Of the many gastronomies of Mexico, Oaxaca’s is distinguished by the strong presence of pre-Hispanic elements, fused lovingly with ingredients brought by the Spanish, but still distinctively non-European in their flavors and colors. From chocolate and hot pepper to exotic fried grasshoppers, iguana meat, delicious “quesillo” (stringy white cheese), the region's traditional butterfat bread and tasty mezcal, Oaxaca’s cuisine always has a surprise in store for your taste buds. On the coast, on the edge of the emerald-green sea, Oaxaca's finest seafood awaits you.
The delights of Oaxacan gastronomy first enter your senses through the vibrant colors of fruits and the variety of multi-colored hot peppers used in the creation of its seven varieties of mole sauce. The second sense to be hit by Oaxacan cuisine is without doubt your sense of smell: the scent of Oaxacan chocolate and the typical local fruits, such as mamey and chicozapote, the smell of the beef prepared for “tasajo” (salted and roasted lean beef cut) are just some of the intoxicating scents you'll encounter here. The crunchy texture of tlayudas (a giant tortilla served with beans, cheese, avocado and tomato) and the spongy freshness of the butterfat bread are some of the other surprises Oaxacan food has in store.
If you've already sampled Oaxaca's gastronomic delights in the state capital's many markets, be prepared for a whole other take on Oaxacan cuisine at the coast. Shrimp and lobster, as well as fish species native to the coast, including “bonito”, “barrilete” and tuna, are the most popular choices for locals. In Huatulco and Puerto Escondido alike, a speciality is “empapelado” (foil-wrapped then steamed or baked) fish. The people who live along Oaxaca's coastline really know how to season: no two dishes here taste alike; the only constants will be the unbeatable freshness of the produce and the marvelous backdrop of Oaxaca’s pristine beaches. Adding a shot of local mezcal to the medley is an optional extra.