The Flavors of Oaxaca

Updated: Aug 4, 2018

I had been wanting to plan a trip to Oaxaca for sometime now, not just because everything I heard on how amazing food was but because I really wanted to see how the natural dye coloring was done specially with the insect parasite in the cactus. Since Oaxaca is a 5-hour drive from Mexico City we decided to make this a road trip and this would also allow us to enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way. We found an Airbnb that was a 10 minute walk from the center of the town and a bonus was that the daughter of the housekeeper worked at a tour agency, which facilitated the tours we were planning on. Like I mentioned before, Oaxaca is known for the exquisite and authentic food, here you will find the best moles and they are truly out of this world no mater which is your favorite, green, red or any of the 7 moles Oaxaca has to offer. Now I could not visit Oaxaca and not try their most talked about dish, the tlayudas with chapulines (grasshoppers), and well lets just say I won’t be trying that again because one time was enough for me! make sure you give them a try.

My favorite tour was the woven textiles; this region has a town called Teotitlan del Valle, they have been making their natural color dyes for centuries. Here the woven textiles are known as tapetes. All the colors used come from natural dyes obtained from things like tree moss, fruit, flowers, pecan shells, leaves, bark, including the fascinating cochineal insect that lives in a nopal (cactus). Since pre-hispanic times this insect has been used as a natural dye. This insect that is really a parasite lives in the cactus, it produces an explosion of a vibrant red used to make colors ranging from magenta and yellow and when combined with other natural things it is used to give a life of color to the beautiful woven textiles. Some of these designs take months to complete. It’s hard labor requires mostly men to work on these heavy foot pedal loom machines made of wood, the prices for these woven textiles can range anywhere from $100 US dollars to $1,500 and can go up on special orders. I could not help myself and splurged on a beautiful unique modern woven textiles rug but since it was so beautiful we decided to use it on our wall. I left Oaxaca wishing that someday I could go back and do the many other things we didn’t get to do like, Hierve el Agua waterfall and the Alebrijes.