My Favorite Place: Alice Waters
Published: August 2009
By Dani Shapiro
The godmother of Slow Food gives T+L a taste of Oaxaca, Mexico.
I was first introduced to Oaxaca in a magical way. Twenty years ago I went there with my family
for a vacation, and we visited a house owned by artist Arnulfo Mendoza. He came from a rug-making
family, and everything in his home was handmade. Chickens roamed the courtyard. His father was an
old man who prescribed herbs for people with various ailments. It was unlike anything I had ever
experienced. I was struck then, as I continue to be, by the timeless way the Oaxacans engage in the
meaningful work of living.
Oaxaca is replete with the art of everyday life. It’s not art in a gallery. The creativity
comes across in the way people dress, in the way they live, and in the way they work. It’s in
the colors of the earthenware pots: dark greens; deep purples; intense blacks. It’s such a
rare thing to see that happening.
This is one of the richest, most biodiverse places in the Americas. You find it when you go to
the Indian market in the Teotitlán valley outside of town: squash blossoms still attached to
the squash; cheese made that morning; little herbs I’ve never seen; fresh chamomile for tea.
Everyone is grilling chicken or pork. You can go every day and see something new.”
Alice Waters’s latest book, Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea, is now in
Great Value “When I don’t rent a house, I stay at Casa Oaxaca (407
García Vigil; 52-951/514-4173; casaoaxaca.com; doubles from $179, including breakfast).
It’s not a fancy hotel, and the restaurant serves simple food and drink—and
that’s what I like about it.”
“The Benito Juárez Market (on the corner of Flores Magon and Las
Casas streets) is in the center of town. I love the hot chocolate and the little filled
“A favorite restaurant is Tortillería y Antojería
Itanoní (513 Belisario Domínguez; 52-951/513-9223; lunch for two $8), owned by
Amado Ramírez Leyva, who is part of the Slow Food movement. The menu highlights four kinds of
organic corn flour—the cooks have to stone-grind it out back—and the tortillas are made
on the grill, with cheese inside and maybe some herbs.”
“My friend Diana Kennedy, a food writer, introduced me to the Mendoza sisters, who were
starting a restaurant in the Teotitlán valley called Tlamanalli (34 Av.
Juárez; 52-951/524-4006; dinner for two $55). The guisado de pollo was so delicious—and