I recently visited Oaxaca, Mexico with the chef Alex Stupak and his wife Lauren Resler, co-owners of the Empellon restaurants in New York City.
Markets are a passion for Oaxacans and Alex and Lauren would happily spend every waking minute of their visits to the region wandering through the maze of vendors selling everything from moles and roasted grasshoppers to tejate and tesajo.
The vendor that Alex made a beeline for the second we stepped into the rural market of Etla, about an hour from Oaxaca City, was the one selling lamb barbacoa, the Mexican version of barbecue.
It's traditionally either goat or lamb but today there are also version of beef, chicken, and fish that is wrapped in maguey leaves and buried underground to slowly roast in its own juices.
The succulent meat is then wrapped in a hot tortilla and garnished with chopped onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lime. A bowl of consomme comprised of the animal's organs is usually served alongside.
From the very first bite I understood why this is one of the dishes that keeps Alex and Lauren coming back to Oaxaca again and again.