Montezcuma’s Revenge – Fact or Fiction
Foreigners come here all the time deathly afraid of the food and drink. Horror stories of “Montezuma’s Revenge”, (really bad diareah for those who are new), run through their head and they literally come here predisposed ...
Come on now! If you’re going to come to Oaxaca how can you not try all the delicious food here! Foreigners come here all the time deathly afraid of the food and drink. Horror stories of “Montezuma’s Revenge”, (really bad diareah for those who are new), run through their head and they literally come here predisposed to enduring long, grueling hours in the bathroom where, even if you finish, you can’t walk because your legs fall asleep. But this is completely over exaggerated.... Not saying that it doesn’t happen but being cautious is one thing and blind fear is another.
Most locals here drink bottled water just as the tourists are recommended to do though they buy it in what they call “garrafones” which are the big water bottles that you usually see in offices with those paper cups that fall apart with one use. Really the only ones that drink the water right out of the faucet with impunity are the “campesinos”, (farmers), whose stomach has more than gotten used to the bacterias that cause intesinal distress after a lifetime of exposure.
Yet you will find that in most restaurants here in Oaxaca, the vegetables are disinfected with iodine and the dishes are washed with a tad of Clorox just to take precautions and to put the tourist mind at ease. In other places, such as the smaller restaurants further away from the Historic Center, these practices aren’t performed. Now I can tell you from my own personal experience, and I have a very sensitive stomach, that after 11 years of eating everything everywhere I maybe got sick twice. It was a learning process for me because when I first got here I had no idea what food was what or how anything tasted. I mistakenly thought that mexican food was the crispy corn tacos and bean burritos served in Taco Bell... Man was I wrong! I haven’t even seen a crispy corn taco here in Oaxaca at all – not even in the supermarkets and if I ask a waiter for a burrito he’ll probably say to himself, “Crazy gringo wants a donkey!”
I found out the hard way that I, personally, should stay away from two things here in Oaxaca and that’s the chorizo and the chicharrón which translates to “sausage” and “fried pork rinds” the two greasiest foods that I have encountered. Needless to say that I avoid these at all cost but everything else is a go. I also recomend that you try to stay away from most food stands that you will find on the street. Some are clean, most are not. Yet if you must try street tacos, one of the most popular taco stands that I personally recommend is located on the corner of M. Bravo and Libres in the Historic Center. They are clean and the food is really good. If you’re looking to try the memelas or the empanadas, there are a few, really good street vendors around. One being on García Vigil between Allende and Quetzacoatl street by the Civil Registry. And the other ones are in the Llano Park. The empanada and memela stands are usually there only in the morning til the early afternoon and the taco stands are open in the evening til late night though the one I suggested is open for lunch as well. (Not sure how late it stays open though).
If you’re in Oaxaca you must try the famous mole, the estofado, the tamales, and the barbacoa de chivo, (especially in Tlacolula market on Sundays). And if you are really hardcore and want to taste THE Oaxacan delicacy.... pop one of those dried, chile and lemon covered grasshoppers in your mouth, commonly known as “Chapulines”. I must admit, I came close once or twice to trying it but I got as far as putting it in my mouth but was never able to swallow it. Eating insects is not high on my favorite things to do list though my son loves them :$
But if you want to try all of Oaxaca’s delicious traditional foods in one extremely clean and incredibly beautiful place, go to the Santa Marta Restaurant about 25 minutes outside the city Oaxaca off the highway going towards Mexico city. The restaurant is on approximately 3 acres of land with a great view of the valley from every outdoor table. They have an old twin engine plane that has been converted into a small movie theater for the kids, swings and slides, a small pond with paddle boats and much more but let me tell you about the food... Close your eyes and imagine an all you can eat buffet with 30 foot long tables literally filled with every kind of Oaxacan and international dish known to man. They have barbacue grills with meat galore - soups, rice, spaghuetti, 20 different kinds of salads and a dessert table that holds the promise of gaining at least 2 pounds before you leave. Now this may sound like a television commercial but believe me, I am not getting paid for promoting their restaurant. It is simply the best place to go for the best food in Oaxaca........ hands down. Go there and see. You’ll thank me later :)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arion Diaz runs the website OaxacaVideoGuide.com, raises his 9 year old son, meditates, draws, writes and gives private tours in Oaxaca, Mexico. If you´re coming down to Oaxaca for business or vacations, give him a call locally at 951-127-1454 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. See you soon:)