You Must Try: Grasshoppers in Mexico
Most people think of tacos and tequila when they think of Mexico, which is accurate, but Mexico’s got some pretty interesting culinary traditions that you may not have heard of. One of my favorites happens to be delightfully crunchy grasshoppers, or chapulines, as they are called in Mexico.
Before you start squirming in your seat, you should know that the grasshoppers are not eaten while they’re still alive and hopping around, and they aren’t just slopped into a serving bowl as an appetizer. First, the chapulines are roasted and/or fried and then seasoned with garlic, lime juice, salt, and sometimes chili pepper, giving them a nice kick of spice. Once they have been properly cooked and seasoned, they can be tossed into variety of dishes such as quesadillas, tacos, and even salads. They’re never meant to be the main event at any meal, you can think of them more as the bacon-bits of traditional Mexican cuisine. An extra little crunch of flavor that you can sprinkle onto virtually any savory dish you’d like. It is also common to see grasshoppers served up in batches to be eaten by the handful at sporting events.
Of course, you won’t find grasshoppers on menus all throughout the country of Mexico. This adventurous food is most widely found in the state of Oaxaca. While Oaxaca is rather large and fairly diverse when it comes to culinary traditions, the entire state is known for having impressive food. Oaxaca is truly a foodie’s dream. They’ve got everything from high-end restaurants to some of the best street food you’ll ever taste, and you can bet on a lot of them listing grasshoppers as an option. Oaxaca’s culinary genius is respected by many chefs, foodies, and hungry travelers everywhere, which is perhaps why so many people trust them enough to try insects in their food.
Before you make up your mind about crunching down on grasshoppers, take a look at these quick facts:
– Many Mexicans claim that chapulines are an aphrodisiac and “keep you hopping” in the bedroom.
– Grasshoppers must be thoroughly washed and then cooked (usually roasted on a comal, or clay cooking surface) before eating. If you are not confident that your grasshoppers have been cooked thoroughly, it’s better to pass and wait for a safer batch. If grasshoppers are eaten raw, they have the potential to make you very ill.
– They sound and look a lot grosser than they are. If the infamous chefs of Oaxaca love them, they’re worth a try, right?
Photo by williamnyk on Flickr.com
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