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Posts Tagged ‘Feria Internacional del Mezcal’

July is the month of the Guelaguetza.  It has its origin in pre-Hispanic corn festivals — a time when maíz seeds were (and continue to be) sown in many of the villages in the valley of Oaxaca and people gathered to exchange seeds and celebrate.  The annual festival was resurrected in 1951 by the city’s leaders to encourage tourism — and it has worked.  Ancillary activities, in the form of fairs, festivals, and cultural presentations have been added over the years to attract and entertain even more domestic and international tourists.

And so, despite the continuing and contentious issues regarding education/labor forms, the show must go on!  Calendas (parades) are already occurring on the city’s streets and banners advertising Guelaguetza events are hanging from street lights on the major calles.  Below is the official Guelaguetza 2016 program of events and a selection of some of the addition activities happening this month.  (Click each poster for a larger and more readable image.)

programa de actividades guelaguetza 2016

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If you are in Oaxaca, there is no reason to be bored.  ¡Disfruta!  Enjoy!

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From top to bottom, Guelaguetza preparations are in full swing.  There is yet another attempt in the Never-ending tale of a velaria, as workers scramble hundreds of feet in the air to add the missing “wings” to the Guelaguetza Auditorium canopy.

Guelaguetza Auditorium velaria

Workmen are prepping buildings in the Historic District for fresh coats of paint.

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Construction is underway in Llano Park (aka, Paseo Juárez “El Llano”) to ready it for the XIX Feria Internacional del Mezcal 2016.

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Near the top of Macedonio Alcalá (aka, Andador Turístico), puestos (booths) have been erected for artisans, invited from throughout the state, to display and (hopefully) sell their wares.

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And, everyone is holding their breath and making offerings to the gods overseeing phase two of the García Vigil pedestrian walkway that the work will be completed before the first Guelaguetza desfile (parade of delegations) on July 23.

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And, me?  I just bought tickets to the Mole Festival degustación at the Jardín Etnobotánico on July 22!  Yummm…

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I’m back in Oaxaca — and I’m not the only one!  The city’s streets and sidewalks are more congested than usual as tourists, both national and international, have begun pouring in.  Why? you ask.  They have come for the annual Guelaguetza folkloric performances the next two Mondays on Cerro Fortin in Oaxaca city.  And, a few might even venture out to join locals at the more intimate Guelaguetzas in many of the villages that surround the city.

There will be food and drink ferias and festivals…

There will be calendas (parades), expo-ventas (artisan sales), and exhibitions…

There will be concerts, including this one by Lila Downs…

lila downs concierto guelaguetza 2014

And, SO much more!  The above posters illustrate just a fraction of the activities surrounding the Lunes del Cerro (Mondays on the hill).  For a more comprehensive, though not by any means complete, list of events, check out the calendar below.

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Sheesh, it seems like they add more things to do and see every year.  However, I’m looking forward to showing and sharing as much of it as possible with friends.

Click on each poster for a larger (more readable) image.

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Besides mushrooms, tejate, tamales, and mole, there is cheese and mezcal… and last Monday I hopped in a colectivo bound for Etla; my destination was Reyes Etla (about 20 km. from the city) for the 2nd annual Queso y Quesillo Expo Feria.  Oaxaca is known all over Mexico for its cheese and, without a doubt, the best comes from the municipalities around Etla — and Oaxaca’s department of tourism is on a mission to promote its position globally.

Ball of cheese decorated with basil leaves and red bell pepper strips.

Vendors tempted with artistic displays and tastings of, among others, queso fresco, queso crema, and quesillo.  Yummm….  It is a dark day around Casita Colibrí when there isn’t a ball of quesillo in the refrigerator.

Display of cheeses with woman vendor behind counter

FYI:  Quesillo (aka:  Oaxacan string cheese) was first made in Reyes Etla in 1884 — supposedly by mistake!  According to one legend, a young girl from Reyes Etla disobeyed her mother and allowed the cheese curds to expand into a spongy mass.  She attempted to correct her mistake by pouring boiling water over the curds, then she kneaded it and pulled it into the first strip of what is now known as quesillo.

Woman vendor wearing mask behind display of quesillo
And, now, we turn to the 15th annual Feria Internacional del Mezcal…  After years of languishing in tequila’s shadow, being considered a “poor relation” — that is, if it was considered at all — mezcal’s profile has risen dramatically in the past several years.

XV feria internacional del mezcal oaxaca 2012

In August 2010, none other than Eric Asimov wrote about, Mezcal, Tequila’s Smoky, Spicy Cousin in the New York Times.  A year later, a NYT ‘s article advised, Move Over, Tequila, It’s Mescal’s Turn to Shine.  (You say mescal, I say mezcal.)

And, sheesh, I was flipping channels the other night and stumbled on Tim and Tim in Oaxaca, being instructed on the art of making mezcal by my landlord, on an episode of the TV program ROAM!  Then there is the No Reservations “Obsession” episode, where  Anthony Bourdain explores Ron Cooper’s obsession with mezcal.

Back to the feria, where over 40 vendors displayed their wares…

Bottles of mezcal lined up in two shelves of a display

poured generous tasting shots…

3 guys behind counter offering shots of mezcal

and sold their mezcals.

.Male vendor reaching for a bottle of mezcal

In addition, there was an exhibit showing the various types of maguey, from which mezcal is made…

Variety of agave plants with labels.

and the equipment used and processes they undergo to become this smoky and complex distilled spirit.

A mezcal still

As the old Oaxaqueño saying goes, “For everything bad, drink mezcal, and for everything good, you also should.”

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