A baby and a toddler stroll into a cooking class…

On one of our last days in Oaxaca, we took the ultimate risk by bringing a baby and a toddler to a five-hour cooking class. We came equipped with toddler knives and Casa Crespo was equipped with tiny aprons and hats. We designed a menu and hit the market, then began creating tamales, tortilla soup, mole, squash blossom tacos, fresh tortillas, and chocolate ice cream. Emerson chopped and blended and poured and stirred (even when it wasn’t necessary). Our translator and the chef worked harder than they ever had in a class before since our help was slow and incomplete and interrupted often by snack and laxative breaks. Shiloh, completely stimulated by the busy kitchen, finally fell asleep on Andrew just as it was time to sit down to eat.

Emerson ate nothing but the ice cream, Shiloh missed it all, and Andrew and I ate in our characteristic rushed and grateful style. It’s hard to know what children get from various experiences, but in this case, Emerson showed us his delight, finding every opportunity to play cooking class in the days to come.

Campeche, city of colors and lights

Visiting Campeche’s old quarters is like stepping back into the past.  This might be because as a UNESCO world heritage site, the area needs to look and feel like it did back in the mid 16th century soon after the Spanish began the conquest of the Yucatan Peninsula.  The best part of UNESCO sites are that they seem beautifully authentic, even if they are anything but.  And even if they are just facades, they do transport us.  Sometimes a little imagination and some turning off of skepticism can make the world seem brighter, and in fact, in Campeche, by allowing ourselves to be transported back in time, the walls that line the streets do seem more colorful.  On top of all this, although a bit Disneyland-esque, when the clock strikes 8pm, there is an entertaining light show accompanied by playful music in the main plaza of the old quarters.  Both locals and tourists come to the square to partake.

One of the highlights in Campeche happens just before sunset while we enjoy a ceviche cooking class.  We learn to make several varieties of ceviche, and throughout, we get to taste many other dishes of the region – panuchos, salbutes, sopa de lima, and more.  The scene romantic, the food fresh, the drinks smooth, and the evening warm, we wonder the typical question leaving any cooking class: They made that seem so easy, so what are the chances we can reproduce this back home?  The answer is maybe, but taste is only one part of an experience and reproducing all in its entirety will be nearly impossible.  Thus, we make sure to cherish and love the moment while here.