When I heard we were going to taste stone soup upon our arrival in Oaxaca, my mind traveled to a well loved childhood book of the same name. I imagined making soup from nothing.
Boy, was I wrong.
This restaurant, called Caldo Piedra (or stone soup) served a fish and shrimp soup that is traditional to the Chinatecs, an indigenous group from the northeastern part of the state. The restaurant owners from the Chinatec village were required to obtain permission from their elders to serve this sacred dish “in town” under the strict conditions that it be prepared in the exact same manner in which it had been prepared for centuries in the village; only by men, and with each serving individually prepared with the sacred stones gathered from a specific river bed.
Each serving assembled in a dried gourd included water, onions, tomatoes, shrimp and fish. A burning hot riverbed stone was then dropped into the gourd and the alchemy began, sizzling the simple, delicious ingredients together. Learning about and consuming the traditional, ancient stone soup of the Chinatecs was the first of many amazing experiences I encountered in Oaxaca.