The Chocolate Life

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I'll be travelling to Oaxaca. Does anyone have any recommendations for places to see, food (chocolate!) to try, or things to do? Thanks!

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I've visited La Soledad and Chocolate Mayordomo on Mina st as well as a number of stalls in the market. They all sell the Oaxacan coarse ground chocolate and mole paste from the chocolate. Interestingly, those vendors that sell raw cacao (La Soledad) or have it displayed (Mayordomo) use unfermented cacao. Also interesting is the cacao is always ground with something. The "100%" (no sugar) at Mayordomo is actually ground with almonds. The other Mayordomo recipes contain either cinnamon, pecans, and/or vanilla. And the sugar content is always greater than cacao content. Mayordomo is very big down here. Always busy and several stores all within walking distance of each other (seems similar to Starbucks back home).

Thanks for the notes. Any pictures to go with them? Post them in Photos - don't forget to geotag them - and if you don't want to create an album for them I will.

:: Clay
So is Mayordomo a cafe chain? If so do they sell chocolate drinks - what sort?
Yes, they have several stores throughout Oaxaca. While I was there, I saw that they were selling hot chocolate (water or milk based with slightly different spiced chocolate mixes) and a cold chocolate slushie (I think it was a frozen milk slush that they used).

Their hot chocolate was served with sweet bread.
Any unusual spice mixes, or just the usual like cinnamon, chilli, vanilla, almonds etc? Did you have one?
The usual. Almost always cinnamon and almonds are there. Sometimes, nuez (pecans) are there also. No chiles in Mayordomo chocolate.

I had both the hot and the cold. I wouldn't say the taste was incredible, but it was pretty good. But the experience was unforgettable.

If anyone is interested, there's some really cool places in Escondido (north San Diego) which I recently found which have Oaxacan food, bread, and chocolate. I was going to post earlier, but slipped my mind.
Sure, Clay. I'll give it a try soon.
It's really amazing how pervasive chocolate is here. I had a cooking class in which we made a drink from corn and chocolate (atole con chocolate) and I went to a house where the mother served hot chocolate and was sure to let everyone know her "secret" recipe for the ground spices (almonds and less sugar - i think 1kilo cacao to 1kilo sugar).
I highly recommend anyone to travel here.
Really they use only unfermented cacao?
Is the drink you made the champurrado?
Yep, champurrado. Have you had it, also? I can still taste it. Yum. Oh and always con pan.
I also had Tejate in the mercado. It was an experience. I'll just leave it at that. :)

If the cacao is fermented it is washed of any fermentation byproduct, because I picked up a handful and smelled it and there was no smell but cacao shell/husk. Oh and in Mayordomo there appears to be 2 ways to get your ground chocolate: with shell and without. And of the couple times I saw the chocolate being ground the bean was put in whole.
Hi James, we are very interested to hear that you were just in Oaxaca and obviously had a good time. We were there in 2002 and loved it, and then had planned to go back in 2007, but were warned by a friend who had lived there that because of the social unrest it was too dangerous for tourists to visit. It broke our hearts, both for us not to be able to go and also to think about the people there who depended upon tourism for their livelihood. But it sounds like things may have gotten better. Did you ever feel uncomfortable walking around the city? Were you on your own or there as part of a tour group? Did you feel free to stroll around places like the central square in the evenings?
It was quite safe. I stayed by myself with a host family (I was actually taking some classes there) close to Llano park and mainly walked around the historical district. I was there during the holidays and whole families were out in the parks and the Zocalo late at night.
While I did get some odd stares and maybe the odd gringo comment or two (pale and 6'3" really sticks out), most everybody was very friendly.
That's great to hear, thanks for letting us know, we're really looking forward to going back again someday.


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