Many food fanatics would consider a trip to Mexico the ultimate vacation. But when East L.A. is your proverbial backyard, somehow airfare to an exotic locale doesn't seem necessary. Nancy Zaslavsky, author of A Cook's Tour of Mexico, could prove that very point. On May 19, she'll lead an “East L.A. Mexican Market Tour” with stops to shop and eat. Guests can sample carnitas, moles, tamales, sweets, pan dulce and breads, as well as “corn tortillas made by the old pat-pat method from just-made masa.” They may also want to check out the cookware on sale and try on some boots or tejano hats. Then it's lunch at one of Zaslavsky's favorite local restaurants. (Sign up to get the exact itinerary.)

Wondering what to do with that tub of red mole paste? Or the bag of masa? Join Zaslavsky for a “Springtime Fiesta Cooking Class” on May 26 at her Brentwood home. She says participants will learn to toast ingredients, fry sauces, create texture and add proper seasoning. The menu of foods to cook — and eat, too — includes corn tortillas, green salsa, chicken with Oaxacan mole, a “street food salad” and flan made with cacao nibs. To drink, make jamaica with hibiscus flowers and sip a smoky mezcal. The events each cost $75 per person; call (310) 440-8877 to reserve a spot.

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