Oaxaca Trip February 3-11, 2018: It’s A Go- ¡váaaamonos! by Carmen Barnard

At last, we are posting our Oaxaca trip!

Much is written about Oaxaca now.  Some still sounds like escapism tourist flyers from the 50’s, rather offensive to my Mexican ears. I wouldn’t dream nor care to compete with those unless farcically, of course!

Suffice it to say that Oaxaca State is indeed located in southern Mexico, with a Pacific coastline (boasting peanut plants- peanuts are native to Mexico!), a beautiful Southern Sierra Madre range, grand fertile valleys, subtropical highlands and an isthmus, no less.

With a large population of culturally and linguistically diverse original people, plus the variations on Spanish, African and other mixes, Oaxaca is probably one of the easiest parts of Mexico to “see” and get a sense of our how culturally diverse our country truly is.

Attention to detail in a very distinctive manner is a truly oaxaqueño trait, no matter the cultural background. Complex detail is part of the Oaxacan people’s arts; whether culinary, handicraft or plastic (“fine”): the countless textiles, pottery and handicrafts with beautiful detailing, the wondrous and prolific graphic arts school and painting too, the music, and of course, our focus, the cuisine. The market stalls, local herbs, complex combinations, finely ground ingredients, sophisticated methods, delightful breads and nationally famous cheese make Oaxaca a food lover’s dream come true. (Digressing to those aforementioned coastal grown peanuts, wait until you taste the ones served as a snack, roasted with chile de árbol and tiny local garlic cloves!)

Between Chef Ricardo Muñoz’s expertise and knowledge, Ana Elena Martinez’s culinary and travel know-how, our friendship of years with local cooks, artisans and guides, and my bi-cultural perspective to help bridge gaps and queries, your trip to Oaxaca will be intimate, guest-like, non-intrusive, delicious, addictive and truly memorable.

We all look forward to seeing you in Oaxaca.

¡Hasta pronto!                                       [musical link: https://youtu.be/lOugXvfi2yw]


We stay in a local hotel in the heart of the colonial city of Oaxaca. The zócalo, or main square, is lovely for people watching or enjoying coffee at a sidewalk cafe. The grid layout makes it easy to explore the city and shop during your free time. The nearby market is beautiful, filled with local produce, food, and kitchen utensil stalls. There are endless amounts of cultural things from traditional to contemporary to see, hear and enjoy in Oaxaca, and of course, to taste!

We have limited space on our culinary trips, so if interested in participating, let us know as soon as possible. Celebrating our 30 years of pioneering culinary travel in Mexico, our Oaxaca Trip 2018 is $3750 and includes classes and demos, hotel, two meals a day and all fees associated with the trip, excluding airfare.

office@culinaryadventuresinc.com                                                                                             760-577-2810

Oaxaca Trip February 3-11, 2018: A visual prelude… Thank you to our friend, photographer Ignacio Urquiza, for his beautiful eye. (Trip info posting very, very soon…)

Woman mixing the indigenous tejate drink made with cacao. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
armadillos oaxaca
Woman selling armadillos in market in Oaxaca. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Woman with comal
Woman carring a comal atop her head. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Reyna Mendoza using the local string cheese called quesillo. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Indigenous woman carrying an iguana to the local market. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Abigail Mendoza
Zapotec Abilgail Mendoza making masa on her metate, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Tortillas or blandas from Oaxaca. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Clayudas, giant crispy tortillas from Oaxaca. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza

“Should I? Can I? Why Didn’t I?” A last call… Chefs’ Trip to Mexico City, January-deep winter- 2018 By Carmen Barnard (Marilyn doesn’t know I wrote this…yet!)

Deep into winter, brooding and shivering, these questions could echo in your mind as you lament not having reached out to see if there was maybe, perhaps, one spot left for you on that Chefs’ trip to Mexico City.

As you ponder the depths of your despair, you envision chefs intently observing a class, ricardo-muncc83ozver17-carmenbarnardb.jpegin a beautiful room filled with mind-boggling aromas and scents; market scenes try to form in your head; sounds of laughter and joy as you lift yet another copita de mezcal…(¿qué es mezcal? Why do I now speak Spanish? Why in italics? eh?) You recall Carmen’s much touted,  “kitchen dynamics” and “banter,” between chef and staff–what banter? Why? How do Mexican chefs banter, for Pete’s sake?  Who is Pete, anyway? Pedro? What does Carmen know about chefs or banter? Who is Pedro? Was he at the mezcalería or the cooking demo? at Azul?

