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Oaxaca Travel Guide

Traditional Food & Drink in Oaxaca, Mexico

Traditional Food Oaxaca
Also called a "clayuda", this is a specialty of Oaxacan cooking. It's a thin, crispy tortilla, spread with "special pork fat", black bean paste and sprinkled with cilantro, onions and crumbled Mexican cheese, then topped with various meats.

Oaxaca is famous for many things, not the least of which is their traditional food and drink. Oaxacan cuisine is the perfect marriage of Mediterranean and Mesoamerican culture, lending it an exotic combination of colors, flavors and aromas.

Oaxacan Food

Oaxaca is not called the "Land of the Seven Moles" for nothing. Mole, which gets its name from the Nahuatl word called "Molli" meaning mixture, is a rich sauce that contains more than 32 ingredients including spices, chiles and even chocolate. Frequently served over chicken, mole is also specially prepared for the Day of the Dead. This dish is made to honor the family's departed loved one and is placed upon the altar, in the hopes of a visit from the souls of the dead.

Another unique Oaxacan dish is "chapulines colorados". These are actually little grasshoppers served as appetizers. A popular saying goes that anyone who tastes this salty and legendary dish will always return to Oaxaca.

Corn and meat are Oaxaca's culinary staples. Most appetizers, main courses and even snacks are made from these, such as tortitas, molletes and tarazones. Tortillas are a favorite here, as they are the most versatile item. They can be made into quesadillas or empanadas, picadas or gorditas. Fried tortillas are called tostados, while rolled tortillas can be called tacos. In between meals, guests can munch on popular snacks such as clayudas, totopos or tamales.

Oaxacan Drinks

Traditional Oaxacan drinks also deserve special mention. Oaxaca prides itself on having one of the finest alcoholic beverages in the world: mezcal. Mezcal comes from the Nahuatl words maguey, elt, izcaloa. Made from the Agave cactus, mezcal comes in a variety of ages and flavors. The most popular mezcal includes a special worm to enhance its taste.

Other favorites include tejate, a cold drink made from cocoa and aguas frescas. Read more: