In the southern highlands of Mexico lies the vibrant state of Oaxaca, home to some of the country’s best-preserved regional cooking. The Oaxacan kitchen owes much to its Zapotec Indian roots. Even today, many dishes reflect the merging of indigenous ingredients and methods with colonial Spanish ideas.  In the capital city—Oaxaca—the sprawling Abastos market could keep a visitor busy for days.  There, you will find the native Zapotec women selling their handmade rugs and woven baskets alongside food stalls packed to the rafters with dried beans, fresh pork and all the other essentials of Oaxacan cuisine

Chef and Mexican food authority Rick Bayless knows the market’s highlights—where to find the best clay cookware, how to use the produce merchants’ wild greens, and how to choose the proper chilies for each mole. Oaxaca, after all, is the Land of the Seven Moles, so named for the various types that Oaxaca claims its own, from the red mole colored with ancho chilies, to the green mole tinted with pumpkinseed, to the inky-dark mole negro, or black mole, with its exotic flavor base of toasted chilies, seeds and nuts.

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