Hopping good grub in Oaxaca

Go on a Mexican food odyssey in the colonial city of Oaxaca and chow down on spicy grasshoppers, chocolate and mole

Hopping good grub in Oaxaca
15 February 2012

Mexico’s culinary credits may include cheesy enchiladas, tequila and spicy tacos, but I never saw grasshoppers on the menu at my local Tex-Mex restaurant.

But the crunchy anthropods are indeed a ubiquitous delicacy on the streets of Oaxaca (pronounced Wa-hah-ca), Mexico’s laid back colonial city in the south of the Latin American country.

Walking through the bustling streets around the Mercado Juarez, just south of the Zocalo or town square, your eyes are drawn to the large sacks, piled high with the tasty treats which locals flick into their mouths and crunch on like peanuts.

The thought of nibbling on an insect makes even the most seasoned traveller squirm, but having chowed down on a plate of stir-fried scorpions in China, a bag of happy hoppers didn’t seem so terrifying.

Coated with spicy chili and tangy lime, it was easy to see why the speciality is famed throughout Mexico.

And wrapped in a tortilla, your eyes are spared the unappetizing sight of the creepy crawly being shoveled into your hungry mouth.

But Oaxaca’s reputation as a foodie heaven is not just down to its unusual snacks.

No visit to the city, surrounded by verdant Valles Centrales mountains, would be complete without sampling the famous Aztec chocolate.

Sweet and subtly spiced with cinnamon, a hot cup of cocoa is the perfect warmer when winter sets in 1500 meters above sea level.

In the sultry summer months, however, nothing cools a Mexican heat wave like an ice cold chocolate milkshake.

For the best sugary treat in town, head to the Mayordomo in the south end of Oaxaca’s Mercado 20 de Noviembre, where you can watch the experts mixing the heavenly brown nectar in vats and buy a box of the ancient aphrodisiac to take home.

But for the ultimate in Oaxaca dining, try one of the many mouth-watering varieties mole (moh-lay) sauces.

Made with nuts, chilis and spices, mole is the piece de resistance of Mexican cuisine and is found drenching chicken, turkey or pork dishes in all the colors of the rainbow.

Where as in most cuisines the sauce is simply to add flavor the meat, in Mexico, the mole is the dish.

Although it’s often called chocolate sauce, actually only a small percentage of moles contain this ingredient.

Which is probably just as well, because the Aztec delicacy here is far too decadent to waste on a sauce.

Carnivores will no doubt balk, however, at the thought of ruining a perfectly tasty slab of meat with ladles of mole, no matter how delicious.

Fear not my meaty friend, because among the flowers, hats, shoes and sandals is the Carne Asada, where rows of hawkers shrouded in billowing charcoal smoke sell barbequed meats and vegetables.

Grab a jumbo tortilla wrap, pick your pork, beef or chorizo and chow down like a gringo with hours to live.

Of course, there’s no better way to wash Mexico’s finest food down than with a silky smooth tequila or, even better, a glass of the region’s notoriously fiery spirit mescal.

And if you’re stressing about how you’ll find time to see any of Oaxaca’s sights in between breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon tea and supper, have another hot chocolate and chomp on a wriggly grasshopper.

You’ll soon realize why in Mexico you are rarely more than arms length away from a tasty morsel.

After all, when in Oaxaca…eat.

For a hostel that feels like a hotel, stay at the charming and beautiful gay-friendly Hostal Casa del Sol.

HAVE YOUR SAY

MORE TOP STORIES

No thumbnail available

NI's Health Minister sorry for saying gay couples are more likely to 'abuse' children

'I was not attacking the homosexual community, I was attacking their campaign for marriage, which is seeking an end to traditional marriage'
No thumbnail available

Test the cars and your skills to the limit at Porsche Centre Silverstone

Where better to learn to drive in all sorts of hazards than at the home of British racing in Porsche’s latest range
No thumbnail available

Tom Cruise’s son blasts ESPN decision to give Caitlyn Jenner an award for bravery

Twenty-year-old DJ, Connor Cruise, said that there are ‘many more important people that actually deserve’ the Arthur Ashe Courage award
No thumbnail available

Lesbian in Florida wins $10 million lottery prize, celebrates with wife

Tara Tuttle: 'I had a feeling that it was a lucky ticket'
No thumbnail available

Third gender finally recognized in Nepal

LGBT community welcomed a decision by the Nepalese government to recognize third gender as 'other'
No thumbnail available

'Refrocked' United Methodist Church minister faces appeal over gay marriage

Oral arguments for the case will be heard at the end of October
Rallies for victims of Jerusalem stabbing held in major Israeli cities

Rallies for victims of Jerusalem stabbing held in major Israeli cities

The rallies will take place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to protest hate crimes against LBGTI people
No thumbnail available

Ellen Page comes out as a lesbian

Canadian actress makes powerful coming out speech at LGBTI youth conference in the US: ‘I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission’
No thumbnail available

Westboro Baptist Church plan to picket funeral of ‘fag enabler’ Maya Angelou

Labelling the late poet a ‘fag pimp’, anti-gay group Westboro tweet appealing for information about Angelou’s funeral so they can plan a picket
No thumbnail available

Scotland unveils draft gay marriage bill

Scotland makes history by becoming the first part of the United Kingdom to publish legislation to allow same-sex marriage