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Surviving In A Ski Town With Help From The Hills Of Oaxaca


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Candace Carlos



Welcome to the world of ski towns, where adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts flock year-round in search of snow-capped peaks, adrenaline-pumping slopes, and a vibrant mountain community. Living in a ski town offers an unparalleled experience, with breathtaking scenery and a unique lifestyle that caters to those seeking a balanced combination of work and play. However, with the excitement and beauty of ski town living also come its challenges.


From limited access to essential amenities and high living costs to unpredictable weather and seasonal employment, navigating life in a ski town requires adaptability, resourcefulness, and a zest for adventure.


But fear not! Amidst the challenges, there is a hidden gem that can transform your ski town experience – the flavors and ingredients from the hills of Oaxaca in Mexico.


Oaxaca, known for its rich cultural heritage, stunning landscapes, and culinary traditions, offers a world of inspiration to elevate your ski town lifestyle. In this article, we will explore the benefits of incorporating Oaxacan cuisine into your ski town living, from the abundance of fresh and vibrant ingredients to the flavors that will transport you to the heart of Mexico.


Join us on a journey to discover how Oaxaca can lend its flavors and techniques to help you thrive in the world of ski town living.


Background of Ski Towns

Ski towns have a unique charm that sets them apart from other destinations. Nestled in the heart of mountain ranges, these towns are typically located near ski resorts and offer an array of recreational activities, making them a haven for winter sports enthusiasts.


These towns are built around the idea of providing easy access to world-class slopes, ensuring that residents and visitors can easily indulge in their passion for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter activities. Ski towns often boast a vibrant and active community, where outdoor pursuits are not just hobbies but a way of life.


The infrastructure in ski towns is geared towards supporting the winter tourism industry, with an abundance of ski resorts, accommodation options, restaurants, and outdoor gear shops. Ski resorts become the heart of the community, attracting both locals and tourists alike, and serving as a social hub where skiers and snowboarders gather to swap stories and share their love for the slopes.


While ski towns are primarily known for their winter activities, they often offer an array of year-round outdoor adventures. From hiking and mountain biking in the summer to picturesque scenery and tranquil lakes, these towns are an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.


However, living in a ski town is not without its challenges. The allure of these picturesque destinations comes at a cost. Housing prices tend to be higher than in other areas, driven by the demand from both permanent residents and tourists. The remote location of ski towns can also limit access to essential amenities, such as medical services and grocery stores, requiring careful planning and adaptation to meet daily needs.


Seasonal employment is another characteristic of ski towns, with many jobs being tied to the winter tourism industry. This can result in fluctuating income and job insecurity, especially during the off-season when the majority of tourists have left.


Despite these challenges, ski town living offers a unique and rewarding experience for those who love outdoor adventures and a tight-knit community. The key to thriving in a ski town is embracing the challenges and seeking creative ways to overcome them.


Challenges of Living in a Ski Town

Living in a ski town provides a lifestyle that many dream of, but it is not without its challenges. Before diving into the benefits of Oaxacan cuisine, let’s explore some common challenges that residents of ski towns often face.


1. Limited amenities: Ski towns are typically located in remote areas, far from larger cities. As a result, residents might have limited access to essential amenities such as medical services, shopping centers, and entertainment options. Planning ahead and making the most of what is available is essential for a comfortable lifestyle.


2. High cost of living: The demand for housing in ski towns, coupled with limited availability, often drives up prices. Rent and real estate can be significantly more expensive compared to other areas. Additionally, living costs, such as groceries and utilities, might be higher due to the remote location and the need to transport goods to the town.


3. Seasonal employment: Ski towns rely heavily on the winter tourism industry, which means that many jobs are seasonal and tied to the ski season. This can lead to challenges in finding stable year-round employment and financial uncertainty during the off-season.


4. Weather challenges: While snowy winters are ideal for skiing and snowboarding, they can also present challenges. Snowstorms can disrupt daily routines and transportation, making it essential to be prepared and adaptable. Frigid temperatures can also make outdoor activities uncomfortable, so proper winter gear is a must.


5. Isolation: Living in a ski town can sometimes feel isolated, especially during the off-season when the population dwindles. Making connections within the local community and engaging in activities outside of winter sports can help combat feelings of isolation and create a sense of belonging.


Despite these challenges, living in a ski town offers a unique and fulfilling experience. The key is to embrace the challenges, find creative solutions, and take advantage of the many benefits that ski town living has to offer.


Discovering Oaxaca

Amidst the challenges of living in a ski town, there is a world of inspiration waiting to be discovered – the hills of Oaxaca in Mexico. Oaxaca is a vibrant and culturally rich region known for its diverse landscapes, indigenous heritage, and mouthwatering cuisine.


Oaxacan cuisine is renowned for its complex flavors, unique ingredients, and traditional cooking techniques that have been passed down through generations. The region offers a wide variety of ingredients, including chilies, corn, chocolate, mezcal, and a plethora of fresh produce.


Exploring Oaxaca’s markets, such as the bustling Mercado Benito Juarez, is an adventure in itself. Farmers proudly display bright piles of fruits and vegetables, while local artisans showcase handcrafted ceramics, textiles, and traditional Mexican ingredients.


One of the highlights of Oaxacan cuisine is its rich use of mole, a complex sauce made with various spices, chilies, and often chocolate. Oaxaca is famous for its seven moles, each with its own distinct flavor profile. From the smoky notes of mole negro to the vibrant and fruity mole coloradito, each variety is a testament to the region’s culinary prowess.


But Oaxacan cuisine is not just about moles. The region is also home to delicious dishes like tlayudas (crispy tortillas topped with beans, meat, and cheese), mezcal-marinated meats, and the iconic quesillo (Oaxacan cheese). The cuisine is a harmonious blend of flavors and textures, showcasing the depth and diversity of Mexican gastronomy.


Bringing Oaxacan influences into your ski town life can invigorate your palate and add a fresh twist to your culinary adventures. With Oaxaca’s vibrant flavors and unique ingredients, you can infuse your meals with a touch of Mexican flair while embracing the challenges and rewards of ski town living.


In the next section, we will explore the benefits of incorporating Oaxacan cuisine into your ski town lifestyle, from the abundance of fresh and vibrant ingredients to the creative and delicious dishes you can prepare.


Benefits of Oaxacan Ingredients

The hills of Oaxaca in Mexico are blessed with an abundant variety of ingredients that can transform your ski town culinary experience. From fresh and vibrant produce to unique spices and traditional cooking techniques, incorporating Oaxacan ingredients into your dishes brings a host of benefits.


1. Freshness and Quality: Oaxaca is known for its local markets, where you can find a wide array of fresh and high-quality ingredients. From colorful fruits and vegetables to indigenous herbs and spices, these ingredients are sourced locally, ensuring that your meals are bursting with flavor and nutritional value.


2. Vibrant Flavors: Oaxaca is home to an extensive range of chilies, each with its own distinct flavor profile and level of spiciness. Whether you prefer mild heat or seek a fiery kick, these chilies, such as pasilla, guajillo, and chipotle, can add depth and complexity to your dishes. Oaxacan ingredients like cacao, vanilla, and herbs like epazote and hoja santa also contribute to the unique and vibrant flavors found in the region’s cuisine.


3. Unique Ingredients: Oaxaca offers ingredients that might be harder to find in other areas. For instance, Oaxacan cheese, known as quesillo, is a stringy, savory cheese that adds a delicious touch to dishes like tlayudas and quesadillas. Another unique ingredient is chapulines, roasted grasshoppers that are commonly used in Oaxacan cuisine, adding a crunchy texture and a hint of smoky flavor.


4. Nutritional Value: Oaxacan cuisine emphasizes the use of fresh and natural ingredients, making it a healthy choice for ski town living. The abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats allows you to create balanced and nourishing meals that support your active lifestyle.


5. Cultural Connection: Incorporating Oaxacan ingredients into your culinary repertoire allows you to connect with the rich cultural heritage of the region. It’s an opportunity to explore new flavors, learn about traditional cooking techniques, and embrace the diversity of Mexican gastronomy.


By using Oaxacan ingredients in your ski town kitchen, you can elevate your dishes and infuse them with the vibrant and authentic flavors of Mexico. Whether you’re preparing a hearty stew, a satisfying salad, or a flavorful sauce, Oaxacan ingredients will take your meals to the next level and make your ski town living experience even more memorable.


Incorporating Oaxacan Cuisine in Ski Town Living

Living in a ski town doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a diverse and exciting culinary experience. By incorporating Oaxacan cuisine into your ski town living, you can infuse your meals with unique flavors and create a culinary adventure right in your own kitchen.


1. Experiment with Oaxacan Ingredients: Visit local markets or specialty stores to source Oaxacan ingredients like different varieties of chilies, cacao, mezcal, and Oaxacan cheese. The availability of these ingredients may vary depending on your location, but with a little creativity and resourcefulness, you can find suitable substitutes or even grow your own herbs and chilies.


2. Try Traditional Oaxacan Recipes: Explore traditional Oaxacan recipes and adapt them to suit your ski town lifestyle. From classic dishes like chiles rellenos and mole to regional specialties like tlayudas and enfrijoladas, there are countless recipes to discover. Experiment with different combinations of flavors and ingredients to create dishes that cater to your preferences and the ingredients available to you.


