It might have been.

20170123_193941Ah that sad lament, it might have been. Do not delay in signing up- August will be upon you, the stress of summer never eased by a visit to the region where your cup of coffee on this continent began. [Unless of course you are drinking coffee from its original continent. But go along with me here please, for the sake of lyricism.] Had the dubious Cortés not landed in Veracruz, I would not exist. I would not be here to recount the joys of watching Raquel Torres, as she explains with warmth and serenity, the delights of her regional food. You would not awaken one morning, summoned to gather rainy season mushrooms in a forest in Mexico. Think about that…

Then there is another despondent thought. It is Labor Day weekend. Your nose is assaulted by the smells of hotdogs and other American delights. But you are not drinking  a form of chocolate which clarifies the Latin name of Theobroma cacao in one single sip. “Indeed- the food of the Gods, and I am partaking of it. I am deserving,” you would reflect. Chef Ricardo waxes poetics on the complex flavors of Oaxacan cuisine and life is forever altered. Your tastebuds and your soul  revived and uplifted, stamped upon your memory in a manner that would carry you forth in other days that come when life is not so easy or fun…

Encountering foods from other parts, meeting those who prepare their food with care and kindness, is perhaps one of the most pleasant things we humans can do, putting aside all prejudices and differences. What each region does with the foods it produces is a work of art, a majesty of human nature that redeems us from our destructive side.

Allow us to share the grace and beauty of our country. It will revive and uplift you; you will cast a kinder eye on your own part of the world, finding local peace and pleasure because you saw it in another place, different from yours.  Don’t regret it and find yourself thinking, “oh, it might have been!”

¡Hasta pronto!

Carmen

office@culinaryadventuresinc.com  760-577-2810

Microclimatic Trips: Xalapa, August 10-15, 2018

Summer Session August 10-15, Xalapa 2018

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Raquel Torres Cerdán, Xalapa, Veracruz

In the highlands of the coastal Gulf state of Veracruz is one of Mexico’s leading regional culinary experts, the anthropologist and cook Raquel Torres Cerdán. Owner of Taller De Cocina Tradicional Mexicana: Acuyo, Raquel’s knowledge and passion for the foods of the many different regions of Veracruz is impressive. And her food is delicious! Veracruz is where the Spanish landed and it is weighty in historical importance and feeling.

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This trip introduces you to specific, micro regional cuisine. We will drive from the Port of Veracruz up to Xalapa (where all travelers since the conquest rested on their journey from coast to Tenochtitlan- now Mexico City- and thereby influencing the food). Set in green lush mountains- and the first coffee plantations in all of the Americas-  we will have a daily class with Raquel Torres and local cooks, in her beautiful cooking workshop. it’s worth checking out her Facebook page.

parroquia.bombaThe trip ends with a splendid coastal meal in the Port of Veracruz… and, a traditional breakfast at the renown Café de la Parroquia before departing- as a teaser to return to this marvelous state, which is a desire often mentioned in both song and literature.

Another excellent opportunity to get to know Mexico, microclimate by microclimate.  We are planning more of these micro trips, as the mood hits us, and cooks and chefs allow!

Xalapa 2018  is only $1850 and includes 4 classes, hotel 5 nights (based on double occupancy), two meals a day, and all fees associated with the trip, excluding airfare. I am setting a limit at 10 participants maximum.

Reserve your spot today with a $400 deposit at: office@culinaryadventuresinc.com or 760-577-2810 Total payment is due June 12th, 2018.

Also, if you live on the West coast, or logistics allow, I am offering the option of meeting me at the fabulous Cross Border Express and we fly as a group to Veracruz from Tijuana, and would then factor in the RT airfare Tijuana-Veracruz-Tijuana to the total price.

Fee for a single supplement is $250.00 for any of our trips. Please see Policies .

Labor Day, The Way it Should Be!! Life is Short- Oaxaca September 2-10, 2018

What better way to spend Labor Day than working your way through the wonders of Oaxacan cuisine? Take advantage of that 3 day weekend: you will not regret signing up for our Oaxaca September 2018 trip!

Culinary Adventures Inc is ready to go back to one of our original places of 30 years ago, “la tierra del sol,” Oaxaca. So impacting is the Oaxacan effect, people go back again and again. And we must also. You’ll see why, once you are there…

With Mexico’s renown Chef Ricardo Muñoz and his irrepressible enthusiasm, we will bring the glories of moles, chocolate, breads, cheese, and other earthly delights into clear focus for you in the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca and it’s vast, surrounding valley. Our local Chef Pilar Cabrera and other regional chefs and cooks will share their talent, cultural pride and expertise with you. From moles to tortillas, this trip will give you a cooking knowledge of Oaxaca that can only be found in situ. Surrounded by the ingredients, terrain and most especially, the people of Oaxaca- embodied cognition will assist in bringing forth those learning experiences once back in your own kitchen ready to try and recreate your Oaxacan impressions. cropped-grasshoppers.jpg

Our trips fill fast! Oaxaca 2018 costs $3,750 and includes: 6 classes, 6 demos, 8 nights hotel (based on double occupancy), two meals a day, and all fees associated with the trip, excluding airfare. [The fee for a single supplement is $250.00 for any of our trips.]

An initial deposit of $400 is necessary to hold your place and  total payment is due July 2nd, 2018.

Any questions? Email office@culinaryadventuresinc.com or call 760-577-2810.

