Guadalupe Cuatepec, Oaxaca.
If you’re looking to get off the beaten track, this is the place for you.
This town with a population of little more than one hundred people is located near Suchitepec, which is near Miltepec, which is near Huajuapan, in the far north-west corner of the state of Oaxaca. There are a few things that make this town special and worth visiting. Mainly the small lake that was formed after an earthquake caused a series of landslides blocking the river. But also the fact that they’ve decided to bet on eco and cultural tourism as a way to survive since losing over 70% of their population in the last 50 years. They stocked the lake with fish, got some rowboats, and invited people to come for the day. Later lakeside restaurants and nature trails were added. They have also converted some homes that had been left empty due to immigration into lodgings if you’d like to stay.
In 2017 as a way to try to attract tourists to the town, a gastronomic festival was created for the fall dish called Guaximole the weekend after Día de Muertos.
The key ingredient in this dish is Guaje or Huaje. Guajes are the seeds from a pod that grows on a tree by the same name. The scientific name of the tree is Leucaena leucocephala. In addition to the seeds, sometimes the flower or bud (known as “punto de guaje”) are eaten. All three are primarily ground into salsas, but the seeds can be eaten raw when green, to clean the intestinal tract for parasites, or toasted when mature and eaten like pumpkin seeds. The taste is strong, “green” reminiscent of fresh peas, but more towards bitter than sweet. The tree is so abundant in the region that it’s found in many place names such as Huajuapan and Oaxaca.
To make Guaximole the red variety is ground with dried chiles, frequently chile costeño y chile Amarillo, tomatoes, avocado leaves, and other spices. Traditionally, this would be made into a goat meat stew, but there are variations with beef or pork as well.
At the festival, several local cooks have their version of Guaximole on offer in addition to other traditional foods and fried tilapia from the lake. Along with the food stands you can also find stands from other regional producers selling mescal, woven palm products, natural honey, potted succulent plants among other things.
Other events include a fishing tournament, a cross country road race, nature hikes, an exhibition of old photographs of the town and a rowing race.