All these troubling thoughts and longings could be avoided if you get a hold of Carmen today and see if there is still, perhaps, one spot remaining, just for you. office@culinaryadventuresinc.com

Life is short, Mexico is eternal. Our trip- now almost full.  Mexico City average January daytime highs: 71˚F.  You deserve to learn from the best chefs of Mexico, while you take a break. In a temperate climate.

¡Hasta pronto!


Update on Chefs’ Trip January 2018 by Carmen Barnard

Our trip is filling fast and yes, moving forward!

For  people who live in areas prone to natural disasters tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, wild fires, volcanoes, tsunamis we know life moves forward no matter. With characteristic passion and vigor, all of Mexico affected by recent temblors works together to go forward and we do the same.  Our heart and aid go out to all, in every nation and region.  Likewise to the families of victims in Las Vegas; gun law reform NOW is all I will say here.

While set back a little with the earthquakes, thankfully all of our respective loved ones, friends and colleagues are okay, and I am even more intent on creating new culinary trips with Ricardo and Ana Elena to our unique, beautiful country.

I am still working to pin down Oaxaca dates, but it will happen! And I will announce just as soon as they are set.

Here is a link to a beautiful song about Mexico City https://youtu.be/ky3ZqOHkRHU (thank you to Ana Luz Mac Gregor, you-tuber, for posting this with a good vista of Mexico City to whet your appetites) by the incredible José Alfonso Ontiveros Carrillo, better know as Guadalupe Trigo (from Mérida, Yucatán, a musically rich región along with culinary–but that’s a future trip and I could wax poetic endlessly, just wait until we go there, you’ll see!) and lyricist Eduardo Salamonovitz Weinstock (Eduardo Salas) (from Mexico’s Jewish community no less). It will run through your head when we are going about our trip as it truly is a lovely tribute to that city. Come on the trip and I’ll translate the lyrics for you!

You may notice hyper links hither and thither throughout my postings. Some are about our chefs and cooks but I love music too. And Mexico is also extremely rich musically, region by region. Therefore, I will continue to add said hyperlinks (bless technology) as acoustic illustrations of what you’ve been missing and to hopefully keep an ear open to when travelling with us.

If you’ve been contemplating the Chefs’ Trip, I shall now delicately state you had better get a move on it as we are almost at our limit!

Relish your loved ones, work and daily life.

Hasta pronto,


Photos from Veracruz 2017, musings by Carmen Barnard

Putting together a photo sampling of the Veracruz Trip,  January 2017, causes me to muse on how sad we were with the thought of Marilyn closing down Culinary Adventures, while in the midst of this wondrous trip.

Creating a link, years ago, for others to experience the cultures of Mexico through our foods and people is a truly impressive attainment.  Culinary Adventures is a pioneer in this.  Ricardo, Ana Elena and I are so proud and happy to continue forward, and it is a tribute to Marilyn’s character to have found a way to continue this legacy through us, her original right arms!

I began to write up a timeline of our people from start to present but, the list is way too long and I refuse to leave out any of our respected cooks, chefs, restauranteurs, market stall owners, taco stand vendors, tamal  makers… you get the idea, ¿no?

Suffice it to say that I  find these to be prescient times to continue with cross cultural exchanges. Mutual appreciation and understanding create a positive world.  And what better way than through food?

We look forward to seeing our highly appreciated ‘old’ friends and meeting news ones as we share our vision of Mexico with you.

¡Hasta pronto!




“Chefs’ Trip January, 2018–Celebrating Culinary Adventures Return!” by Carmen Barnard

We are starting off with a brand new Chefs’ Trip to Mexico City and all its splendor this coming January 22 to 28, 2018.

This trip is for food professionals ready to take on as much information as possible during a week filled with classes, demonstrations, and discussions with Ricardo Muñoz and a wide gamma of chefs with stupendous talent like Martha Ortiz, Juan Cabrera, Josefina Santacruz, Israel Gutiérrez, Pilar Alonso, Gerardo Vázquez Lugo, Diego Niño, Jorge Vallejo, and Jair Téllez.

