One of the things I love most about Mexico is the food and drink. I never get bored with Mexican cuisine. It’s a wonderful blend of native and Spanish flavors that has become its own special taste.
Articles about Food and Drink
When I think of Mexican food, the first things I think of is the main ingredients that are native to the Americas: corn, chilies, tomatoes, and avocados. Mexico is a huge country with many regions that vary considerably in environment, but you’ll find these staples everywhere.
Corn is definitely the backbone of food here; from the ubiquitous tortilla to ancient tamales to soup to beverages like atole. There are wheat tortillas but they are not generally the “everyday” tortilla and tend to be used for very specific dishes. Corn is king in Mexico.
Most people think of “spicy” when they think of Mexican food, and while the chili is always at the ready, we’ve found that most food is made without much or any heat. Food is almost always served with chili and/or salsas on the side though, so you can spice it up or leave it relatively tame. (Of course dishes that are specifically made with chilies are a different story. Chile relleno made with pasilla chilies are deliciously spicy.)
Mexican cuisine is also amazing at making use of everything it can. You will find ingredients you’ve never thought or heard of (cactus, guaje seeds, avocado leaves) or that might make you take pause (grasshoppers, tadpoles, all kinds of animal parts). I’ll dive into more specifics in targeted articles, but the general idea is that the food is well worth exploring and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a bit. Things that you may not be used to or sound a bit weird can taste amazing and we’ve definitely added new favorite foods to our lives by being open to what we eat.
Aside from the well-known alcoholic drinks of beer, tequila, and mezcal, Mexico has an amazing array of interesting drinks. You will find a ton of fresh juices made from just about any fruit you can think of, which are also lightened and made more refreshing by adding water (aguas) or made richer by adding milk (licuados). On the hot beverage front, Mexico is the land of coffee and chocolate, with a surprising array of variations on those themes. There are also a number of regional drinks to explore like tepache, tejate, and pulque.
Oaxaca is a prime target for people who love food and drink. I would even say that it is the best culinary capital in Mexico outside of Mexico City. Like all regions of Mexico, you can get a wide variety of Mexican dishes, but there is also a distinct local food culture that sets it apart from other areas of the country. The different regions of Oaxaca state each have their own specialties and indigenous influence. With Oaxaca City being in Valles Centrales, the city takes a lot of influence from the local central Zapotec communities, although there is also a blend of Mixtec from the west and the Istemeño Zapotec from the east. In addition to exploring the local cuisine, there are also just a good number of really great restaurants in the city run by some of the top chefs in Mexico.
There is a whole set of typical Oaxacan food to choose from. The most well-known Oaxacan dish is probably the tlayuda, which some people refer to as a Mexican pizza. Most people also associate Oaxaca with grasshoppers (chapulines) in the cuisine, Oaxacan string cheese (quesillo), and tasajo, a special flat cut of meat.
For drinking, to start with non-alcoholic, you’ll find that Oaxaca specializes in drinks from the family of cacao plants. In addition to a very strong tradition of drinking chocolate you will also find tejate, made with flor de cacao, a tree that is in the same family as the chocolate tree but quite different altogether, and chocolateatole, which is not your normal atole in that it uses a another, closer chocolate relative called white cacao or petaxte.
On the alcohol side, Oaxaca is famous around the world for mezcal. Mezcal is a distilled liquor made from the agave. Tequila is really just one kind of mezcal that is made from a specific variety of agave and has regional and production restrictions for its name. The mezcal designation is also controlled regionally these days and while there are many Mexican states producing it now, Oaxaca is still the primary producer. You’ll find a lot of opportunities to try hundreds of varieties in Oaxaca, in addition to a plethora of cocktails based on mezcal. There is also a low alcohol, non-distilled agave beverage called pulque, which is popular in Oaxaca as well. Aside from its famous agave beverages, Oaxaca is also producing some nice craft beers, with several local breweries.