GASTRONOMY OF OAXACA
Typical Food of OAXACA
The Oaxacan gastronomy takes you on an amazing journey into one of the most outstanding and colorful cuisines in the world. Oaxacan food is among the most varied and delicious in Mexico, UNESCO has declared it Humanity’s Cultural Patrimony. Oaxaca’s gastronomy incorporates elements of pre-Hispanic cuisine, and lively imagination has created combinations that amaze by the color, the aromas and the flavors.
The list of dishes that characterize this cuisine is endless, however, we can mention: Oaxacan Mole in its 7 varieties depending on the type of chili used, Chapulines, (dry roasted, spiced grasshoppers), tlayudas (large tortilla spread with the remaining of the lard and beans), maguey worm sauce, chiles rellenos (stuffed chilies), and of course the famous Oaxacan tamales in banana leaves. Oaxaca cheese is a soft white string cheese, which is similar to mozzarella. It is sold in “ropes” which are wound onto themselves into balls, and eaten cold or lightly melted on quesadillas is considered among the best in the world.
Chocolate, plays an important part in the Oaxacan cuisine; the cacao beans are ground then combined with sugar, almonds, cinnamon and other ingredients to form bars. Pieces of these bars are mixed with hot milk or water and drunk.Oaxaca is also an important producer of coffee; it has the third place nationwide. Other special drinks are waters of Casilda, a beverage made of horchata with tuna and walnuts, chia or grated lemon, among other fruits; and Tecajete, a drink made of corn and cocoa served cold. Of course you can enjoy a good glass of mezcal, the traditional drink in Oaxaca. There is a saying attributed to Oaxaca regarding the drink: “para todo mal, mezcal, y para todo bien tambien” (for everything bad, mezcal, and for everything good, as well).
Tlayuda, also known as Clayuda, is a typical corn tortilla from the state of Oaxaca, in Mexico. They won a poll organized by the Netflix series “Street Food”, since they were named the best street food in Latin America, that’s why we explain what they are. The tlayudas are born in the Central Valley region of Oaxaca, the word comes from the Nahuatl “tlao-li”, which means “shelled corn”. According to the Larousse Encyclopedic Dictionary of Mexican Gastronomy, tlayuda is a large corn tortilla, measuring approximately 30 centimeters in diameter, that is made from white corn. To cook it, it is first placed on the comal and then placed on the coals where it acquires a more toasted and brittle texture.
The tlayudas, in addition to the crunchy tortilla, are prepared with a delicious combination of ingredients. Although there are currently various preparations, but the traditional tlayudas are prepared with a layer of beans, jerky (dried meat enchilada), chorizo, quesillo, jerky, and of course, its sauce to taste. The tlayuda in most regions of Oaxaca, when served is accompanied by a roasted green chili, commonly called chile de agua, and roasted chambray onions, and optionally lemon; There are also those who accompany it with radishes and some branches of a vegetable called chepiches, which are typical of that region. There are also tlayudas with shrimp, grasshoppers, Chicatan ants or guacamole, among others.
This dish that was born in Oaxaca where it can be tasted in street stalls on any corner, has become very popular in contemporary Oaxacan food restaurants, both in Mexico and in the world, and each one adds a touch of identity to this saucer. Due to their flavor, originality and cultural contribution, the tlayudas are part of the Oaxacan dishes that were declared in 2010, Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO, as well as the Oaxacan mole, the guide soup, and the grasshoppers.
The name mezcal has its roots in one of the ancient native languages of the area and translates as ‘agave (also known as maguey) cooked’. Although pre-Hispanic Oaxacans used maguey to make pulque (an undistilled alcoholic beverage), it seems that the real advances in mezcal production occurred when the Spanish arrived in Oaxaca; by bringing with them their knowledge of distillation processes.
Mezcal is a rich, handcrafted flavored drink that requires considerable attention to be produced.Mezcal production today remains more or less as it was when the Spanish arrived hundreds of years ago. Each ‘recipe’ is transmitted from generation to generation within the families that care about its production; Because each family has its own approach to mezcal production, there are an enormous number of different flavors. It is also in this way that the rich diversity of flavors and traditions are preserved for all to enjoy. Mezcal is normally served with white salt or worm salt (salt mixed with a cooked larva and ground chili), lemon or orange.
There are different types of maguey, and each produces a different version of mezcal; one of the best known, although it does not correspond exactly to the traditional definition of mezcal, is tequila. Simply put, tequila is actually a type of mezcal. The production of mezcal is regulated by the Official Mexican Standard NOM-070-SCFI-1994.
