Postcards from Oaxaca, Mexico: Restaurant Alphabet Vol. II from Le to Tacos

Above: Guava mole with shrimp and battered cauliflower at Levadura de Olla

ThalĂ­a Barrios Garcia is young, 27 years old, yet she has worked her way from a small Oaxacan village to own two widely acclaimed restaurants in the historic center of the state capital. One, Cocina de Humo, is intimate, providing a chance to observe traditional methods of cooking, but you need to make a reservation in advance. So we tried her Levadura de Olla instead.

Tomatoes. The gorgeous display of heirloom tomatoes immediately announces produce is important here. And a woman kept busy flipping fresh tortillas you know are made the ancient way, from dried corn boiled down with ash, nixtamal.

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Postcard from Mexico City: Yes, they’ve got it for sale

Opportunities to buy things large and small present themselves almost every few steps you take in Mexico City.

The city is famed for its street food and inventive ways to sell it, such as the motorized empanaderia. We stumbled across one food truck that sported a second story with stools and a counter for rooftop dining (sorry, no photo). It’s amazing how one can start with a healthy mango and add layers of psychedelic toppings to completely disguise the fruit at its base. Vibrant colored chips and doodles fail to convince they are high in beneficial beta carotene.

Never tempted to hire a clever all-weather pedicab, but did keep envisioning mounting the trio of horses in Chapultepec Park corralled by a vendor for photos for a fee, the perfect souvenir to share on facebook for holiday greetings. But, alas, the Mister and nuestra hija declined. Bet they are sorry now that Christmas is almost here.

Chocolates and Proyecto 125 wines were about our only purchases outside of restaurants. Kind of wondering if we should have succumbed to the numerous offerings of loteria tickets. Potential winnings look so impressive when promoted in pesos.