Bronze earrings by Mexican artisan Armando Lozano take the shape of masks. © Alvin Starkman 2008

Armando Lozano Ramirez, master sculptor and jeweler: Oaxaca’s “man of steel”

A Voice from Oaxaca Some 30 years ago, a youthful 27-year-old acquired a piece of machinery by chance. Not knowing exactly what to do with it, or how it could somehow become a positive factor in his life, he took a gamble and purchased some modest tools and metal. Armando Lozano Ramírez was then living […]

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Riding the cart to the train, near Ixhuatan, Oaxaca © Tony Burton 1985

Did you know? Mexico has many “Est”raordinary railway places

An earlier column, “Microwaves (with a view)”, examined the scenic delights to be found by following the “Microondas” road signs that puzzle many first-time visitors. That column probably didn’t appeal to any passing historians, but another road-sign abbreviation, “EST”, could easily have been invented just for them. EST stands for Estación. In some contexts, this would […]

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Tehuana Mamas Cook Up Magic: Food and Fiestas in the Isthmus

Perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of Oaxaca is the tremendous difference between one region of the state and another. The sierras which crisscross it form natural boundaries between enclaves of culture which have existed since pre-Hispanic times. One of the most unique and charismatic of these is a group known as istmeños, inhabitants of the Isthmus of […]

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Mexican rice and amaranth pudding: Arroz y amaranto con leche

This variation of the classic arroz con leche is served in Zimatlan, Oaxaca, one of the largest amaranth-producing areas in Mexico. The addition of popped amaranth grains adds nutrients as well as a delicious, nut-like flavor to the Mexican rice pudding. Ingredients 1 cup rice 2 cups water 1 cup milk 1 can condensed milk 1 cup amaranth cereal […]

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A man carries home a very fresh fish in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca © Geri Anderson,1999

Cooking in Puerto Escondido: Fish and fruit from Mexico’s tropics

Two of the biggest buzzwords in today’s media-dominated culinary world are “fresh” and “local,” and on a recent visit to Mexico’s southern Pacific coast, we found the food to be both. Taking advantage of the region’s abundant fresh ingredients, we shopped, cooked and ate our way through the beach town of Puerto Escondido. We had […]

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Chef Pilar Cabrera at her La Olla restaurant and cooking school in Oaxaca © Douglas Favero, 2011

A Oaxaca culinary ambassador: an interview with Chef Pilar Cabrera

On a recent trip to Oaxaca, I had the pleasure of speaking with Pilar Cabrera, chef, cooking instructor and, most recently, participant in Iron Chef Canada. Chef Cabrera kindly took time out from her busy schedule to sit down and discuss the influences that led to this career, as well as her cooking school, ever-changing menus […]

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