One of the things you learn pretty quick if you get off the beaten path here in Oaxaca is that we eat a lot of bugs. Few things evoke the gastronomic emotions of visitors to this great state like a plate full of bugs in front you at the dinner table and a smiling host literally begging you to try one.
Here’s a quick take on a few regulars you can find with just a little work.
Chapulines… They are available everywhere in Oaxaca and for some, a staple of the daily diet. In the market, you’ll find thousands, okay, millions of them piled high. Try a sample from each pile you see before buying as each one is seasoned differently. Also, for my taste, skip the small samples of legs… go for the whole enchilada, or in this case, chapulin.
Pochocuil… This is something regional. And by that I mean think Sierra Mazateca. For the newbie not used to a little backwoods travel in Oaxaca, that means Huatla de Jimenez, land of Maria Sabina and the Magic Mushrooms. My take? They are a lot like certain beef jerky’s. Definitely worth a try.
Gusano de Maguey… These little guys are responsible for that colored salt you see with mezcal. Alone, they’re okay, but ground in the salt with a little chile, they make a great flavorful addition to fresh fruit & vegetables. Like tajin, only better, and way hipper if you are throwing a party. One of my friends grinds about 500 of these into 3 kilos of salt for her mixture.
Chicatanas... These are okay solo, or as we might say in English, plain, but their value is really found in salsa and mole. Face it, you’re never gonna get anything like this in the states, so if you’re in Oaxaca, seek them out. You only live once, make the most of it!
All of these are part of My Mexico, that special place you only find when you leave the more tourist friendly places behind and get off the beaten track.