Quesillo (Oaxaca Cheese)
The Quesillo (Oaxaca Cheese) is a variant of white and soft cheese of Mexican origin, specifically from the Central Valleys of the State of Oaxaca. In various regions of Oaxaca it is known as a quesillo. Due to its excellent melting qualities, it is frequently used as a base for flamed cheese, a very popular appetizer in Mexican restaurants, consisting of melted cheese and red chorizo. It is also used in the preparation of quesadillas, and in the Oaxaca valley it is used as a complement to tlayudas.
The town of Reyes Etla, located in the region of the central valleys of Oaxaca, is known as “the cradle of the cheese.” It is believed that it was there that at the end of the 19th century the girl Leobarda Castellanos García forgot to take care of the curdled milk for the production of cheese and by melting the mass with water, a chewy mixture with a mild flavor was produced. Her family took the opportunity to commercialize the new product and later it became a main ingredient of traditional Mexican food.
Although this story is found in the collective imagination of the inhabitants of Reyes Etla, in reality there is no record that supports the existence of Leobarda or her lucky accident. However, it is a great story to give context to one of the most famous cheeses in Mexico.
Oaxacan Tamales (Tamales Oaxaqueños)
One of the most traditional dishes in Oaxaca are Tamales. The word tamal comes from the Nahuatl Tamalli which means wrapped. This wrapped dish, commonly sold by women on street corners of any city or town, is composed mainly of dough made of corn, mole and meat are added, usually chicken. The tamales are steamed.
In Oaxaca, tamales are wrapped in banana or corn leaves. They are a bit greasy but also delicious. Shortening is added to the corn dough. The ratio is a kilo of dough for a quarter of butter. Salt and chicken broth are also added. Everything is kneaded until a uniform dough is obtained. The mole is prepared separately, so that it has a good flavor, chicken broth must be added. The boneless chicken meat will be the main ingredient in the tamale. Banana leaves are boiled and cleaned of coarse fibers. They are then cut into squares. The dough is spread on the leaves, the chicken meat is placed and then the mole. The leaves are folded and tied with the fibers of the banana leaf, everything is cooked with steam.
The main flavors are mole negro, beans, chepil, slices with chili and cheese, and meat. The bean and chili tamales are wrapped in corn husks, called totomoxtle. The visitor can taste this rich pre-Hispanic dish in markets, restaurants, on the street, and in tamalerías throughout the state. If you want to try tamales, your mouth will celebrate its spicy and sweet flavor at the same time.
Chapulines are considered an exotic dish with a unique and delicious flavor, for some others it is a strange and unpleasant-looking dish. The truth is that these crunchy insects are a food within Oaxacan cuisine with a high source of protein.
The collection of these insects is done with the help of a bag-shaped mesh that is tied to a wooden stick, with which they hit the alfalfa branches and the grasshoppers are trapped inside the bag, later they are cooked with garlic and lemon, which is its most common preparation, which allows it to be consumed alone as a snack. There is a great variety of grasshoppers in terms of size: small, medium or large in any presentation is a delight for the palate.
Grasshoppers belong to the zoological order called Orthoptera and abound in alfalfa fields, their name comes from Nahuatl, and means “insect that jumps like a rubber ball”. Its consumption is a pre-Hispanic tradition and has been taking place for more than a thousand years, its flavor is a mixture of sensations on the palate, whoever tastes it is not disappointed. The traditional Oaxacan cuisine has added grasshoppers to the great diversity of dishes offered in the main markets of the capital; Tlayudas, tacos, memelas among others.
Would you dare to try them?
Oaxacan Mole (Seven Moles)
The Oaxacan Mole is a group of moles of the gastronomy of the state of Oaxaca, in Mexico. Mole is a type of sauce that combines chili peppers and spices, thickened with corn masa, and added to various meat and vegetable dishes. The old chronicles say that the Aztecs already mixed the different chilies with the tomato, cocoa and spices, they called it “mulli”, which means sauce. Once the Spanish arrived and gastronomy underwent the natural change of the meeting of the two cultures, it evolved to how we know it today.
