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Grasshoppers, worms, and flying ants are just some of the strange Mexican foods you can expect to dine on during your trip. These protein-enriched foodstuffs may not appear too appetizing, but close your eyes, dive in and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. In Mexico, you’ll find a novel range of creepy-crawly body parts to wolf down in a taco or two, some vegetarian delights, and a super-rich dessert to add some sweetness to the savory.
Escamoles (ant egg sacs)
Let’s start with a true Mexican delicacy! There’s evidence of people eating escamoles well before the Spanish arrived so they offer a taste of history, too. Caviar lovers will delight in them, and like many Mexican foods, they’re usually found in maguey plants.
Taste-wise, imagine an interesting combo of sweet corn, butter and nuts. Given their scarcity when compared to many other nibbles, they carry a higher price, but for anyone wishing to try strange Mexican foods, escamoles are a must. Look out for them in tacos or served with a side dish of guacamole.
Where to eat escamoles in Mexico: Las Ventanas al Paraíso, A Rosewood Resort, Los Cabos
Tacos de ojos (eyeball tacos)
When you dive deeper into Mexico City’s street food scene, you’ll find almost everything you can imagine within the comforting folds of a taco. But it doesn’t get much stranger than eyeballs.
Don’t worry, your taco won’t be watching as you eat it! The eyeballs are usually from a cow and are surprisingly sweet and non-squeaky. You’ll find them sliced and resembling many other cuts of ‘meat’, but their distinct taste marks them out as something unique. Be sure to keep an eye out for them (ahem) on a trip to Mexico.
Where to eat tacos de ojos in Mexico: Coyoacan Market, Ignacio Allende s/n, Del Carmen, Coyoacán, 04100 Mexico City
Chicatanas (flying ants)
Welcome to the culinary delight that is the flying ant. When you’re crunching into one of these fellows, consider the effort made by the person who caught them for you. They’re only available after the summer’s first rainfall, and catchers have to rise at 3 am to stand a chance of getting a haul. Oh, and they also give off a nasty bite.
By the time they’re on your plate, they are of course quite harmless. You’ll find them toasted and served with a dip, ground into salsa, plopped in a taco, or even served on pizza. As for the taste, there’s a strong nutty undertone with a chocolatey finish — what’s not to like?
Where to eat chicatanas in Mexico: Pujol, Tennyson 133, Polanco, Polanco IV Secc, Miguel Hidalgo, 11570 Mexico City
Chinicuiles (maguey worms)
As their name suggests, maguey worms are found on the maguey plant, and you may sometimes see them rolling around at the bottom of a mescal bottle. Cultures across the world eat worms in their many forms, and Mexicans are no different. Chinicuiles are usually fried and eaten as a crunchy snack. Like many bugs, they’re super-high in protein and often washed down with several bottles of ice-cold beer.
Where to eat chinicuiles in Mexico: Casa Oaxaca, C/ de la Constitución #104-A, RUTA INDEPENDENCIA, Centro, 68000 Oaxaca City
Grasshoppers go down well as a pre-dinner snack or something to nibble on when hunger strikes mid-afternoon. They’re an important Mexican cultural food and locals have been eating them for centuries. If you take a trip to one of Mexico’s many fabulous markets, you see them piled high.
If eaten in their most basic form, you may be surprised to find grasshoppers have a slightly fishy taste (perhaps they go swimming when no one’s looking). But you’re more likely to find them cooked in chili, salt, and lime which overrides their natural flavor. No trip to Oaxaca should be without them!
Where to eat chapulines in Mexico: Comedor Juanita Mercado Benito Juarez, 71980, Calle Octava Nte. 220, Juárez, Puerto Escondido
Huitlacoche (corn smut)
Corn smut is a fungus that attaches itself to sweet corn. Its appearance isn’t dissimilar to mushroom and it tastes rather shroomy too. Huitlacoche is a Mexican staple food found in tacos, soups and cans. This woody fungus is actually a great example of finding light through darkness, as it grows on diseased sweet corn. The corn itself may be ruined, but there’s something equally delicious in its place. And there’s nothing ‘smutty’ about this Mexican food whatsoever!
Where to eat huitlacoche in Mexico: Street food around Santa Lucia Parque, Yucatan, Mexican Caribbean
Menudo (tripe soup)
Tripe soup is made from the stomach of a cow, and you’ll find dishes with the same principle ingredient almost anywhere in the world. However, Mexican menudo is a regional specialty due to its long, colorful history.
Many families have their own unique take on the recipe, but you’ll likely find onions, oregano, chili and lime served with the dish. It’s traditionally served on a Sunday, and some locals swear by menudo as a hangover cure. If you happen to have overdone the mezcal on your Mexican adventure and are feeling particularly brave one morning, by all means, see if they’re right!
Tripe is rather bland if eaten alone, but after being boiled for hours, it’ll soak up the flavor of whatever else is added to the soup.
Where to eat menudo in Mexico: El Tacoqueto, C. Júpiter Sur, Tulum Centro, 77760 Tulum
Criadillas de toro (bull’s testicles)
Fear not, there’s a chance you’ve already eaten these if you like sausages, though perhaps not in such a blatant form. Still, you’re here to find strange Mexican foods and criadillas de toro are certainly that. You’ll likely find them fried, chopped and served in a tortilla with veg, salad, and a good squeeze of lime. Their taste is reminiscent of a takeaway hot dog. And they’ll give you the strength to pull up trees and wrestle bears. Perhaps.
Where to eat criadillas de toro in Mexico: El Taquito, C. del Carmen 69, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06020 Mexico City
Tacos de sesos (cow’s brain)
Tacos de sesos takes the phrase ‘brain food’ to a whole new level. In reality, brains are treated in Mexico like any other meat or offal — flavored, fried and stuffed in a taco. You may be surprised to learn that brains were a popular western food for previous generations, typically served on toast. Their flavor is like a very creamy meat. We don’t know whether eating brains makes you more intelligent or not, but hey, it’s gotta be worth a try!
Where to eat taco de seso in Mexico: El Borrego Viudo, Calle Cerrada de Revolución, Tacubaya
Chongos zamoranos (curdled milk dessert)
Perhaps the least strange of the strange Mexican foods on our list is chongos zamoranos, but we couldn’t leave without mentioning dessert! The pieces are formed from curdled milk. Sugar and cinnamon are added, and the dessert resembles lightly-fried tofu with the consistency of soft cheese. Chongos are the perfect antidote to any strange-but-tasty main dish, and a must-eat Mexican food in their own right.
Where to eat chongos zamoranos in Mexico: Hostería de Santo Domingo, Belisario Domínguez 70-72, Centro Histórico de la Cdad. de México, Centro, Cuauhtémoc, 06010 Mexico City
We hope you’ve enjoyed a taste of strange Mexican foods! If you’re looking for something a little less challenging, be sure to check out our Mexican food guide (coming soon)!
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