Raised in California, lived in Mexico City in 1999-2000, and then on the U.S. Mexico border in Texas turned my palate into a discriminating connoisseur of authentic Mexican food. However, I am not the only person in Washington, D.C. to look down my nose primed by snobby taste buds at this town's Mexican fare. The notable exception is Oyamel Restaurant.
Hmmmm, I remember exclaiming the first time I dined at this eatery in celebrity chef José Andrés' culinary constellation. No doubt the spices and combinations I tasted in Mexico swirled in my mouth. But that's the point. Once, experiencing the sophistication of Mexican cuisine required a trip south of the border--nowhere within the city limits of the nation's capital.
Oyamel is among the first to change this. Indeed, this restaurant shines during the annual Day of the Dead Festival which runs through November 2. The fabled Día de los muertos tradition dates back to pre-Columbian times and today draws hundreds of thousands who descend upon cemeteries throughout Mexico, including the famous city of Pátzcuaro in the state of Michoacán where I first observed this tradition. Mixing indigenous and Catholic traditions and celebrated November 2nd, it's an opportunity for people to pay homage to their dearly departed. Alters are decorated with symbols that evoke a loved one's memory, personality trait, or habit, not just in Mexico but wherever Mexicans have immigrated.
Oyamel is organizing this year's Día de los muertos festival around the legendary lucha libre wrestler Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, aka El Santo. Chatting to the chef, I learned of the exhaustive research that went into tracking down Guzmán's family members. What were his favorite dishes? Finding the answers to these questions gave birth to an inspired menu that includes Huatape de hongos or sautéed mushrooms served over herbed masa and Puerco en chile morita or roasted local baby pig in a chile salsa. Other so-called delicacies include ancas de rana or frog legs in a sweet and savory mole sauce.
Hold the metaphorical phones!
Not for your humble Girl Who Can Eat.
She only consumes mainstream animal parts.
But I digress.
Enjoy these pics of some of Oyamel's Día de los Muertos Festival limited engagement dishes and drinks. I snapped the photos with my iPhone 5s (no 6 or 6 Plus for me as I just got mine after my flip phone went up in smoke at the end of June) and run through my fave app--Instagram!
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xo ~ Viviana