauces are all intended to be table sauces, although a few cooks have hinted at cooked versions…

Cafe Frio

In the town of San Andreas Huyapaum, where the lovely El Refugio is situated, there is a coffee merchant, really a coffee family. We sat with them and discussed their wonderful product and Bonnie promised to bring them her wonderful Ice Coffee and the method and we could sit one afternoon and talk beans and…

The Road To Chochoyotes

Today we spent most of the morning with our cook and companion Lourdes at her favorite market in Colonia Reforma. She showed us the places where on our previous visits to Oaxaca she had brought home the most marvelous quesos and the most flavorful pollo and camerones. She walked through the indoor market, held everyday…

Pasilla de Oaxaca

Maybe the price was too high but I belive I really did buy high quality Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca in the Comsatti outdoor market. Our young yawning merchant had a friendly manner and did not seem to be a thief. And I have read in more then a few places that passilla de Oaxaca is…

The Price Of Pollo

We spent the morning about 20 miles south of Oaxaca in a town called Zaachila. Thursday is market day there.

Food as Work

There is a heritage of labor that many great cusines share. It is completely possible to appreciate and aspire to great effort when great result are to be achieved. I once had a coisant stuffed with chocalate on the Isle St. Loius that sent my mind spinning. It all at once possesed the qualities of…

The Ghosts Of El Refugio

You could see the chairs swaying. And if you shut your ears and opened your eyes, you knew something was there, something that haunted the place and really just wanted to sit and relax and take in the wonderful stormy view

Mutant Poblanos

Nowhere have I ever read or heard that poblano chiles get spicier and hotter after you cook them. But on two occasions now, both involving chile rejanos (one classical and the other detailed later involving a chayote and chicken stuffing) we have had the occasion to be starstle by the aggresive heat of the cooked…

Las Floras

To alleviate the efforts of some overly enthusiatic gardeners, we took a little trip to a local garden center on the road to Tlalacalula. It had the flavor of any western garden center except for again the value and there was a lushness and variety that belongs to places south of where we are from.

Pozole Rojo

The Etla mercado was a real treat. It snaked through the hilly streets and would it’s way to the Zocallo and the indoor mercado and the absoulutely wonderful church round back.


There is an Italian spirit stalking this land. I mean it. The freshness, the tv, the string cheese, it’s not Spanish, it’s Italian. Okay maybe it’s Mexican but I am reminded again and again of Italy and of things I experienced with my Italian-American parents and grandparents. In the Etla market, Lourdes, our guide and…


In the Etla Wednesday market, just round back of the zocalo, we stumble across 3 women vending agua miel and pulque.

The Hats of El Refugio

The sun is always there, except when it rains. This is a place where you want a hat sometimes. Luckily th landscape is littered with them.


Why I fell for a Mexican Supermarket is a difficult thing to explain.


We explained to the very helpful salesman that ‘no we were not going to Huatulco’. In these semi arid parts, where water collectted was very rare, He had every right to wonder what we were up to.

Frijoles Negros

Lourdes took one look at the beans and even before she saw the critters she said, “Vejaya y feo!!!”, which means old and ugly. We had old and ugly beans.


It turns out there is a system. Enchilades, enfrijoles, enmolades, entomates, are you getting en to it?

Mango Sorbet

Lovely Manila Mangos 1) The Syrup 2/3 cups of superfine sugar 1 cup of water Stir the sugar into the water over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely 2) The Fruit Puree 2 pounds…

Main Squeeze

The simple limone squeezer has had a long and storied place in Mexican history. The Zapotecs were known to honor the invention. And with the arrival of the Spanish, the squeezer went on to find a sacred place in the cultural and spiritual life of the Mexican population.

A Kilo of Anchos

Okay, even though I don’t speak Spanish, a guy in a hat “talked” me into buying a kilo of ancho chiles. Willing victim, I slightly misunderstood the amount I was buying but then I thought what I could do with a world of chiles. Well it all starts now!


Call me a collectivo To anywhere you may want to go

Tealimone, Romero, and a little Orange

Within the ritual of taemescal, I saw the prettiest of metaphors, how after bathing in steam infused with romero and orange, while drinking tea made from the same with taelimone the high flavor note I was made to feel as if I was being prepared to be served up as the main course in a…

Huachinango At Juarez

At the southest corner of the Mercado Benito Juarez, are the fish stalls. Fish in Oaxaca is largely driven or flown in from the Pacific coast. On my very first trip to the Juarez market we were struck by a particular family cutting up the day’s stock. “Resturant Quality” turned out to be the only…

No Soap Nopales

Okay it’s okra all over again. Or maybe another remake of the Blob. It any case we were both eaten alive by the clean bright green defanged cactus paddles, that everyone encouraged us to try.

Jose Zorilla Trapaga

When we first arrived in San Augustine Etla, I was surprised to see that the new museum Hector had spoken of was still under construction. Obviously I’d missed something during our discussion! Teams of architects and designers clutching 3′ rolls of plans and drawings mingled with work crews and scaffolding. Unlike litigious America, they kindly…

Expo – Venta

A delightful organic market exists at Garcia-Vigil on Friday Saturday

The Church at Tlacolula

Tlacolula has been a big market town for nearly 2,000 years. The 17th century church bespeaks a properous community. There is less of the humble, more of the gilt, and every drop of martyr’s blood looks fresh. Most of the gilt is in a chapel of the left side of the church.

Chocolate vs. Chocolate

It with total satisfication I contemplate the fact that both vanila and chocolate come from Mexico. But when children leave the nest, they become, well different.

We’ve Been Told…..

For weeks now, ever since we arrived in Oaxaca, there has been a teacher’s strike going on. We were told this was an annual event in May. They camp in the Zoccola, march through the streets, sent up tents everywhere to clog traffic and display banners and slogans. They hold classes and discussions and in…

Las Licuadoras

Well you see them just about everywhere. And there is an obvious history that folds back to food as work and how we can actually all work a little less. I mean never mind the washing machine. Let’s talk about the history of the metate and mano and the secret celebration on the kitchens when…

Inglesia de los Pobres

While waiting to shop with Lourdes, I thought to take a few pictures of our meeting spot. She had suggested the Inglesia de los Pobres as a shady central and comfortable spot to meet up in Colonia Reforma. In a city full of 16th century churches, the simplcity and comfort of this people’s church is…

Queseria “Arce”

Tlacolula has very nice queso. Etla has great queso. But we found we liked the queso from a particular shop in Colonia Reformia Lourdes had steered us to. The quesillo is ultra bueno but they have a queso con chille that is perfecto!!! We want to buy some cheese!!!!!!

Relojeria Cronos

The neediest transactions are best informed by simple courtesy and plain understanding. When the battery in your watch quits, it’s unsettling, mildly so , but time stops for you on a personal level and you need to get it fixed. We had passed by this place a few times in the evening when it was…