Oaxaca's 'Food of the Gods'

Register now for one of Mexico's most delicious festivals

By: Lisa Jennings

Oaxaca’s 9th annual Food of the Gods Festival, one of Mexico’s most delicious culinary events, isn’t scheduled until October. But now is the time to register to take advantage of early-bird specials.

Register by March 15, and your clients will get 10 percent off the basic package, which starts at $648 per person (double, land-only) for an eight-day, seven-night stay that includes accommodations in your choice of four hotels, airport transfers, daily breakfast, all classes, tasting sessions, tours and dine-around events. The packages are commissionable.

This year the theme is “From Chiles to Chocolate: A Culinary Exploration of Culture,” and classes will delve into Oaxaca’s pre-Hispanic roots as well as the modern variations on the region’s cuisine.

The making of chocolate which natives called the “food of the gods” is thought to have originated in Oaxaca, where European explorers learned the tradition and spread it worldwide. Chocolate commonly serves as a base for the bold and complex mole sauces for which the region is known.

Festival attendees will learn how to make empanadas and salsa in hands-on cooking classes, and watch traditional chocolate-making demonstrations. Seminars will cover subjects such as an introduction to Oaxacan chiles or pre-Hispanic medicinal herbs.

The package includes tours of local food markets and art galleries, as well as a street food fair, mountain hiking, visits to the Mitla archeological site and Tule Tree, a Mezcal tasting and weaving demonstration.

Other tastings sessions will focus on exotic fruits and ice creams, and a restaurant dine-around program will allow guests to sample Oaxaca’s finest restaurants.

Pre- and post-festival extensions are available. Participating hotels include the five-star Camino Real and Hotel Victoria, and the four-star Hostal de La Noria and the Holiday Inn Centro Historico.

Hosted by Zapotec Tours and the Oaxaca Hotel Group, the event has been written up in several major food magazines, such as Bon Appetit and Food & Wine.

A Web brochure is available at www.food-of-the-gods-festival.com, or call 800-44-OAXACA for reservations.