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Where to Study Cooking in Mexico

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Mexico City

As the capital and largest city in Mexico and a melting part for immigrants from every corner of the country, Mexico City holds the entire flavor spectrum of Mexican cuisine within its city limits. Just walking down any city block in the bustling Centro Historico is a whirlwind tour of aromas from diverse regions of the country, everything from Sonoran-style soft tacos to habanero-infused Yucatec roasted pig sandwiches. Mexico City is also ground zero for the country's fine dining and creative fusion movements, making it a culinary powerhouse on more levels than one. It's definitely one of the top places in the world to study the art of cooking.

  • Fundacion Herdez: If your Spanish level is up for it, one of the best places to study cooking in Mexico City is the non-profit organization Fundacion Herdez. This gorgeous historic community center offers a wide range of low-cost courses to the general public, including gastronomy and cooking classes taught by well-known Mexico City chefs and food experts.
  • Alegria in Mexico: For something that doesn't require any Spanish knowledge at all, check out Alegria in Mexico, a culinary tour company run by Ruth Alegria, who once owned a Mexican restaurant in Princeton, NJ. Ruth takes guests on trips to local markets to learn about the various ingredient that go into some of the most popular and well-known Mexican dishes and then back to the kitchen to turn them into full meals.

You can stay in the Centro Historico while you are in Mexico City to study cooking. Historic hotels like the colonial castle Gran Hotel de Ciudad Mexico are right in walking distance to the main plaza and all the architectural and artistic sights when you feel like exploring some more of the city. The convenient location will also put you just a stone's throw from Parque Chapultepec, home of the impressive National Anthropology Museum and the Museum of Modern Art.

Oaxaca City

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Ask any Mexican where the best food in a country known for superb eats around every corner is, and there is a high chance you are going to hear them say "Oaxaca." Home of the mole, a thick, rich sauce that comes in every color of the rainbow, Oaxaca has the highest indigenous population in Mexico. Studying cooking in Oaxaca is a chance to delve deep into a real traditional Mexican culinary world without equal.

  • Season of My Heart: Join chef Susana Trilling for full-day or week-long classes, including courses specifically designed for professional chefs, at Seasons of My Heart cooking school. As a bonus, cooking courses also include in-depth lectures on the history of pre-Hispanic food and the cultivation methods of complex societies like the Toltecs and Aztecs.
  • Alma de Mi Tierra: For something more home-style, check out the cooking classes offered at Alma de Mi Tierra, where Nora Pandera shares with students the secrets of Oaxacan food that were passed down to her by her grandmother. These half-day classes take place at Nora's Casa de Mis Recuerdos B&B, meaning you can stay with the family and learn to cook while making hands-on meals for the guests.
  • Casa de Los Sabores: Another option in Oaxaca is the Casa de Los Sabores Cooking School, where you can study with chef Pilar Cabrera in her restaurant, La Olla. Classes begin at 9:30 a.m. and involve creating around five different specialty plates from scratch. Then you get to sit down around the table with the other students and enjoy your creations.

Oaxaca City offers a range of beautiful historic accommodation all around the pedestrian streets at the center of town, including the Casa de Siete Balcones (House of Seven Balconies), a 16th-century adobe house with period furnishings. No trip to Oaxaca City is complete without a trip up to Monte Alban, the ancient ruins that lie in the mountains just above the city, so make sure to put it on your itinerary.

San Miguel de Allende

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With its picture-perfect cobblestone streets and colonial churches and plazas, San Miguel has been attracting creative-minded people from all over the world for quite some time. A Unesco World Heritage Site famous for its expat art scene, San Miguel is also becoming a great place to study cooking, as you have a lively restaurant scene that has brought a level of culinary excellence to an otherwise rather small town.

  • Sazon Culinary Experience: Check into the Casa de Sierra Nevada, a marvelously restored 18th-century mansion that is now a hotel for a cooking class that puts you right into a professional kitchen. The Sazon Culinary Experience at Casa de Sierra Nevada is a complete package that includes accommodation and meals, as well as a trip to the local market to source ingredients and a class in the gourmet kitchen with the chef.

Plan on stopping by the Instituto Allende while you are in town, this gorgeous 18th century former Carmelite monastery is on of the top private art schools in the world and also runs a popular Spanish language immersion programs for foreigners. Also more than worth checking out is the Botanical Garden, which holds an extraordinary number of cactuses and succulents in its scenic grounds.

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Mar 11, 2016