The variety of corns available in Oaxaca boggles the mind and the taste buds. Rick introduces us to Amado Ramirez Leyva who believes that corn, domesticated some 9,000 years ago in Mexico, is the basis of Mexican culture. From championing the protection of ancient varieties, to cooking and grinding it into masa for tortillas, Amado just might be the corn guru of Oaxaca. All manner of enticing snacks served at Itanoni, his Oaxaca restaurant, including memelas, tetelas, tostadas, and tacos, use carefully selected types of maiz criollo (native corn). Abigail Mendoza, a superb village cook from Teotitlan del Valle, transforms her handmade fresh blue and white masa into simple, yet amazing village-style tamales cooked in a traditional olla over a wood fire. Rick riffs on her yellow mole to make his own fresh empanadas on his kitchen griddle. With the skyline of Oaxaca as the back drop, chef and restaurateur Pilar Cabrera shows Rick her beautiful squash blossom tamales. Together they make sweet pumpkin tamales laced with Oaxacan chocolate that prove transcendent.
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