Starting from yesterday there was the imminent sense that we were about to depart Oaxaca and needed to accomplish everything left on our list.
First up was Chef taking us to the 20th of November Market for dinner. There's this line of grilled meat stands, all serving the same meats at the same prices, and you cruise on over to your stand of choice and tell them how much of whatever kind(s) of meat you want and they grill it to order.
There's an area with tables where you sit and wait for them to bring the grilled meat to you, along with the tortillas and whatever accoutrements you want. We had avocado, pico de gallo, radish, cucumber, grilled spring onions and chile. It's a very primitive setting, no utensils or plates, but the simple flavors are so satisfying. Reminded me of a backyard barbecue, where everything is smoky and shared.
After dinner we did a stroll around the Zocalo (city center), and encountered these miraculous little gelatins. Can you believe the flower designs are made through syringe injections? Apparently there's a Mexican lady in San Francisco that does this. I need to learn from her.
After dinner all of us in the program went out for drinks (Chef joined us) and karaoke (Chef didn't join us). The karaoke is different than any other kind I've done before - instead of a private room or public stage, everyone is sitting in the audience and you sing with a mike from your table. It's dark and club-like so there's no real sense of exposing yourself. The real Mexicans sang sorrowful ballads, which kind of killed the mood for us Americans but served as a cultural experience. I'm just glad we all got a chance to go out before the program was over.
Today was spent with a last lunch at El Quinque, then a trip to Rufino Tamayo, the pre-Columbian museum. Rufino Tamayo was a painter that personally collected all of these art/artifacts. There were hundreds of figures and objects to look at, all over a thousand years old.
After that Cris and I went guayabera (traditional dress shirt) shopping. We bought five shirts, including one as a gift for Julius for being a great roommate and all around nice guy (he let me borrow his waterproof jacket that mushroom foraging day it poured rain, preventing me from certain death).
After whiling away the afternoon, we attended the program's farewell dinner at La Olla, Chef Pilar's restaurant. The table was set beautifully, and we were treated to yet another 4-5 course meal.
And so ends our three week stay in Oaxaca. I will probably never come back, but the food and the experiences of making it will always stay with me. The ingredients and techniques I learned will most likely make it into the future dishes I create. I can see it already, mole negro ice cream. Oaxaca has become and will always be a part of me.