• Sharon

Oaxacan Food Primer

Updated: Jan 24

Quick reference guide to popular Oaxacan foods


We had heard about all the wonderful Oaxacan food choices, but once we got into town, we were a little confused by the choices. Here’s a quick reference guide you can use for some of the most common menu items.


Tlayudas. These are very large thin corn tortillas that are first dried or baked. Then, they topped with a layer of lard, beans, lettuce, avocado, cheese, salsa, and your choice of meat – beef, chicken, or pork. They are like really big tostados or chalupas. If you are feeling adventuresome, get one with insects as your protein choice.



Insectos. Speaking of insects, there are plenty to choose from – chicatanas (giant ants), gustano del maguey (worms), and chapulines (grasshoppers) just to name a few. FYI – we were not brave enough to try any so we can't give you any advice here, other than to say, "Good luck with that!"



Enfrijoladas. These are variations of enchiladas. However, rather than being dipped in “chile” as in en’chil’adas, they are dipped in frijoles (beans). Note, the en’frijol’adas name. Get them stuffed with your choice of filling – meat and/or cheese.


Emoladas. Here we go again with the stuffed tortillas. This time they are rolled in a mole, giving them the en’mol’adas name. Try something different and have them stuffed with quinoa and nuts and topped with cheese and bananas. Yummy!


Memelas. These are fried masa cakes that can be covered with pretty much whatever you desire – beans, meat, cabbage, guacamole, cheese, salsa, etc. And, if you see them on the menu, memelitas are just smaller versions of memelas. (The “-ita” suffix means “little.”)


Tasajos. Looking for something similar to fajitas? Well then, try tasajos. These are thin slices of grilled beef that are often served with chiles de agua (water chiles) and cheese.



Moles. Oaxaca is probably best known for its seven types of moles. There are plenty of foodie blogs out there that you can use to research each one in detail. But, for a quick reference, here’s an overview:

· rojo (red);

· coloradito (reddish);

· amarillo (yellow);

· verde (green);

· negro (black);

· chichilo (yellowish-brown like the monkey for which it’s named ); and

· manchamantel (table-cloth stainer….wear a bib for that one!).


Be sure and bring your fat pants because if you’re like us, you’re going to need them after eating all the delicious Oaxacan food!


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We are avid travelers who are inspired by different countries and cultures - - - people, histories, arts, traditions, foods, languages, and more.  We've sold  most of our belongings, including our home and cars so that we can spend spend our days "trippin" around the globe.   We hope you enjoy traveling with us!                 -  Russell and Sharon 

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