I'm in Oaxaca for the month of December on a kind of self-imposed writer's residency, eating as much street food as I can, and I already have several questions – really grateful for anyone's thoughts.
– I haven't dug into the comedores in Mercado 20th Nov. and Mercado de Abastos yet. They have such extensive menus – what should I order? On my first night here I got a chicken breast with mole negro – the sauce was great but the chicken and rice felt like a waste of stomach space. Also, how do you pick a good comedor? I always seem to get there after the rush so I can't just check which ones are busy.
– I've seen mole verde, mole negro and mole amarillo all over the place, but aren't there supposed to be seven? Where do I try the others? I know there are restaurants where you can get samplers, but I'm here on my own so I'm not planning to eat any sit-down dinners. Maybe one or two.
– Is there any system to the sizing of tacos between different stalls? When I order I can never tell if I'm going to get one of the canapé-sized tacos or one of the big folded-over wrap-style tacos. (I know that tacos arabes always means wrap-style, but I've also had carnitas etc. in the same format.)
– At a cart downtown I had some tacos de cabeza with a salsa that tasted remarkably like jerk sauce i.e. scotch bonnet peppers. Are there Mexican peppers that taste like scotch bonnets?
– The small, medium and large chapulines you see at some stalls – are they the same insect at different stages of development, or different insects? Is there a taste difference or is it just a texture thing?
– I've passed plenty of mezcalerias downtown – but they all look so generic – where should I go to get a really good local bottle?
If anyone's interested, the best things I've eaten so far are carnitas tacos at Mercado El Llano, tamales de mole negro from Tamales Mina, and self-assembly tacos from the carne asada hall at Mercado 20th Nov. And last night I had a hot chocolate from a tyaluda stall on the corner of Emiliano Zapata and Naval Militar that was better than MayorDomo. That was also my first taste of a local herb called chepiche.
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