While some people grew up eating pancakes, eggs, and bacon for breakfast, I was #blessed to grow up in a Oaxacan household. Let me tell you something about growing up with two Oaxacan parents—chocolate de agua (aka Mexican hot chocolate) and pan de llema (aka bread made with eggs) will be staple items.
Not only that quesillo, aka heaven in form of a cheese, will always be available or at least desired. Sh*ts about to get serious, people. Here's a break down of Oaxacan food that you should definitely try sooner rather than later.
Let's start off with one of my very favorites: chapulines aka grasshoppers. These were pretty much my version of peanuts when I was growing up. Now I've heard it all when it comes to me eating these lovely insects, but let me just tell you, you can't dismiss it until you try it.
They're typically toasted in a large comal (a clay-like cooking pan) and mixed in with lime, garlic, and small chilis. The initial crunchiness mixed with the sour and saltiness create just the right balance. Eaten by themselves or rolled in a tortilla, you can't go wrong with this Oaxacan treat.
Lovers of cheese unite. An ultimate staple in a Oaxacan household: quesillo. It's safe to say these little bundles of cheese rarely get to see a third day in my house. And that's just because they're that good. Safe to say that this Oaxacan food is a favorite amongst my sisters and I. They have a cream-like texture similar to Mozzarella, but has its completely own individual flavor. Alone or in a tortilla (with the optional salsa) your tastebuds will love you.
If I had to choose my last meal, this would definitely be it without a doubt. I mean it's pretty much Oaxaca on a plate. First, you have a big toasted tortilla that's smothered with black bean puree. Next up comes an abundance of my one true love quesillo and a handful of shredded lettuce. And that, my friends, is what you call a #basic tlayuda.
But since I'm not the type of person to just order a plain burrito, but add gallops of guacamole goodness, a basic tlayuda is not my style—but it is still good. Personally, adding salsa, chapulines, and having chorizo and/or tasajo (dried meat that's fried) on top of this Oaxacan dish kicks it up a notch.
4. Chocolate de Agua con Pan de Llema
Like I said before, this was pretty much part of my breakfast every single day. The chocolate de agua is basically Mexican hot chocolate made with cocoa and water. Its bittersweet taste alongside the pan de llema was my version of cookies and milk.
The bittersweet taste of the chocolate gets some getting used to, so instead of water, it could be made with milk to make it less bitter. Either way ,chocolate-anything is a pretty good way to start your morning if you ask me!
Out of the five, I think mole is the most well-known Oaxacan dish. I've seen my mom and grandma make it from scratch hundreds of times and it never fails to amaze me. It's a sauce that's made with various ingredients including bread, chocolate and spices.
Traditionally, this Oaxacan food is served on top of a piece of chicken with a side of rice. I recommend smothering the chicken and rice with a very generous amount of mole and using your hands to eat it with a tortilla.
Now if you want to kick it up a notch, mole on top of a row of enchiladas (with a side of meat) is a choice you won't regret. Also, if you add onion, cilantro, and cheese to it, it'll be 100x better!
#SpoonTip: Avoid wearing white when eating this dish because it will get very messy.
I could go on and on, praising more Oaxacan foods that occupy a very special place in my heart and belly, but writing this post just made me very hungry #struggles.
Unfortunately, there aren't many restaurants around Davis specializing in sole Oaxacan cuisine, but restaurants like Cielito Lindo Mexican Gastronomy and Zocalo in Sacramento have dishes inspired by Oaxacan cuisine. Because remember there's no shame in being like Joey—especially when it comes to Oaxacan food.