The state of Oaxaca has a great cultural and gastronomic wealth recognized worldwide. This place is divided into 8 regions, each of which has a variety of different moles, it is said that the moles of Oaxaca actually number in the dozen, which is totally true. Scattered throughout the state, some examples are the alcaparrado mole, the almendrado, the yellow mole de res del Istmo, a yellow mole de serrano de ven, coloradito con ayocotes, mole coloradito traditional oaxaqueño, almond and chicken stews, ma ‘ach, mole de bueno or fiesta huajuapeño, the coloradito istmeño, the manchamanteles from Oaxaca, mole mixteco, the mole verde from Yucunama, mole de beans colorado and the verde de pollo con chochoyotes … to name just a few, depending on the place the recipe is adapted for your region using different ingredients and preparing it differently, with the unique touch of each demographic area and its culture.
Each region prides itself on having its own mole, depending on the place the recipe adapts to the different ingredients that abound in the area, as well as preparing them differently. It is commonly spoken of the “7 moles of Oaxaca” being these:
- The black mole
- The yellow mole
- The mole coloradito with pork, chicken or beef
- The green mole
- The mole chichilo with beef and avocado leaves
- The red mole with chicken
- The stew with chicken and olives
Caldo de Piedra (Stone Soup)
In the southern state of Oaxaca there is a culinary tradition that is not recorded elsewhere on the planet. It is a dish called Caldo de Piedra, which is prepared exclusively by the men of the indigenous community of San Felipe Usila, in the Tuxtepec region, in honor of the women of the region. But not only the question of gender and the recognition of female work make this recipe something sui generis. Its way of preparation is also quite out of the ordinary. The stone broth, as its name implies, is cooked by placing red-hot stones inside a gourd.
Its history dates back to pre-Columbian times in the Chinantla area (where San Felipe Usila belongs), where the community gathered around the abundant rivers and lagoons in the area. Once there, groups of 15-20 people went into action. But beware: only men. Women rested because it was conceived from the beginning as a kind of gift to thank them for how much they help men every day. For this reason, this ritual was carried out mainly on important days.
Once they had the fresh fish, shrimp or crab ready, they proceeded to place them with water, tomato, onion, green chili, epazote, coriander, water and salt in holes of about 70 centimeters in diameter that they carved on the rocks. Later they placed small stones that previously they had put to heat directly on the embers. In this way, the broth that was made in those bowls was ready in about 3 minutes. And it kept its heat until the stones were no longer red hot. At that time, everyone could make a circle around the huge “stone plate”, serve themselves in gourds and enjoy the food. That is why the broth was also considered a symbol of community work.
Tasajo is the beef cut into thin strips that is salted and hung to dry for several days. This method, in which the meat is dehydrated slowly, preserving all its flavor, is practiced in various parts of the world and Oaxacans are some of the best Mexican experts.
Cecina. The jerky of pork, sliced and marinated in a mixture that usually contains guajillo chili peppers, black pepper, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, oregano, vinegar and salt, all ground. This mixture is spread over the meat, which is usually grilled over charcoal. It should be noted that, unlike other regions of the country in which cecina is a very thin beef meat cured with salt, in Oaxaca the cecina is made from pork and enchilada (not always) as described. In the Central Valleys, a good plate of jerky is usually served with roasted onions, slices of avocado, radishes, lemon and tortillas. Also known as cecina enchilada.
Chorizo is an important element in Oaxacan cuisine as it is included in any of the daily meals. Most of this sausage is made from pork entrails, but there are also beef, chicken and turkey entrails. The tortilla is almost always present when the chorizo is eaten, usually in tacos to which fried onion, cilantro, potato and lemon juice are added.
The Oaxacan Sausage has become a representative icon of our state, distinguished from commercial sausages for its peculiar color and consistency, with an intense red and appearance similar to chorizo. It is so well known, especially in the Central Valleys region, that if you are from Oaxaca and have not tried it, you are definitely cut off from society.
More Tourist Attractions in OAXACA
Oaxaca is the most diverse state in Mexico. It has peaks that reach more than 3,000 meters high, caverns that are among the deepest in the world, virgin beaches, secluded forests, and sunlit valleys. Oaxaca is rich in traditions and customs and has the largest ethnic population found in Mexico.