Chef Ricardo Munoz
Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

Ricardo Muñoz Zurita is chef/owner of the Azul restaurants in Mexico City. As pioneer chef of Mexican cuisine and ardent researcher of Mexican foods and ingredients, he has written many Mexican cookbooksLos Chiles Rellenos en México, (UNAM 1996), Verde en la Cocina Mexicana [Green in Mexican Cuisine], (HERDEZ 1999), Los Chiles Nativos de México [Native Chiles of Mexico](DGE/EQUILIBRISTA 2015), to name a few. His Diccionario Enciclopédico de Gastronomía Mexicana [Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy] (Larousse, 2012), is awaiting final editing from the University of Texas Press for its English version. Along with the national respect garnered, I now note the younger generation of Mexican chefs and cooks reverence of Ricardo, and in August, 2016, the “Chevalier de l’Ordre Mondial de L’Académie Culinaire de France” was awarded to him.

Our lodging will be in La Condesa area, a ‘happening’ neighborhood right near our cooking classes, and close to one of Marilyn’s favorite markets, the Mercado Medellín. We will also try traditional spots of all sorts in the city and environs.

We have limited space on our Chefs’ culinary trips, so if interested in participating, let us know as soon as possible. As a thank you to our chefs who have been with us all these years and to welcome new chefs joining us, your trip costs $3750 and includes 7 classes, hotel, two meals a day and all fees associated with the trip, excluding airfare.

¡Hasta pronto!

Carmen Barnard



Culinary Adventures Again! A Background Tale by Carmen Barnard

Many of you may know me, or of me, from days of yore; the majority, not. For those who do, please skip this self referent prattle.

I believe a background story is pertinent to this lovely revival and renewal of Culinary Adventures, Inc.

Marilyn came to me in my hometown of Morelia, Michoacán, when we were both younger and carefree (I am now actually Marilyn’s age when she started up these trips). Cashing in on a family debt-moral, of course! (an interesting tale left to tell on one of our trips) she roped me in to help her set up culinary trips to Mexico. I was duly horrified, being chronically shy and carrying the burden of looking perpetually like a tourist in my land.  In her characteristic fashion, Marilyn took me under her wing and cajoled me into help start what has proven to be a pioneering business in Mexico, and thoroughly character building for yours truly, (as she so often would insist with me when I was balking at my duties, ignoring my pleas that I had too much character and needed less, if anything) and, I must say-being the eldest of our trio, for both Ricardo and Ana Elena.

In December 1997, a Northeastern Mexican man crossed my path (take note of him, for he will be mentioned now again on many a future trip, as I rant about his region’s names for ingredients as opposed to mine, wonderful Palestinian-Lebanese food from his family, multi-cultural Mexico– you’ll see) and I left Marilyn in the lurch (she so nicely put it, “to raise a family”), forcing Ricardo to add my role to his and bring our beloved Ana Elena into the fold.

I, madly in love with the handsome northerner, could have cared less: but I did care, for I really missed traveling throughout Mexico with Marilyn and Ricardo and investigating new trips and converting foreigners into Mexico-philes (my secret goal, I don’t think it’s in Culinary Adventures ethos.. or is it? I shall check), along with the fact that said regional travels gave me endless material for my off season work, fine arts. Moving, blinded by love, to the US, created in me an even deeper longing and perpetual homesickness for my country of birth and choice.

Marilyn and Fred invited me to join them in Veracruz this past January, as a farewell to Culinary Adventures. I was very happy to soon be reunited with the people and places I dream of daily, but at the same time extremely sad for all those 30 years of work coming to an end. When Marilyn unexpectedly announced in March that she and Fred had decided to turn the reins over to me, I burst into song. I then stayed up all night musing and reviewing my relationship with lifelong family friends, the Tausends and México.

Today, in late July, here we are, plotting and planning and reinvigorated with the thought of creating new addicts to Mexico, sharing our culture and people with friends old and new. Marilyn is “up” in Gig Harbor, Washington, keeping a long distance eye on me “down”  here in Encinitas, California, giving instruction and discussing ideas and plans. Ricardo and Ana Elena are blessed to be in Mexico; we are all brainstorming, and working together cross border as a team to begin this new era of the unique company, Culinary Adventures, Inc!

Very soon to post will be our Mexico City Chefs’ Trip January 22-28, 2018 and then our Oaxaca Trip for Aficionados (late winter) 2018.

¡Hasta pronto!

Carmen Barnard Baca