Grasshoppers a Specialty at Phoenix Restaurant

Grasshoppers a Specialty at Phoenix Restaurant

Food & Drink

Grasshoppers a Specialty at Phoenix Restaurant

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By Cari Martens

The most authentic food at the Mini Mercado Oaxaca Mexican restaurant in Phoenix, Ariz., are the chapulines— crispy fried grasshoppers enjoyed in a corn tortilla with salt, lemon and perhaps a bit of salsa. According to the story by Daniel González in the The Arizona Republic, they taste nothing like
chicken.

The chapulines are in season in the summer and are a popular choice of the restaurant’s Hispanic customers, especially those from Oaxaca area of Mexico, where they are considered a delicacy. There they are sold in plastic bags in open-air markets and munched on like beer nuts in bars (gives a whole new meaning to ‘bar hopping’).

In the past 20 years or so, more immigrants from the far southern Mexican states such as Oaxaca have immigrated to Arizona, bringing elements of their culture and cuisine across the border with them.

Chapulines are also served in a few restaurants in Los Angeles, which has a sizable Oaxacan population, but the Mini Mercado Oaxaca is thought to be the only Arizona restaurants to serve the insects. They’re not on the menu—you have to ask for them. A plateful of chapulines—enough for four people to share—sells for $7. ‘It’s like an appetizer,’ says restaurant owner Jorge Lopez, quoted in González’s article. Hmmm, should I order the cheese sticks or the ‘hoppers?

Cooked crispy in garlic and lemon, the chapulines are said to have a kind of grassy flavor. One customer said the little ones taste something like shrimp.

Who knows, with the growing Hispanic population in the U.S., we may see chapulines popping up on more American menus…some day.

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