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Cultural and gastronomic traditions of Lent in Oaxaca

26 mayo, 2021

The Lent in Oaxaca It is one of the most special celebrations of the year; Its main characters are dishes and drinks that highlight the use of fish, shrimp, beans, nopales, chickpeas, chilacoyota and corn.

For six Fridays, the tables and facades of various regions wear colors such as purple and white, which indicates that it is time to live the traditions that have been present in this magical entity for centuries.

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oaxacan food

(Photo: Courtesy)

The aromas and flavors are mixed with the climate and beauty of the communities that each year prepare for this festivity.

In Tehuantepec, the managers or mayordomos of each chapel light incense and decorate them with avocado leaves; they dress in mourning in purple, black or brown. After the ceremony, they offer the attendees fried fish.

According to the locals, other typical special dishes of this date are mole with shrimp, black mole tamales, sweet potato, mango or zucchini.

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While in Tlacoula, in the Central Valleys, a traditional Lenten recipe is weathered fish.

The traditional cook Catalina Lucas selects roncador, turbine or smooth to make this recipe, since they are the varieties that have more meat.

He tells us that he puts it to soak for 24 hours, washes it until it loses its saltiness, slices it by selecting pieces that do not have thorns; later it boils it for a few minutes in water with epazote. He dries it, sprinkles it with flour and breads it with bread; Separately beat the egg to nougat, submerge the pieces and fry them in oil.

This fish is served in tomato sauce that is fried with onion, garlic, tomato, serrano pepper, oregano, cumin, ground yellow bread and fresh shrimp; it is flavored with saffron or pepper.

It is served with radishes, lettuce and a white bean stew. He also tells us that a drink of this season is chilacayota water, which is made with this regional vegetable, panela, cinnamon and pineapple, let it rest for 12 hours and is pulped and then prepared with water and ice.

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Flavors of the Sierra Sur

Petra valencia

Petra Valencia, traditional cook from the State of Oaxaca (Photo: Courtesy)

In the Sierra Sur, in Villa Sola de Vega they cook a chickpea stew. Gladys Calvo tells us about the process, which begins with cooking these legumes in water while preparing a sauce with tomato, garlic, onion, Creole parsley and nopalitos.

“The characteristic of this dish is that it must be prepared with little organs that are nopalitos in the shape of a cross; We add dried shrimp and accompany it with chickpea pancakes with shrimp and dry cheese and handmade corn tortillas, ”he tells us.

In the Sierra Sur they also have rescue water, “which is prepared with cooked corn, which is ground in metate and strained in a blanket until there is nothing left of the corn husk. Then natural water is added, lemon peel and it is sweetened with panela ”, according to Gladys, who belongs to the third generation of a family that seeks that the new generations know the traditions,“ what we learned from our grandmothers ”.

At the other end of the Sierra Sur, Petra Valencia, a traditional cook originally from Miahuatlán de Porfirio Díaz, explains that in her community they cook dishes such as tamales de vigil, which have orange tamala squash, which is ground with nixtamalized corn to Generate a dough and form the tamales that are filled with bean paste, avocado leaf and dried chili.

Also emblematic dishes such as tamales de coloradito with fish or chickpea or white beans, with nopales and shrimp seasoned with tomato, pepper, garlic, onion and parsley.

Petra keeps alive the traditions that she learned from a young age in the family, currently offering cooking classes for eight or ten people:

“In this way we teach the value of the products, cooking techniques and dishes and drinks that represent us on these waking dates,” he says.

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Oaxacan nopales soup

Caldillo de nopales (Photo: Courtesy)

Caldillo de nopales is a traditional Soledad Etla recipe, it also includes peas, tomatoes, eggs, garlic, onion, epazote and jalapeño peppers.

The traditional cook Noemí López selects the nopales that are grown in her home garden. It is customary, he says, to have fences in the backyard from which to stock up on ingredients.

That is why it becomes an accessible dish and very easy to find in all the homes of our municipality ”, he says with pride.

In the Matadamas community, this stew is accompanied by a cheese or salt taco prepared with comal tortillas:

“We boil the creole corn to nixtamalize it, grind it in the mill and achieve the dough with which we cook the tortillas, memelas, atoles, tamales or desserts,” he relates with a whim.

Another distinctive feature of this celebration is the Samaritan Friday, which is celebrated on the second Friday of Lent and during which various communities give horchata waters with melon and walnuts, from chilacayota or jamaica to passers-by.

The inhabitants decorate their houses, businesses and religious images with a flower called Guiechachi or with tulips or purple ribbons, some very enthusiastic people even offer popsicles or fruit ice creams.

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Do not miss the traditions … and the desserts

Naomi Lopez

Cuisine of Noemí López, traditional cook from Oaxaca. (Photo: Courtesy)

In Oaxaca, the gastronomy of Lent mixes the traditions and the unique flavor of the dishes that also include desserts such as nicuatole, cheese bread and torrejas with honey.

In Tehuantepec, the sixth Friday is celebrated in the Panteón Dolores, when dishes made with fish and chili peppers from the region are served, as well as fruit waters.

The following Sunday they prepare to close the season at the Panteón del Refugio.

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Why visit Oaxaca in Lent and Holy Week?

Data from the Office of Social Communication and Spokesperson of the Government of the State of Oaxaca indicate that the entity occupies the ninth national place in chickpea production; eighth in tuna and ninth in shrimp.

In addition, they point out, in all regions of Oaxaca, hygiene and safe table protocols are followed, so visitors can prepare to enjoy these delicacies with complete peace of mind, although, of course, with a healthy distance.

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