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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Fried crickets on the menu at Oaxaca’s famous Gueleguetza in Mérida

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Traditional Oaxacan Gueleguetza across from Mérida’s old prison. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Mérida’s Parque de la Paz, across from the Centenario Zoo, is hosting a traditional Oaxacan Gueleguetza festival complete with entertainment and plenty of food.

The Guelaguetza festival, which began last week, will continue until Sunday.

Oaxacan cuisine is one of the most diverse in Mexico and features all sorts of dishes including several takes on mole and deep fried yummies. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The Guelaguetza (meaning Mondays on the hill,) is an indigenous Oaxacan event that takes place in a number of markets.

Folks line up for a taste of Oaxacan delicacies during the Gueleguetza festival held in Mérida. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Because of the popularity of the festival, event organizers from Oaxaca have decided to start taking the Gueleguetza on the road to cities across Mexico. 

Everywhere you turn at the Guelaguetza you will see traditional colorful flags with elaborate designs. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic travel has been hard and fewer people have been visiting Oaxaca, so we have decided to bring Oaxaca to them,” said event organizer Alberto Vásquez.

Woman dancing folk dance at the 2019 Guelaguetza Festival. Photo: S Pakhrin, Wikimedia Foundation.

Aside from the colorful folkloric dancing on display, the true star of the Gueleguetza is Oaxaca’s cuisine.

Women preparing large Oaxacan style crunchy tortillas on a grill at the Guelaguetza in Mérida. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht.

When most people in Mexico think of food in Oaxaca they think of tlayudas. So of course, this dish is front and center at every Gueleguetza.

A Tlayuda is made of a large, thin, crunchy fried tortilla covered with refried beans, stuffed with pork or another protein, and covered in lettuce, cabbage, or avocado. Photo: Thelmadatter, Wikimedia Foundation. 

But as popular as Tlyaudas are, there is another dish that catches the attention of onlookers: fried grasshoppers, known as chapulines.

Vásquez demonstrates how to prepare chapulines at Mérida’s Oaxacan Gueleguetza. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

“We prepare chapulines by frying them in olive oil, adding plenty of garlic, chilly powder,” says Alberto Vasquez. 

The chapulines can be enjoyed on their own or in a taco or tlayuda. Because they are so crunchy and salty they also make for a great snack, similar to peanuts. 

Chapulines definitely taste best when freshly fried, as once they get cold they lose much of their crunch. Photo: Carlos Rosado vans der Gracht

The insects are caught by hand early in the morning or late at night in the mountainous regions of Oaxaca, when the colder weather practically paralyzes them, making their capture relatively easy. 

A closeup of traditional chapulines on offer at Mérida’s traditional Gueleguetza. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

For those not interested in eating crickets, the Gueleguetza also offers a wide array of other artisanal products, including mezcal, jewelry, and traditional desserts. 

A traveling jewelry shop from Oaxaca at Mérida’s Gueleguetza in the Parque de la Paz. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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