The City of Oaxaca, the state capital, is famous for its architecture and for its rich cultural traditions. Oaxaca is also graced by a splendid and varied cuisine and spring-like weather year round. UNESCO declared the city a Cultural Heritage Site.… Leer Más
The Santo Domingo Cultural Center is a cultural complex that is located in what was one of the most important convents in the colony. It is a large convent in which the Museum of the Cultures of Oaxaca, the Fray Francisco de Burgoa Library and the Ethnobotanical Garden have been established. The Néstor Sánchez Public Newspaper Library is located in a building that is part of the complex but dates from the 19th century.… Leer Más
Monte Alban is the most important archaeological zone of the Oaxacan entity, of unique regional importance due to the religious, political and economic control that the Zapotec state exercised over the population of the Valley of Oaxaca for more than thirteen centuries. It has been named by UNESCO Cultural Heritage of Humanity together with the city of Oaxaca on December 11, 1987. The heritage of the Zapotec world reaches us through the magnificent archaeological sites designed in the Valley of Oaxaca. Of these, the city of Monte Albán stands out for its enormous importance as an economic, political and religious hub (it was the first urban complex in Mesoamerica); by its extension, almost as big as the current capital of Oaxaca; and for its long life, started around 500 BC and concluded around 850 AD.… Leer Más
The Guelaguetza is an ancient tradition with pre-Hispanic roots related to agricultural ceremonies of gratitude to the gods for the arrival of the rains and the lifting of the harvest at the end of July and is the largest festival in Oaxaca. La Guelaguetza is a celebration of gratitude for the arrival of the rains and the harvests, in which representatives from all regions of the state gather in the capital to share their culture through dances, crafts and food. La Guelaguetza is celebrated every year on the two Mondays after July 16, except when the first Monday is July 18, Benito Juárez’s death anniversary. Many types of dances also participate, such as the traditional Flor de Piña; where women usually dress in Huipiles representing the different regions of the state, as well as with their pineapple on their shoulders, they comb their hair with beautiful long braids accompanied by their ribbons and can not missing her accessories that is, bracelets, necklaces and earrings of precious colors and her beautiful makeup.… Leer Más
Mezcal is a rich, handcrafted flavored drink that requires considerable attention to be produced. Mezcal is normally served with white salt or worm salt (salt mixed with a cooked larva and ground chili), lemon or orange. Mezcal production today remains more or less as it was when the Spanish arrived hundreds of years ago. Each “recipe” is transmitted from generation to generation within the families that care about its production; Because each family has its own approach to mezcal production, there are an enormous number of different flavors. It is also in this way that the rich diversity of flavors and traditions are preserved for all to enjoy.… Leer Más
The beaches of the coast of the state of Oaxaca are among the most beautiful and complete in Mexico, thanks to a developing tourist infrastructure and the rich gastronomy of the Pacific. Along the 533 kilometers of coastline, the beaches of Oaxaca offer a wide variety of activities for lovers of water sports: snorkeling, diving, sport fishing, surfing, among others… there is something for everyone!… Leer Más
Oaxaca is famous throughout the world for its archaeological sites and the history they keep. Discover Monte Alban, Mitla, Yagul and more of these remote sites, which have made Oaxaca a World Heritage city, according to Unesco. The original Zapotec and Mixtec peoples of Oaxaca lived in the cities and religious centers of the valley of this city until the time of Spanish colonization. Today, there are still vestiges of these towns and places where you can meet them.… Leer Más
Oaxaca, located in the southeast of Mexico, is an example of a singular miscegenation that even in the midst of modernity never forgets its origins. In its varied geography, it brings together not only a vast biodiversity, considered among the largest in the world, but also insurmountable cultural and ethnic riches, and the most different and beautiful natural settings. An ideal space for Alternative Tourism, Oaxaca offers activities such as walking, mountain biking, rappelling, climbing, zip-lining, horseback riding, observation of flora and fauna and more, in close contact with nature. The visitor can also witness the various aspects of local life, savor the gastronomy and enjoy the warmth of its people, as well as an offer of accommodation in hotels, ecotourism cabins, local houses or excellent camping areas.… Leer Más
In Oaxaca we are proud to have 5 communities that have been awarded the title of Magic Towns of Mexico, a Magic Town is a town that has symbolic attributes, legends, history, transcendent events, everyday life, in short magic that they emanate in each of their socio-cultural manifestations, and that today mean a great opportunity for tourist use. The Magic Towns Program contributes to revalue a group of populations in the country that have always been in the collective imagination of the nation as a whole and that represent fresh and different alternatives for national and foreign visitors.… Leer Más
Oaxaca is a destination that offers a great variety of attractions and tourist charms which leave anyone surprised. When arriving in the city of Oaxaca, the most common is to visit the historic center, the Santo Domingo Temple, the Macedonio Tourist Walk, the gastronomic delights in the Benito Juárez market, the Basilica de la Soledad, among other attractions. And one of the places that you cannot miss is the Monte Alban archaeological zone, which is approximately 30 minutes by car from the historic center. However, there are other places that are also worth knowing and are in the surroundings of the city. For this reason we recommend the following tourist routes.… Leer Más
