Our second Airbnb experience on this trip was called “Dive into real Mexico” and the name is a perfect descriptor. It was a full day experience – just over 10 hours long.
We met our host Daniel in the morning and he drove us 2 hours away to the state where his family originates, Tlaxcala. After exploring the state capital, also called Tlaxcala, we drove to Daniel’s hometown, Texoloc, to cook in his grandfather’s traditional kitchen (seriously, it was over 100 years old!).
That sounds short and sweet, but this trip was a long day, jam packed with food, activities, and knowledge. Obviously, we loved it.
We haven’t blogged much about it yet, but throughout our trip we learned a lot about Mexico’s history and culture, particular the pre-European cultures and traditions throughout the region. Our adventure with Daniel, our last full day in Mexico, was the perfect way to wrap this up, as Tlaxcala and the Tlaxcalan people have a very rich history. You can read more about it here, but the summary from Daniel is essentially this: Tlaxcala has existed for thousands of years, and they were proudly distinct from the Mexica people who were otherwise dominating much of the surrounding area (and who also founded Mexico City’s precursor, Tenochtitlan). When the Spanish colonizers arrived they formed strategic alliances with non-Mexica groups, the first of which was their alliance with Tlaxcala. Tlaxcala people traveled to Madrid to sign this agreement, and they eventually travelled with Spanish colonizers to the Philippines. Even today some traditional Tlaxcala words are spoken in the Philippines, and Tlaxcala descendants still live in the Philippines.
Aside from learning, we also ate A LOT. We started our day in a Mexico City market, eating tamales for breakfast. Then we drove to Tlaxcala where we ate our way through market stalls and wandered around admiring the variety of foods and goods available.
We took a trip through an artisanal market on our way to drink pulque (a pre-hispanic drink known as the nectar of the gods – more on this later). Next we visited the church in Tlaxcala, which is one of the oldest Spanish churches in the Americas. We also visited the city’s bullfighting arena.
And then, after all that, it was time to make dinner!
We went to Daniel’s grandfather’s house where we met his parents and learned how to cook using traditional pre-hispanic tools and techniques. Daniel’s delightful mother lead us through the entire process of making tlacoyos from scratch – including the dough! We even made homemade tortillas!
After all that, we ate again. We then explored Daniel’s grandfather’s farm and took a quick walk through the town of Texeloc (fun fact: everyone in the world with the last name Tecpa can trace their roots back to this very town!).
We took many, many photos, all of which you can see below (with explanatory notes added in for context). If you ever have a free day to spend in Mexico, and if you love food and history, then you definitely should sign up for Daniel’s “dive into real Mexico“! It’s truly one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done while travelling.
Here’s a video of Kevin and I making tlacoyos, and below that are our photos from the day!
Starting off the day with tamales for breakfast!
And a special warm oat drink, atole!
Eating tamales like a local lol
This statue represents a wind deity important in this particular region. It’s a MASSIVE statue right between 2 highway lanes.
Driving outside of Mexico City
Arriving in Tlaxcala
tacos de canasta, a type of quesadilla that is unique to Tlaxcala. Delicious!
They’re called “tacos de canasta” or “basket tacos” because that’s how they’re carried out for selling!
Another food break. This time we’re having local homemade mole.
Not made from mole paste! This is truly homemade and maintained daily for constant freshness!
We also hade Jamaica Juice. Jamaica is the Mexican word for Hibiscus flower!
There’s Daniel, enjoying some Mole!
Here I am, ready to trek through another market!
Quick break to try a snack of blue corn. Covered in chilli powder and lime juice!
Here’s another style of tamale!
And the lovely woman selling them!
Another stop to try fruit!
And another stop to try cow head. It was one of the best things we ate all day.
The church in Tlaxcala
Entering the Tlaxcala City Hall
The city hall has an incredible set of mural that tells the story of the Tlaxcala people.
Here they are in Spain, signing an agreement with the Spanish royal government. Spain formed alliances with non-Mexica tribes in order to defeat them and take over all the area of present-day Mexico. The Tlaxcala peoples were astute and ended up travelilng to both Spain and later the Philippines. In fact, some Tlaxcala words are present in the Philippine languages!
This mural contains many of the same foods we saw and ate in the market!
Walking through an artisanal market in Tlaxcala
Stopping at a bar for some Pulque!
These are the plants from which Pulque is derived!
This is the site of one of the oldest churches in the Americas
Here is where the 4 leaders of this region were baptised once the Spanish forced them to convert to Catholicism.
This is the entrance to the oldest part of the church
This is the open pulpit from which Spanish priests preached to large crowds of commoners
A quick stop at a bull fighting arena!
Parking in the shade!
When we arrived in Daniel’s hometown of Texoloc, he took us to a Tortilleria. Most towns have them, and this is where everyone buys their tortillas!
Here’s the dried corn
After it soaks they grind it
It comes out as flour!
And it going into this tortillas assembly line machine!
Here’s Daniel’s mom, showing us how to make our own corn meal by hand
She can turn this into dough in just 4-6 strokes!
Kevin’s here giving it a try
This is the end goal
I’m making salsa!
And here’s Sierra!
Kevin took over on salsa duty
This is a bag of limestone
They put the limestone on their cooking surface instead of using oil
Here’s the cooking surface with limestone
Here’s a fresh version
fried cactus with lemon juice – delish!
Now it’s my turn to make corn meal dough. SO hard!
Our goal was to make tlacoyos – the dough with beans or cheese inside, cooked on the stovetop.
the tlacoyos are cooking!
the finished product!
Exploring Daniel’s grandfather’s farm
Kevin used to do this in Portugal with his grandparents as well, so this was a cool addition to the trip.
We also took a short walk through the town of Texeloc!
They also have a church
But clearly they put their own spin on the interior decor
And we saw an active volcano on our drive home!
Thank you Daniel!!