Coffee Break

For 3 weeks while G and I were taking Spanish lessons, these two words were music to my ears.  From 10 to 10:30 am, we were able to grab a snack from the ladies who set up shop at the Spanish school next to ours.  My Spanish teacher very quickly discovered my love of food, so we spent a good deal of time discussing it.  She shared with me the ‘snack’ tradition in Guatemala.  My favorites were the tostadas with beans, guac, cabbage and salsa or a taco stuffed with potatoes and covered with the same stuff.  Tostadas and tacos are different then their Mexican counterparts.  The Guatemalan tostada starts with a thicker and crunchier fried corn tortilla.  The Guatemalan tacos are actually rolled up and then fried.  George usually opted for a bread roll (pan) with a chile relleno, guac, beans, hot sauce and cabbage.  For something sweet, he’d grab a rellenitos de plátano (small balls of mashed plantains filled with sweetened black beans, fried and sprinkled with sugar). Another favorite snack was the corn on the cob.  We preferred ours with salt, but the locals smothered them with all kinds of condiments including ketchup.  Truth be told, I kept my distance from the loaded down cobs of corn.

Lunchtime is typically the most substantial meal in Guatemala.  Some local restaurants would have pots of stews sitting in the entrance, which was almost impossible to pass once you caught wind of the smell.   Without fail, they would have ample delicious soups and salads as well for me to try.  George usually opted to try as much meat as possible.  As many of you know, I don’t eat meat and therefore cook primarily veggie food.  If G doesn’t have a big chunk of meat at least every second day, he’s convinced that his body needs meat asap and that he couldn’t possibly carry on.  Eating a big meal at lunch worked out well for both of us, because I could cook veggie for dinner without any complaints.

One of the dishes that I really enjoyed was vegetarian pepian.  The dish almost tastes like an Indian curry because you begin by toasting spices in a dry pan.  I also highly recommend the panaderias (bakeries) in Guatemala – plenty of fresh bread and sweets to choose from.

G and I celebrated the completion of our Spanish classes with some frozen bananas dipped in chocolate and covered with nuts followed by a few too many Quetzalteca + sprite.


“…just follow the plan…”

Several years ago, we were on the coast in Oaxaca state for Nat and August’s wedding.  Amazing.  So, in my mind, Oaxaca City was a must see as we drove through Mexico.  Nat and August spent a bunch of time there, so we picked their brains while crashing at their pad in SF before xmas.  From what August told us, I gathered that food in Oaxaca is should be the biggest tourist attraction. August also sent us a 3-step plan to epicurean delights in Oaxaca.

We had stayed at mostly some sketchy places on the way down to Oaxaca, so I wanted a place in the city with a few more comforts.  We ended up getting a nice little hotel room.  I was pacified.  As a side note, with a piping hot high pressure shower, good bed, and blazing fast internet, I can live just about anywhere doing just about anything.

As mentioned, I was determined to stick to the plan.  We were exhausted the first night in Oaxaca after days and days of driving, so we picked a full restaurant on the central park for dinner.  In my mind, basically any food item + guacamole = bliss.  I saw chapulines + guacamole on the menu.  Awesome… = bliss.  However, I hadn’t tried yet “chile relleno con queso”, so I opted for that.  When we got home, I looked up chapulines.  Apparently a delicacy in Oaxaca (cool), toasted grasshoppers (not cool).  Disaster averted.  The chile relleno was delicious by the way.  The queso was flavored perfectly with fresh herbs and it was served in the rojo mole (one of 7 moles that Oaxaca is also known for).  George did not have such luck.  He got chicken in green mole (another of the 7 moles).  The mole was sweet, and we believe in separation of church and state (sweet and savory).

The next morning, we headed for one of the places on August’s list.  After hunting it down in the market, we found the mandated eating establishment.  We ordered chilaquiles verdes con huevo.  This time, the green mole was sour.  I emailed August and Natalie and enquired what the heck green mole was supposed to taste like.  Nat told me to stick to the plan – it was implied that we were eating less than awesome food because we had veered of course.

Needless to say, we did stick to the plan.  The food was awesome, but with little Spanish, I was struggling to eat vegetarian while staying true to August.  That evening, we took advantage to the thriving night life in Oaxaca.  We tagged along with a parade around the city.  A school had planned a concert that began with hundreds of students following a band around the streets of central Oaxaca.  It was quite a fiesta when you added in some dancing, tequila, and two giant nurses.  We classed it up with a bottle of rum and some coke.  I thought that we had again lucked out with our timing.  As it turns out, there were 3 more processions (2 weddings and one of just bicyclists).

The following day, we checked out Monte Alban before continuing the journey to the Yucatan and L. Batt + Bud.



Inuvik – the end of the road

We were not quite sure what to expect in Inuvik. We found some very welcoming people and an igloo church. We stopped in at the visitors center. After a little bit of conversation with the woman working at the vistor center about the cologne G was wearing, I saw a twinkle in her eye that ended with us trading one of G’s cologne for a whole Arctic Char. She was also kind enough to welcome us into her home for a dinner of homemade char chowder and fresh bannock. We talked a lot about the people and politics of northern Canada.