I went to Oaxaca, Mexico for two weeks. Since, I have been daydreaming of returning next winter to eat corn based snacks, wander amongst the bright coloured stone buildings and drink mezcal with strangers, (or friends –same thing in Mexico). We spent a week in Oaxaca City, two days in the mountains and a week on the coast in Puerto Escondido. It. Was. INCREDIBLE. I'm working on posts for Mexico so I won't go into too much detail. But I will tell you about the day I saw some people vomit. You may be thinking, “Wow, what a great intro for a food post!". Yes. I only aim for the best here on my blog. I could write about something else like how delicious this meal is, but that seems cheap and repetitive sometimes. Because of course I wouldn't post something on here that tastes bad, so let's all assume I'm making good food for me and you. Also, this story is much more interesting than listening to more food words like mouthfeel, paleo, or tasty. Don't even get me started on short form words or exact-same-length words like delish, yummers, or 'za. Only moms in the suburbs use these words because they heard them from a fellow suburban mom who only hangs out with her children, mom, and grandma (who is the most confused that we changed perfectly good words into slight variations that sound worse). I feel you g-ma. (The short form “g-ma" is okay because it sounds gangster and every granny is/was gangster in some way). Birthed nine children vaginally?! Gangster. Sipping on a bottle of sherry all day?! Gangster. Saying whatever the f*$k you want all the time because you're 93 and don't give a sh*t?! Gangster. No no, this story has more adventure, mystery, and self reflection than food words. It also has vomit. You are welcome gentle human. (note: All badass grandma qualities are based on real life grannies I've known. Also, I love all my suburban mom friends! I was kidding. Kind of.)
We spent a night in the small town San Jose Del Pacifico in the Oaxacan mountains. Our next destination was Puerto Escondido and we were ready for the salty ocean breezes and beachside cocktails. The only way to get from this little town to the coast is by colectivo, large vans that operate all over Mexico. They are cheap and efficient and if you're lucky, they have tvs that play movies.
The van pulled up and the driver told us it would be 200 pesos each ($14 CAD) for the four hour ride to Puerto Escondido. Within a minute of being in the van we noticed a very robust smell. Like fresh sliced garlic mixed with overripe onions. “Wow. That. Is. Pungent." I whispered. For some reason, I couldn't get used to the smell. It stung my nostrils on each breath. It became so intense that I dug out a long sleeve shirt from my bag and tied it around my nose and mouth. I imagined myself a bandito. The driver looked at me through the rearview mirror and made gestures like, “are you okay?". I gave him a thumbs up and he smiled. This long drive has over 200 turns, many of them 180°, while teetering on the brink of high cliffs. People began feeling sick and one guy asked them to pull over so he could throw up but instead they handed him a plastic bag without even slowing down. A woman started vomiting, sweat rolling down her face. People had told us this was a bad bus ride, but I assumed they were being dramatic or prone to motion sickness. I love fast bumpy rides so I figured we'd be just fine. Turns out, they were correct. I wouldn't wish the ride upon my worst enemy. Well maybe I would. But only because it's mostly harmless.
Without being there, you can't fully comprehend the amount of severe turns. So here are a few Google map images of the ride itself with drawings on top from Paint (yes, it's still around) of my feelings/thoughts along the way. (more food photos + recipe at the end)
At one point we stopped for a bathroom break and I realized who it was. An old man sitting by himself with a large bag in front of him filled with his aromatics. He wore sandals and his feet were so dirty and cracked they looked like actual stone. I immediately felt a pang of compassion and shame wash over me for being so angry. Oh god, was my white privilege showing?
His bag smelled no less after, but the sharp corners of the mountains were behind us and people weren't vomiting anymore. I told myself stories of why he would be carrying a rotting bag of vegetables so I could have more understanding for him. Here are the viable options I decided on:
- This bag of garlic and onions were his great-great grandfather's vegetables and passed down for generations. They bring good luck. But also turn your feet to stone.
- There is a vampire hunting him so he must carry the most potent garlic everywhere he goes.
- He has lost his sense of smell so he has no idea the torture he's putting everyone through.
- He has a sick sense of humour and likes to rides colectivos carrying only the stinkiest items he can find. Last time he brought jars of cow farts and released them incrementally every 10 minutes. Before that, 2 dozen freshly peeled boiled eggs. The time before that it was a pillow peed on by ten cats. He's currently working on bottling an old-age-home smell of moth balls, bad perfume and undigested medicine breath. (Patent pending).
Tapatio or Cholula? Which one is your favourite?
AVOCADO EGG SALAD TOSTADA + ESCABECHE (PICKLED VEGETABLES)
inspiration: my trip to Oaxaca + all the escabeche I ate
the feels: soft, crunchy, creamy, sour, savoury, fresh
eat with: mezcal, agua frescas, agua de jamaica, horchata, sparkling water, margarita, michelada
might like if you're into: antojitos, avocado toast, street food, other pickled things, messy foods, meals that work for breakfast, lunch or dinner, lucha libre, curried egg salad on naan
makes 6 tostadas || resting time: 2 hours (for escabeche, make in advance) prep + cook time: 20 minutes
mexican escabeche (pickled vegetables)
- 2 large radishes or 4 small, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 1.5 cups water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and kept whole
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp peppercorns
guacamole egg salad tostadas
- 6 tostadas (or tortillas to bake into tostadas)
- 2 avocados, diced
- 3 eggs
- 2 limes (1 juiced + 1 cut up for topping tostadas if desired)
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro + extra for garnish
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 - 2 green onions, finely sliced
- 1 - 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, depending on preferred thickness
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 - 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, depending on taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper Optional Toppings
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup cotija cheese (feta or goat works too)
- salsa of your choice
- hot sauce of your choice
- Escabeche – Add sliced vegetables, garlic cloves, peppercorns and coriander seeds to one large jar/container or 2 smaller jars. Add water, vinegar, salt and honey to a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Mix with a spoon to ensure honey is completely dissolved. Pour into jar(s) over vegetables. Let cool for an hour. Seal and refrigerate, you can use them in one hour but it's better to make them a day or two before. Will keep for up to three weeks in the fridge.
- Begin making hard boiled eggs.
- In a medium bowl add avocado, juice of 1 lime, cilantro, garlic, green onions, cumin, salt, pepper and olive oil. When eggs are ready, dice them up and add to avocado mixture. Mash/mix together with fork.
- If making tostadas from tortillas – Preheat oven to 450°F. Place tortillas on baking sheet and brush both sides with oil. Sprinkle a little salt over top of them. Bake for 4 – 8 minutes or until golden on edges, check oven at 4 minute mark.
- Layer avocado egg salad on to tostadas. Top with pickled vegetables, cherry tomatoes, cotija cheese, salsa, hot sauce, and extra cilantro + lime squeezes if desired.