Oaxacan Food: A Feast of 7 Must-Experience Traditional Dishes!

oaxacan food
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Oaxacan Food: A Feast of 7 Must-Experience Traditional Dishes!

Today, we’ll embark on a culinary journey to the heart of Mexico, where the rich tapestry of flavors, vibrant colors, and centuries-old traditions come together to create an unparalleled gastronomic experience.

Welcome to Oaxaca, a region celebrated for its diverse and distinctive cuisine that stands as a testament to the cultural richness of this enchanting land.

In this blog post, I invite you to savor the essence of Oaxacan food—a feast that tantalizes the taste buds and reveals the stories woven into each delectable dish.

Oaxaca, known as the “Land of the Seven Moles,” boasts a culinary heritage that is as diverse as it is flavorful.

From the bustling markets to the quaint street-side stalls, every corner of this region offers a gastronomic adventure waiting to be savored.

We’ll explore seven must-experience traditional dishes that showcase the culinary prowess, ancestral techniques, and passion that define Oaxacan cuisine. Let’s begin!

Oaxacan Food: My Top 7

From the bold flavors of Mole to the irresistible street food, Oaxaca’s culinary offerings promise an unforgettable experience for food enthusiasts and adventurous palates alike.

1. Oaxacan Tlayudas

oaxacan food
A classic tasajo and chorizo tlayuda

The famous and beloved tlayuda is also known as “clayuda” or “Mexican pizza.”

But of course, it is a typical dish of Oaxaca, Mexico, which was declared Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, along with the 7 moles, chapulines (grasshoppers), and sopa de guías, also from the beautiful state of Oaxaca. 

It is made of a corn tortilla of approximately 30 cm accompanied by Oaxacan cheese, chopped cabbage, and a chili sauce made in molcajete, others also have black beans, chicharron, chorizo, and steak.

2. Chapulines (Grasshoppers)

oaxacan food

I’m sure you heard it before, but in Mexico, there is a great variety of insects and many of them are usually eaten.

One of the most popular and sought-after species is the chapulines.

A lot of people like to eat them because they are considered a high protein source.

Chapulines are usually prepared with garlic, lime, salt, and chili powder. They truly make a great snack!

They can also accompany different Oaxacan dishes such as tlayudas, tacos, and memelas.

A delicious delicacy that is worth trying!

3. The 7 Moles

oaxacan food
  1. Black with chicken or turkey: one of the most difficult to prepare with 34 ingredients, such as 6 types of chiles, ginger, thyme, cloves, and pepper among others.
  2. Amarillo with beef: made with onion, garlic, cumin, hoja santa, and coriander.
  3. Coloradito with pork, chicken, or beef: it has a “brick” color tone, and among its main ingredients are ancho chile, pasilla chile, tomato, garlic, almonds, and sugar.
  4. Verde with pork: made of green chile, onion, garlic, cumin, black pepper, and epazote giving it a more herbal flavor.
  5. Chichilo with beef and avocado leaves: to prepare chichilo you need certain ingredients such as pasilla chili, mulato chili, chile ancho, and ashes, avocado leaves are added at the end.
  6. Rojo with chicken: the spiciest of all, it has chocolate, guajillo chile, cinnamon, nuts, and peanuts.
  7. Stew with chicken and olives: onions, sesame seeds, olives, raisins, tomatoes, cloves, and other secret ingredients.

In general, mole is the premier food of Oaxaca.

4. Typical Oaxacan Food: Caldo de Gato (Cat Broth)

caldo de gato

No, there are no cats involved in this soup! There are two versions as to how it got this name.

One is that Hacienda workers would get this soup after helping the rich owners serve their big fiestas. Although nobody knows for sure why it was given this name.

The other version tells that a cat fell into the pot in which a broth was being prepared with vegetables, chickpeas, and chili.

However, the actual way of eating this soup is with beef backbone or chicken, chayotes, carrots, green beans, chopped onion, and cilantro.

5. Tejate

oaxacan food
Tejate vendor

Tejate is a popular beverage in Oaxaca dubbed the “drink of the Gods” created by our Mixtec and Zapotec ancestors.

It is said that its function was to pay tribute to their deities in their ceremonies, and there is a Tejate Fair in the state.

This is a classic Oaxacan food in the town of San Andres Huayapan.

Tejate is prepared by making a paste with corn flour, cocoa previously toasted on the comal, cocoa flower, and roasted mamey seeds.

Then, cold water is added to mix the ingredients and create a thick foam. Delicious and refreshing!

6. Oaxacan Tasajo

A tlayuda with a chunk of tasajo

Tasajo makes the best companion for other typical dishes of Oaxaca, such as tlayudas or chapulines.

It is a jerky-type meat that is salted and air-dried / or wood-smoked for better preservation.

In addition, this method allows the meat to dehydrate slowly, preserving all its flavor.

Tasajo is one of the most iconic dishes of the state, an essential player of Oaxacan food.

7. Chicatana Sauce

oaxacan food

Back to the insects, Chicatanas are large ants usually collected in Oaxaca.

They are primarily used to make a sauce that is one of the stars of Mexican cuisine. Salsa de Chicatana is a delicious salsa that you must try when going to Oaxaca.

Again, it is made from roasted ants and then ground in a molcajete with chiles, garlic, and onion.

This sauce is best with typical Mexican foods such as tacos, tlayudas, and tasajo.

Oaxacan Foods: Conclusion

As you can see, Oaxacan cuisine stands as a vibrant testament to the rich Mexican culinary history.

The seven traditional dishes highlighted in this exploration merely scratch the surface of the gastronomic delights awaiting those fortunate enough to indulge in the flavors of Oaxaca.

From the smoky depths of mole negro to the comforting warmth of tlayudas, each dish carries with it a story of heritage, tradition, and the artistry of Oaxacan cooks.

So, whether you’re a seasoned food enthusiast or a curious traveler, Oaxaca beckons with open arms, ready to share its culinary treasures and create lasting memories at the table.

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