1491: a restaurant recommendation

While Courtney and Eva were in town for Bay to Breakers, we puttered around North Beach and, of course, into City Lights Books. Where I was delighted to discover a book called Cartographic Mexico: A History of State Fixations and Fugitive Landscapes. The clerk who rung me up was fascinated, too, and I told him that I’d been thinking a lot about cuisine, nation-building, and identity over the past couple of years. He asked if I’d read 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus. I told him it was in my bag, about a quarter read. He told me to look out for the restaurant recommendation in the middle. He said he wanted to go there just thinking about it. This morning, I hit it: Itanoní in la ciudad de Oaxaca.

“[M]asa must be cooked within a few hours of being ground, and the tortilla should be eaten soon after it is cooked. Hot is best, perhaps folded over with mushrooms or cheese in a tlacoyo. Like a glass of wine, [proprietor Amado Ramírez Leyva] said, a tortilla should carry the flavor of its native place. ‘You want to try some?'”

I did. The smells in the shop–dry-toasted maize, melting farm cheese, squash flowers sautéing in home-pressed oil–were causing my stomach to direct urgent messages to my brain.”


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