When I travel to a country that isn’t English-speaking, I usually equip myself with the basics of the language to get by. I have a pretty good ear for languages and can pick them up fairly quickly. My level of Spanish is Dora the Explorer although my limited understanding is better than my spoken. My understanding of food is pretty good. I was so busy before this trip that I did no advance preparation. I’m very lucky I’m travelling in a pack that has a decent grasp of what’s happening around me and can translate for me, otherwise I’d completely be lost here in Oaxaca.
One of the things that was set up for me in advance was a “lesson” in Oaxaquan cooking from Reyna, the housekeeper at the place we’re staying at. On the menu was enchiladas de pollo. Although enchiladas wouldn’t be my first choice, I didn’t have much of a choice but to go along.
Reyna sent her husband to the market to pick up chicken and the rest of the ingredients we needed for the enchiladas.
At this point I started to wonder about these enchiladas. There didn’t seem to be any cheese, there were no tortillas, there were just no makings of what I thought were in enchiladas. But then again, I thought, maybe Oaxaquan enchiladas were different from the Tex-Mex ones I know. I found out we needed to get tortillas, so I asked if I could tag along to the store to get them.
On the walk there, I found out that we were not making enchiladas de pollo, but in fact we were making pollo enchillado (chicken cooked in red chile sauce). No wrapping and rolling, nothing covered with cheese and then baked. Imagine my surprise to realize that I had been in the kitchen for over an hour with a picture in my mind of what the end result would be, only to have bubble burst. No worries though, as I was soon distracted by the wonders of the corner tortilla woman.
When we got back the food was ready, which was great because I was starving by that point.