"It is a big party with live music," said Gustavo Perez, 37, chef of the Southfield Store and a native Oaxacan.
"There are street food stands where you can enjoy empanadas, griddled corn masa dough stuffed with molés or mushrooms and cheese; tacos; pozole, hominy broth; churros, doughnuts; and buñuelos, crisp deep-fried dough topped with anise syrup.
It is a night to enjoy!"
"In Oaxaca," Perez
said, "De-cember is a month in which the opportunities to celebrate abound.
Christmas season is a big festival of religion, tradition and gastronomy.
It is a big thing, holidays with food."
brought a taste of Oaxaca (pronouced wah HAH ka) to Pittsfield on a cold, gray afternoon a few days ago by preparing pavo Navideño, Mexican stuffed Christmas turkey, with three salsas for his Peruvian wife, Bettina Castillo, and a couple of friends, one Colombian, one American.
Mexican glasses held warm ponche de frutas (fruit punch) Perez
had made using raw cane sugar and cinnamon sticks, shreds of prune, large chunks of guava, apples, pears, and fingers of sugar cane, all finished with Mexican brandy.
Gesturing with his
hands or his
recalled the Christmas season with delight.
"For me, over there, when I was a child, it was waiting for Christmas because the whole family was together."
has two brothers and a sister, all still living in Oaxaca, as are his
mother and his
has both happy and sad memories of dia de reges.
The next year, when Perez
was 6 and Oscar was 7, Santa wrote telling them he
would bring presents if they would leave some spicy food for him.
The boys got their mother to make the food, but Santa did not keep his
side of the bargain.
It turned out that his
18-year-old uncle had written the letter, eaten the food and played a trick on them.
Came to an end
Large Christmas celebrations ended in the Perez family when Gustavo
postmaster father died on Dec. 23, 1985.
went to work at the post office full time, while going to school from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m. weekdays.
Now, Gustavo Perez
celebrates Christmas quietly with his
wife after he
finishes serving Christmas dinner at The Old Inn on the Green.
It is ironic that, despite close family and warm traditions in Oaxaca, he
says this life in the Berkshires is better and more satisfying for the grownup he