We met at 9:30 A.M. at La Olla, and from there we walked several blocks to La Merced Market, which, according to Pilar, is one of the best neighborhood markets in the city. At the market we bought the ingredients that we would need for our cooking lesson.
Pilar led us on a shopping expedition through the market.
From the market, we then went with our purchases to Pilar's home for our cooking class. She has a large kitchen/dining area which accommodated our group of around eleven students.
Our menu was going to consist of several kinds of stuffed chile peppers... some spicy, some mild... some fresh, some dried... served with Mexican rice and home-made tortilllas. For dessert we would have gelatin flavored with "rompope" (Mexican eggnog).
All of us donned aprons since we were not going to be mere observers... we were going to actively participate in the preparation of our menu.
|(photo taken by another student)|
(Pilar really should get some different aprons for the guys in the class!)
The fresh chiles must be roasted over an open flame,and then allowed to sweat within a closed container. After that most of the skin can be peeled off of the chile.
Jane is stirring the "picadillo", a mixture of chicken, tomatoes, onions, garlic, raisins and almonds. The "picadillo" will be used to stuff some of the peppers. Meanwhile, to the left, a home-made salsa to serve over the chiles is being prepared.
Instead of "picadillo", some of the chile peppers are stuffed with "frijoles", cheese (specifically, "queso fresco") and squash blossoms.
The stuffed chiles are dredged in flour, dipped in an egg batter, and then fried.
When we were done cooking, we then feasted on what we had created. It was a delicious lunch. These stuffed peppers are unlike any "chile relleno" that you are likely to find in a Mexican restaurant in the United States.
Pilar is not only a talented chef and teacher, but she is a charming and gracious person. Our day at "La Casa de los Sabores" was a delightful and memorable experience. I highly recommend a class to anyone planning to visit Oaxaca!