The food of Oaxaca (pronounced waa-har-kar) in Mexico is as diverse as its geography, landscape and indigenous cultures. Located in the south of Mexico, Oaxaca State features high mountain ranges and tropical climates good for bananas and cacao, a central area ideal for growing vegetables and a cooler coastal shoreline on the Pacific Ocean for fishing. There are many recognised indigenous groups throughout Oaxaca that also influence the ingredients and style of cooking across the state. Here are some popular examples of the food of Oaxaca in Mexico.
Barbacoa is a type of barbeque where meat is either slow-cooked over an open fire or, more traditionally, cooked in a pit dug into the ground that is covered with leaves. It’s a bit like a Maori hangi. The meat generally has a strong flavour, a result of the cooking style, and is usually served on warm corn tortillas with salsa, guacamole, coriander and lime juice. Doing one of these here in Oz is definitely on our bucket list.
Champurrado is a type of thick, hot chocolate drink popular in Oaxaca where they grow cacao. Champurrado is traditionally served at the start of the day with churros. The hot chocolate drink is maize based, which gives it thickness, and can be flavoured with spices like vanilla or cinnamon. It is a popular drink during the Day of the Dead Festival and around Christmas time. In Oaxaca, you will find Champurrado vendors on many street corners.
A Tamale starts with a dough made from nixtamalised corn or masa combined with lard or vegetable shortening. The dough is then filled with a sweet or savoury filling like meat, cheese, vegetables and chilli. In Oaxaca, Tamales are traditionally wrapped in banana leaves before being steamed until firm and served as street food.
- Queso Oaxaca
Oaxacan String Cheese is a cow milk cheese similar to mozzarella that was introduced to Oaxcaca by Italian monks. Somewhere in between bocconcini and haloumi, it tastes mild, salty and tangy and cheesemakers like to roll strings of the cheese into giant sized balls. Queso Oaxaca is used as a filling in quesadillas and empanadas.
That’s just a small taste of The Food of Oaxaca in Mexico but it seems there is something for everyone.