In the state of Oaxaca there are many customs and traditions throughout the year, and within the state, said that they have the same purpose of celebration but with different things, in fact from one region to another or even more from one town to another, the Customs vary for perhaps details but that is what makes them authentic. All the holidays are celebrated, the profane and the religious ones. The festival calendar is extensive due to the diversity of ethnic groups, which they still conserve. Oaxaca has a combination in its traditions of the culture of the ancestors and the current culture, a state that does not lose its customs, adapts them to new times and needs.… Leer Más
Guided Tours in OAXACA
Flights & Hotels in OAXACA
More Tourist Attractions in MEXICO
Mexico has an incredible diversity of landscapes, where the beauty of its beaches, internationally recognized, stands out. In its vast territory of coasts, there are beaches of unparalleled beauty, and colorful landscapes. A large network of first-class hotels and tourist services is available to visitors to these beaches. Mexico is also mystical places, dotted with archaeological testimonies inherited from its original inhabitants. Monuments made by the Mayas, Aztecs and Toltecs are located in magical landscapes, like lighthouses in an ocean of natural beauty. They offer visitors buildings that tell their history, and museums that collect their cultural heritage. And that keep alive ancestral traditions, in ceremonies and festivals, where you can enjoy cultural activities and entertainment.… Leer Más
The Gastronomy of Mexico has a great diversity of typical dishes, which is why it was recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The basic and representative ingredients of Mexican dishes are: corn, coriander, chili, beans, piloncillo, nopal and tomato. Mexican cuisine is also characterized by its sauces, which serve as an accompaniment to traditional dishes, prepared based on spices.… Leer Más
On the Beaches of Mexico you can immerse yourself in the intense blue ocean of the Pacific bays, sunbathe on the shore of the warm and transparent waves of the Caribbean Sea in Quintana Roo or even rest on the beautiful coasts of the Gulf of Mexico. Mexican beaches hide wonderful secrets for the traveler. By visiting them, in addition to enjoying the excellent climate and water activities, you can discover splendid archaeological sites and interesting colonial cities without traveling long distances.… Leer Más
It is practically impossible to make a meticulous, and above all, accurate selection of the places to visit in Mexico. Each place that our country houses is unique and beautiful in its own way. Mexico, with its nearly 2 million km², has a large number of scenarios to offer, as well as endless activities to do. Do not lose your way and enter the places to visit in Mexico. In Mexico, apart from the beaches and its famous archaeological sites, there are many other really interesting sites and activities that you should know. In the surroundings of the main cities you will find places full of culture and tradition, where you can spend relaxing, interesting and fun vacations. On your trip through Mexico you cannot stop obtaining souvenirs, the crafts that are made here are of the highest quality and recognized worldwide. A shopping tour cannot be missed.… Leer Más
Mexico is one of the best countries for Ecotourism as it has a great variety of flora and fauna, as well as a large number of refuges for extraordinary species. You can enjoy recreational activities of appreciation and knowledge of nature through contact with it, such as: stargazing, observation of natural attractions, wildlife and bird watching. Throughout México there are more than 176 protected natural areas, 5 of them considered by UNESCO as Natural Heritage of Humanity. Just for this and much more, we believe that Mexico is a Paradise for Ecotourism.… Leer Más
Folklore, gastronomy, literary culture, art and exhibitions, is what you will find in the capitals of the states of Mexico. To the north, colonial Mexico, Puebla, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, the Sonoran desert and the California peninsula. To the east Veracruz and the gulf. To the west Acapulco, Oaxaca and Tuxtla Gutiérrez. And to the south the Riviera Maya and the pyramids of Chichén-Itzá, Tulúm and Cobá in Yucatán, Palenque in Chiapas, the cenotes, and the Central American jungles.… Leer Más
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A Magic Town is a place with symbols and legends, towns with history that in many cases have been the scene of transcendent events for our country, they are places that show the national identity in each of its corners, with a magic that emanates from its attractions ; visiting them is an opportunity to discover the charm of Mexico. The Magical Towns Program contributes to revalue a set of populations in the country that have always been in the collective imagination of the nation and that represent fresh and varied alternatives for national and foreign visitors. A town that through time and in the face of modernity, has conserved, valued and defended its historical, cultural and natural heritage; and manifests it in various expressions through its tangible and intangible heritage. A Magical Town is a town that has unique, symbolic attributes, authentic stories, transcendent events, everyday life, which means a great opportunity for tourist use, taking into account the motivations and needs of travelers.… Leer Más