It is the general belief that when traveling people should eat everything that’s different than what they are normally eat. This is more true if someone offers it to you. When a person offers you food, you eat it — unless you want to insult them. So when I took a trip to the town of Oaxaca in the summer of 2003, and I came back without trying the chapulines (grasshoppers fried in oil and seasoned with salt) my entire family was disappointed in me. How could you go to Oaxaca and not have the state delicacy, they asked? What can I say? I hate bugs. I scream at the sight of any insect no matter the size, so why would I put one in my mouth? Today, nearly six years later, I got my second chance at La Probadita, a boutique shop that offers the tastes of Oaxaca.
The state of Oaxaca boasts at least 16 local indigenous groups, each with their own language and culture, and pride in being the most diverse and traditionally authentic in Mexico. This is also reflected in the food. At La Probadita, I had a chance to taste and purchase many of the state’s famous foods from chocolate, coffee, mole, Mezcal in a variety of flavors like almond, mango crÃ¨me and traditional, and of course, chapulines. As soon as I walked in a woman dressed in traditional clothes offered to let me try this celebrated snack. Being faced with these roasted red creatures for a second time I knew what I had to do.
After a silent pep talk, I took a cooked grasshopper in my hand, and quickly freaked out at having to touch a bug. After a second pep talk, I placed the bug in my mouth and bit down. What did it taste like? Like roasted peanuts (there is a definite crunch) seasoned with lemon and salt. In the end, not so bad, but it’s still an insect.