 

Go on. Create a new Labor Day tradition.  We mustn’t live with regrets- life is too short!

¡Hasta pronto!

Carmen

Looking Back on our Chef’s Trip to Mexico City…

“No es de donde es el ingrediente originario, sino lo que el ingrediente representa para una cultura” .      “It’s not the origin of an ingredient that’s important, but what that ingredient represents for a culture.”                 –Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita

These words by Ricardo caught my attention before leaving to our Mexico City Chef’s Trip in January.   They got me even more excited for the trip; the reunion with both Ricardo Muñoz and Ana Elena Martínez, our shared sense of purpose, the smells, sounds, colors of people, of foods, structures, skies–everything that makes your land of birth sing to you, always calling you home. These words especially got me looking forward to seeing our guests fall for Mexico and, “getting” the importance of what an ingredient can, indeed, represent for a culture.

And fall they did. Some- once again, others- for the first time, others still- through our viewpoint. A marvelous combination of food people, from different backgrounds and cultures and culinary experiences. They soaked up the subtle difference of a cooked- as opposed to an uncooked- tomatillo in a “raw” salsa, our delicious mestizo food world and it’s class differences- visible in our cuisines, a joyful miscegenation of ingredients and techniques; the depths that corn reaches back into our culture, the soul food of Tlaxcala, a warm northerner’s rock and roll edgy cooking, the happily “surreal” idiosyncrasies of our country and their influence on a chef and perception of  color, a  chef’s conscientious quest to go back- and bring forward- old styles a la slow foods….Chefs Ricardo Muñoz, Josefina Santacruz, Irad Santacruz, Cooks Nicolas Hernández and Dalia Rodríguez, Chefs Antonio de Livier, Martha Ortíz and Gerardo Vázquez Lugo outdid themselves and REALLY showcased those ingredients and what they represent to our multi cultures of Mexico. I can’t thank them enough.

We will be posting photos of the trip now and then between sending out a cry for Oaxaca, which we shall visit in September at the end of the abundant harvests of rainy season. More to come on that fabulous trip!

I had Ricardo’s words in my mind on the way to Mexico City.  But they came back to me while reflecting on Marilyn Tausend’s departure and what she means to me, her unplanned influence on so many people over 30 years, her stubbornness for Mexico, for cooking, writing, learning and, connecting people.  Her lost soul as a child, found again perhaps in Mexico, makes me  realize that it is not her origin that is important, but what she means and represents to the Mexican culture and the world she created.

Mil gracias, Marilyn, q.e.p.d.

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“Tu Ausencia” -not just another bolero, this one is for Marilyn.

A newer bolero, written by Martha Rangel and Alberto Elorza in the ’60’s begins,

“Es tanta la pena que tengo, que no puedo ni cantar…”

I feel so much sorrow, that I cannot even sing. “Tu Ausencia“- Your Absence, is the title.

That is how I feel at this moment, so I shall not attempt to write for a few of days.

But I will again, very soon, with great joy and purpose.

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Chefs’ Trip to Mexico City January, 2018 By Carmen Barnard

Our chefs’ trip to Mexico City is full and ready to go! Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita has taken out all the stops as usual- if not even more so- with this resounding come back of Culinary Adventures Inc, in an effort to do our own dear Marilyn Tausend proud. Ricardo, Ana Elena Martínez and I are very enthused and happy to see each other again, showing and sharing our country’s cultures through its cuisines along with a dream-like assemblage of avant garde chefs! I will write post trip: be on the look out for an envy inspiring informative tale about our first trip for 2018!

¡Felíz año nuevo/ Happy New Year 2018 from all of us at Culinary Adventures, Inc.!

 

Oaxaca Trip 2018 – DATE CHANGE: September 2-10, 2018! by Carmen Barnard

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Due to a situation beyond my control, I had to cancel our February Trip to Oaxaca two weeks ago. I did let everyone signed up know right away, of course. And just a while ago, I have let that same kind group of people know the new dates that Ricardo, Ana Elena, and I worked out. And now available for our public at large…

Our new dates are: September 2-10th, 2018!

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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.

 

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]

Carmen


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 Sept 2-10, 2018: A visual prelude… Thank you to our friend, photographer Ignacio Urquiza, for his beautiful eye. (Trip info posting very, very soon…)

Tejate
Woman mixing the indigenous tejate drink made with cacao. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
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Woman selling armadillos in market in Oaxaca. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Woman with comal
Woman carring a comal atop her head. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Reyna
Reyna Mendoza using the local string cheese called quesillo. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Iguana
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
Tortillas or blandas from Oaxaca. © 2012 Ignacio Urquiza
Clayuda
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!

Carmen

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,

Carmen

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!

Carmen

 

 

“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 cookbooks; Los 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

 

Culinary Adventures, Inc.: Changes in the Works!

After over 30 years of planning and leading Culinary Adventures to various locations throughout Mexico, I am turning the reins over to Carmen Barnard Baca, who was my assistant when I started doing these trips back in 1988. In the meanwhile, Carmen has been busy raising a family of her own, but now has the time to assume the leadership.

Carmen will continue working with her great friends and comrades, Ricardo Muñoz Zurita and Ana Elena Martínez, while I step up to the comfortable role of brainstorming and planning.

We have a Chefs’ trip planned for Mexico City in January 22-29th, 2018 and we are working on a special trip to Oaxaca also for late winter-early spring 2018.