Saturday, December 23, 2017

Noche de Rabános, Oaxaca, Mexico: December 23, 2017

Radish Art
Several years ago our friend Francoise told us about her visit to Oaxaca to see Noche de Rábanos held every December 23. A couple of months ago we did an internet search and found our perfect tour for Noche de Rábanos (Night of the Radishes) with Tia Stephanie ToursNoche de Rábanos happens every December 23 in Oaxaca City, Mexico. The radish carving competition began about 120 years ago. Noche de Rábanos was inspired by the magnificent displays fruit and vegetable sellers created to set themselves apart from the competition. Some of the radishes used in this competition can be as large as 80 cm/39 inches.

Each artist is assigned a space around the Zocalo (main square), and long lines of spectators wait for their chance to file past the radish art creations large and small. The atmosphere was festive while we all waited to be amazed. And, amazing it was.

The Winner





Besides radish art, there was corn husk and strawflower art.

Straw Flower Art

Corn husk art
Today was a day of several "firsts" for us. Before we went to the Noche de Rábanos event, we had our first cooking class with Oscar Carrizosa at his Cafe Crespo Cooking School. First he took us to the market to gather some of the ingredients and then with his direction, we prepared our lunch.

We were shown how to make corn masa for tortillas. We added chopped squash blossoms to some of the tortillas. When lunch preparations were finished, we learned how to press the golf-ball sized balls of tortilla dough and cook them on a comal (large terra cotta flat dish set on a heat source). The plain tortillas were imprinted with a cochineal red dye before cooking on the comal.

stamp with cochineal red coloring for tortillas

Agua Fresca (fruit flavored water) and Oscar's Mezcal
Crema de Aguacate (Cream of Avocado Soup)
Mixiotes (a piece of rabbit covered with a chili sauce and steamed in a parchment paper packet)
Mancha Manteles (means tablecloth stainer) - a lovely mole with plantains and pineapple served with chicken (can also use chicken or pork)
Pollo Encacahuatado (Chicken in Peanut Sauce) - another mole this one served with duck
Roasted Tomato Salsa
Chili Rellenos de Picadillo (small peppers stuffed with a shredded chicken mixture)
Chichilo (a meat in sauce dish flavored with avocado leaf)
Helado de Elote (Sweet Corn Ice Cream)
Flan

Lunch was a delicious feast--a treat to the eye and our palates. Oscar graciously provided the recipes for the above items. Not sure if I'll be able to re-create these dishes or not, but I'll give it a try sometime.

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