3. Add Freshness to Your Meals: Oaxacan cuisine emphasizes the use of fresh, seasonal produce. Incorporate a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs into your dishes to add vibrancy, flavor, and nutritional value. Consider growing your own herbs or joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) to access fresh and locally sourced ingredients.


4. Host Oaxacan-inspired Gatherings: Organize themed dinners or potluck gatherings where you and your ski town community can showcase and share Oaxacan-inspired dishes. This allows you to connect with others who share a love for international cuisine and adds a social element to your ski town living experience.


5. Learn Traditional Cooking Techniques: Take the opportunity to learn traditional Oaxacan cooking techniques, such as toasting spices, grinding masa for homemade tortillas, and making traditional salsas and moles from scratch. These techniques not only enhance the flavors of your dishes but also provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of Oaxacan culinary traditions.


By incorporating Oaxacan cuisine into your ski town living, you can expand your culinary horizons and infuse your meals with the vibrant flavors of Mexico. It’s an opportunity to bring a touch of Oaxaca’s rich culinary heritage into your ski town adventures and create memorable dining experiences that will satisfy both your taste buds and your spirit of adventure.


Recipes Inspired by Oaxacan Cuisine

Ready to embark on a culinary journey inspired by the flavors of Oaxaca? Here are a few recipes showcasing the richness and diversity of Oaxacan cuisine, adapted to suit your ski town kitchen.

  1. Tlayudas

    Tlayudas are a staple in Oaxacan street food. To make this delicious dish, toast a large tortilla until crispy. Spread a layer of refried beans on top, then add your choice of meat (such as grilled chicken or chorizo). Top it off with fresh shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, Oaxacan cheese, and a drizzle of salsa. Fold it in half and enjoy the crispy, flavor-packed goodness.

  2. Mole Amarillo

    Amarillo mole is a vibrant yellow sauce with a hint of heat and a touch of sweetness. Blend together toasted guajillo and pasilla chilies, roasted tomatoes, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, sesame seeds, and a pinch of Mexican oregano. Heat the sauce in a pan, then add cooked chicken or vegetables, allowing them to simmer in the flavorful mole. Serve with rice and warm tortillas.

  3. Enfrijoladas

    Enfrijoladas are a comforting and savory dish perfect for chilly ski town evenings. Soften corn tortillas by lightly frying them, then dip them in a sauce made from black beans, garlic, and chipotle peppers. Fill the tortillas with your choice of filling, such as shredded chicken or cheese, and roll them up. Top with more bean sauce, crumbled cheese, and a sprinkle of chopped onions and cilantro.

  4. Mezcal-Marinated Grilled Skewers

    For a taste of Oaxacan flavors on your grill, marinate chunks of meat (such as chicken, pork, or shrimp) in a mixture of mezcal, lime juice, garlic, Mexican oregano, and achiote paste. Thread the marinated meat onto skewers and grill until juicy and charred. Serve with a side of grilled vegetables and a squeeze of fresh lime for a smoky and succulent meal.

These recipes are just a glimpse into the vast array of flavors Oaxaca has to offer. Feel free to adapt them to suit your preferences and the ingredients available to you. By exploring and experimenting with Oaxacan-inspired recipes, you can infuse your ski town kitchen with the vibrant and delicious tastes of Mexico.



Living in a ski town brings a unique set of challenges and rewards, and embracing the vibrant flavors of Oaxacan cuisine can elevate your ski town living experience. The hills of Oaxaca offer a treasure trove of ingredients, traditional recipes, and culinary techniques that bring a taste of Mexico to your kitchen.


From the freshness and quality of Oaxacan ingredients to the unique flavors and nutritious value they bring, incorporating Oaxacan cuisine into your ski town meals can be a game-changer. Whether you choose to try traditional recipes like tlayudas, mole amarillo, enfrijoladas, or put a spin on grilled skewers marinated in mezcal, each dish is an opportunity to explore the rich culinary heritage of Oaxaca.


By experimenting with Oaxacan flavors and techniques, you can infuse your ski town meals with the vibrancy, uniqueness, and cultural richness of Mexican gastronomy. It’s a way to connect with the community, expand your culinary skills, and ignite your taste buds with every bite.


So, next time you find yourself in the enchanting world of ski town living, don’t forget to unlock the hidden potential of Oaxacan cuisine. Whether you’re enjoying a hearty meal with friends or seeking solace in the warmth of your kitchen after a day on the slopes, let the hills of Oaxaca transport you to a world of flavor and adventure.


Embrace the challenges, savor the rewards, and let Oaxacan cuisine be your companion in the pursuit of a fulfilling ski town lifestyle.