Mexico is one of the most fascinating destinations for our culinary vacations. The cuisine is incredible mix of fresh, indigenous ingredients and methods going back thousands of years, and new ingredients and methods brought from Europe, Africa, and Asia during Mexico’s centuries of colonization. Add to that the culinary identity that has been informed by the two hundred and some years since Mexico gained independence, and you have one of the richest gastronomic traditions in the world.
Magical Mexico City
Mexico City is one of the oldest and largest cities in the Americas, a sprawling mix of different neighborhoods which were once cities themselves.
Mexico City is built on the ruins of the ancient Aztec city Tenochtitlan. As an Aztec city it was located on an island in the shallow Lake Texcoco, the largest of five interconnected lakes, and its topography included bridges, canals, and causeways to facilitate movement and defenses. The Spaniards conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521, and the infamous siege and massacre that resulted in the city’s fall are considered the decisive moments in the fall of the Aztec Empire.
The Spaniards never learned to live with the water and the frequent flooding, however. They therefore began the process of draining Lake Texcoco in the early Seventeenth Century. The result is that today Mexico City lies mostly in the former lake bed, and is subject not only to flooding but also to drought. The ecological impact of draining the Lake also has resulted in uneven sinking of the land beneath the city (much like you read about in Venice).
At the heart of Mexico City is the Zócalo, officially titled Plaza de la Constitución, the public plaza or square in which ceremonies, festivals, celebrations, and protests have happened for hundreds of years.
Mexico City Neighborhoods
Mexico City has many famous boroughs which you can explore on our culinary vacations in Mexico. One of these is Coyoacán, the colonial quarter where in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries you would find the haciendas of Mexico City’s elite, and where today you will find the former home of Frida Kahlo, now home to the museum in her honor.
Another is Xochimilco, which was for most of its history an independent city located on the shores of Lake Xochimilco. It is known for its canals and floating gardens, which can still be explored on the traditional wooden boats known as trajineras. Xochimilco’s surviving canals are one of the only remaining signs of the vast lake and waterway system that existed before the arrival of the Spaniards.
You can explore Mexico City and its amazing food and culture on our 4-night Magical Mexico City culinary tour.
And that’s not all! We’ve also added a new 6-night culinary vacation in Mexico, Taste of Puebla and Oaxaca.
Puebla: Colonial Masterpiece
Puebla, the capital city of the state of the same name, is considered one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico. It was a planned city constructed in colonial times as a stopping point between Mexico City and Veracruz, the main Atlantic port. This gives it its architectural distinctiveness, which incorporate Renaissance and Mexican Baroque aesthetics. This distinctiveness has led to it being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It was built between two native settlements, Tlaxcala and Cholula.
Puebla has given Mexican gastronomy two of its most famous dishes: mole poblano (literally the “mole from Puebla”) and chiles en nogada. It has also, curiously enough, given the U.S. its most famous Mexican holiday: Cinco de Mayo. The date commemorates not Mexican Independence Day (which is celebrated September 16th), but rather the defeat of the invading French army at Puebla in 1862.
Oaxaca: King of Moles
Oaxaca is also both the name of a state and a city, and you will explore them both on our culinary vacations in Mexico. The city of Oaxaca, also called Oaxaca de Juárez, is known as a gastronomic capital. Tourism is an important part of the economy, with visitors coming to explore the beautiful colonial architecture, the archeological sites (including the famous Monte Alban), the indigenous cultures, and the wonderful food. Oaxaca, in fact, is known for having at least seven different types of mole sauces, including negro (black), Colorado (red), coloradito (light red), amarillo (yellow), verde (green), chichilo, and manchamanteles. Oaxaca is also known for its chocolate and street foods, including fried grasshoppers!
The state of Oaxaca is generally known for its indigenous cultures, namely the Zapotecs, Mixtecs, Mazatecos, Mixe, Chatinos, and others. The continued presence of these indigenous cultures make Oaxaca one of the most diverse states in Mexico, and is sometimes attributed to the rugged terrain that isolates the communities into independent groups.
Our Taste of Puebla and Oaxaca culinary vacations in Mexico will introduce you to both locations, their cultures, their people, and of course their food. It can be combined with our Magical Mexico City culinary tour to create a stunning, 9-night exploration of Mexico.
Archeological Sites of Central Mexico
But Mexico is not just food and colonial architecture…. among the amazing sites you will see on our newest culinary vacations in Mexico are some of the world’s premier archeological sites of Mesoamerica, including:
- Teotihuacán – Near Mexico City, this ancient ruin predates the Aztecs, and was so enormous that it was attributed to the Gods or giants. It has three large buildings, the Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, and Citadel.
- Cholula – Near Puebla, Cholula was for centuries one of the largest cities in Mesoamerica. The remains of the large Tlachihualtepetl pyramid, the “handmade mountain,” are one of the most popular sites to visit in Puebla.
- Monte Alban – As one of the most important ruins of Mesoamerica, its position on a plateau makes it also one of the most impressive. It is located near Oaxaca de Juárez, and it is absolutely not to be missed.
- Mitla – The most famous site in Oaxaca after Monte Alban, it is known for its utterly unique and intricately geometrical fretwork decoration.
Are you ready to head to Mexico City, Puebla, and Oaxaca with us on our culinary vacations in Mexico? Contact us to start planning!
By Peg Kern
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