Chapulines at a Oaxacan Market

Barrio de Jalatlaco, Oaxaca de Juárez, Oax., Mexico

Throughout Mexico in the many colorful markets there are lots of interesting items for sale, from live animals and produce to clothing and all sorts of knickknacks. Food is also plentiful and varied. But nothing seems to have registered more with me than the women in the Oaxacan markets screaming “Chapulines! Chapulines!” A quick peek at the giant baskets they carry and you’ll readily notice that insects are on display. Grasshoppers to be exact. Chapulines are very popular in this region and locals buy them by the bagful and munch on them as afternoon snacks. They are only collected at certain times of the year, and after a thorough cleaning and washing, they are toasted with garlic, lime juice, chili and salt. Skeptical as I was, I just had to see what all the fuss was about. So, I bought a small bagful. I reached in, grabbed one and got completely grossed out. Antennae, eyes, wings - everything was still visible. I took a tiny nibble on a wing. Not bad tasting really, but I just didn’t have the stomach to bite through to the center of the critter. I gave the rest of the bag away to a gentleman who was more than thrilled with my offer.

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Tasting Chapulines

The chapulines I tried were tiny and chewy, and tart and salty. The tinier ones spare you the problem of identifying body parts. They would have tasted better with beer. One of the people in our party was pickpocketed in the jam-packed chapulines section of the Benito Juarez market in Oaxaca. Traveler, beware.

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