Cooking in the Campo: Learn to make tamales, tortillas and salsas!

Cooking in the Campo: Learn to make tamales, tortillas and salsas!

Venture out to Yatareni with Tlayudona and Doña Juana for a taste of life in the campo.  Juana and her family dedicate themselves to cultivating a mixture of corns, beans, and squash, known locally as “la milpa”.  Their property is close enough to Oaxaca´s city center to make it an easy venture, although you´ll enjoy a whole different scene than you´ll experience in the city´s colonial streets.  On their property, there´s an abundance of air, fruit-bearing trees, a few dogs, a whole lot of chickens, and a rowdy turkey who likes to make his presence known.

It took us a whole experience in itself to taste all of the tamales and decide which we´d prepare during this experience.  Out of the various recipes that Doña Juana prepares often for her family, we narrowed down our first experience to four: the quintessential black bean tamal, the “chepil” tamal (a locally-grown herb with a distinct flavor quite typical in certain Oaxacan cuisine), the tamal de rajas, cooked with strips of just-the-right-amount-of-spice pepper and “quesillo” (Oaxacan string cheese), and an additional seasonal option.

If you´ve tasted a tortilla made from corn ground via mortar and pestle, mixed by hand, patted with love and cooked to perfection on a comal, you know that the final product is nothing like the machine-made version.

Doña Juana, who has impressed all of our guests with her delectable tamales and memorable salsas, is teaming up with Tlayudona to offer this experience to learn the art behind Oaxaca´s gastronomic pillar: the tortilla.

You´ll take a tour of their property and get to meet the animals, and then you´ll get to work preparing your tamales.  Juana has already done us the favor of heading to the mill to have the corn ground so that this experience can be nestled into a single day.  She´ll go through the preparation process with you, step-by-step, and you´ll get to practice making each of the four types of tamales, tortillas and salsas.

We´ll have some “agua de sabor” and continue on our tamal-making journey until we get to the point where they boil to perfection over an open-stove while we feast on some extra tamales that Juana has prepared specially for us.  She´ll also have some homemade sauces to bathe them in, depending on your tolerance for spice! Your handmade tamales will be ready by the time that lunch is over, so that you can bag them up and take them with you, although they are one souvenir that most likely won´t even make it home.

What’s unique about this experience is how you´ll immerse yourselves in the cradle-to-grave nature of food cultivation and preparation for Doña Juana´s family. You´ll learn about the importance of the milpa, of seed collection and the assets of local varieties of corn, beans, and squash.  You´ll get to spend a good portion of the day as part of the life of a local family whose dedication to their land feeds their four growing children and a constant flow of visiting family and friends, all of whom leave with their bellies full.

The food is so amazing that you’ll want to continue eating long after you feel full.  We could not stop licking our fingers after we finished our lunch, and even in the throes of our stuffed-contentment, we were already looking forward to the extra bag of tamales that Doña Juana packed us to take home.

What to Expect

Step One: Write to us and request this experience, telling us how many people are in your small group and what your dates of availability are.

Step Two: Once we’ve found a date that works for our hosts and for your group, we will send you a Paypal request for a deposit for your experience or an invitation to sign up using our website calendar. (Feel free to check our calendar for the experiences we currently have confirmed!) *

*Your experience will be open to additional folks to join unless your group is composed of 6+ people or you reserve a private experience at an additional cost.

You can see our refund policy here.

Step Three: We will meet you at Tlayudona, located inside the Plaza San Cristóbal in street M. Bravo 210 local C, Centro. 

Experience Includes

  • Round trip transportation leaving from/returning to Tlayudona (210 C , M. Bravo Street, Inside the Plaza San Cristobal in the heart of Oaxaca’s Centro District).
  • An in-depth exploration of the tortilla, tamales and salsas-making process
  • Walk to the local mill to grind corn
  • The opportunity to grind corn by hand and using a hand-powered grinder
  • All ingredients to prepare a delicious tortilla and salsa brunch, which Doña Juana will complement with eggs on the comal and other treats.
  • Agua de sabor and typical snacks
  • All materials necessary to follow our Covid Protocol

Logistics and Cost

Time Involvement – Approximately 4-5 hours

Transportation – Provided by Tlayudona to Yatareni

Costs and Minimums – 2,000 MXN

Minimum: 3 people

(*2 people can attend this experience by paying an additional fee of 700 MXN to cover costs)

This experience takes place in the countryside and Doña Juana and her family are opening their home to us. There are children and animals on-site, so guests who are not fond of one or the other are encouraged to reserve an alternate experience. Bathroom facilities are available, though rustic. This experience takes us to the heart of authentic country life in Oaxaca.