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I wrote this piece, about spontaneously spending el Día de los Muertos with a family in Oaxaca, several years ago; it’s based on an experience...
What: Enchiladas, which you’ll find all over Mexico, are simply tortillas pan-fried with a chile sauce and served with onion and cheese. Sometimes you’ll find them stuffed with meat or cheese; other times, they’re just tasty, spicy tortilla goodness. We’re including the latter, more traditional kind here, prepared in a very Oaxacan manner: with mole rojo, or red mole sauce, and cecina, the thin-sliced, spice-rubbed pork you’ll see on menus all over town.
Where: We dined on these enchiladas one morning at Comedor Candita (puesto 108-109) in Mercado 20 de Noviembre (20 de Noviembre at Rayón, map). Deceptively simple, it makes a perfect breakfast meal—the three stacked and rolled-up tortillas are akin to pancakes (only in a wonderfully full-bodied, slightly spicy sauce, topped with sliced onion, crumbly white cheese, and parsley), with the tasty cecina standing in for bacon perhaps, providing the requisite protein.
When: Daily, 6:30am-8pm
Order: Have a pan de yema con chocolate, then the enchiladas con mole rojo con cecina (50p)—or choose another sauce with which to coat your tortillas, whether mole negro, coloradito, or black bean sauce (which would turn your meal into enfrijoladas). For the record, tortillas rolled in mole sauce are technically enmoladas, and if they’re rolled in a tomato-based sauce, they’re entomatadas (“in mole,” in tomato”). All are variations of what we more commonly know as enchiladas (meaning “in chile sauce”).
Alternatively: You’ll see these foods on menus everywhere, but especially in markets. Try La Abuelita, also in Mercado 20 de Noviembre, or Fonda Florecita (no. 37) in Mercado de la Merced (Insurgentes betw. Murguía and Morelos, map).
Good to know: A great place to sample some of Oaxaca’s favorite grilled meats, including cecina, is in the narrow carne-filled side room of Mercado 20 de Noviembre—you’ll know it by the smoky air. There, a line of vendors sells cecina (both pork and beef), tasajo (thinly sliced grilled beef), and chorizo to accompany plates of tortillas, tlayudas, and grilled vegetables, like spring onions. Each vendor has his or her own grill for cooking it all up; you just pick out what you want, find a table, and enjoy your own personal meat fest.
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