OAXACA CITY, Mexico — Sometimes when I travel I like to use what you might call culture-shock therapy to convince myself I’m not in Seattle anymore.
So today I ate grasshoppers for lunch. Yeah, that did it.
They call them chapulines here in Oaxaca, where I flew on Saturday to attend a week of Spanish-language school, fodder for a future travel story. Fried till they’re crispy, and served with a bit of guacamole on the side, the ‘hoppers are a local specialty.
I’ll be attending four hours of classes in the mornings starting Monday, but I’ll have afternoons to explore the city and nearby villages and report a few times in the Northwest Traveler blog.
Thursday, I’ll tour a nearby village with an organization that does microloans to local women to help them start their own businesses selling crafts, running a shop, making candles for the local church, etc. Proceeds from taking visitors to meet the aspiring entrepreneurs goes toward making more loans.
Next Saturday, I’m taking the night bus to San Cristobal de las Casas, a historical colonial hilltown in Chiapas, where I’ll join in the celebration of Mexican Independence Day, Sept. 16. Should be interesting in a place known for the Zapatista Rebellion of the 1990s.
Meanwhile — gustatory grasshoppers: They came in a mound inside a fried tortilla bowl. These were tiny grasshoppers, so I had to peer closely to see the legs and, uh, antennae. They were dark, reddish-brown with a piquant, sort of soy flavor and a mild crunch.
Wrapped in a flour tortilla and smothered with enough guac, red sauce, shredded cabbage and tomato, they went right down. And don’t forget the cerveza!
Only one problem: Ever since lunch, I’ve been running my tongue over my teeth, imagining tiny feelers stuck between my molars. I am so flossing tonight. Maybe twice.