Oaxaca has some fantastic street food, and most people living here have a favourite meal and or snack, and street cart from which to buy it. Street food vendors all have their own designated area – important so there are no disputes, and doubly important so you can easily find your preferred vendor.
Elotes (e-lot-tays) and esquites (es-key-tays) are essentially corn combined with various other flavours.
This functional description however undermines their deliciousness. Think corn kernels, charred and smoky-sweet, combined with salty cheese, a hit of chilli and the tang of lime. Hungry?
Corn (a less sweet version than we know) is barbecued over hot coals. Then vendors will ask you your preferences for toppings. Traditionally the corn cob is then driven into a stick, and slathered in mayonnaise. Finely grated cheese is patted to the surface, and then sprinkled with powered chili to your taste. To finish, a lime is squeezed over the top before it is given to you with a couple of paper serviettes so you can eat it as you walk.
Esquites have the same recipe, however the corn is cut off the cob after barbecuing, and then placed into a paper cup and then all the other condiments added. You eat esquites with a spoon and the best mixtures are a little runny so you get all the different tastes combined in every spoonful.
The cost of a elote or esquite is 12 pesos, so a good deal for when you are out and about, and that pang of hunger hits. Wandering around central Oaxaca, it is not uncommon to see couples, families and tourists alike walking along the central city streets with elotes in hand as they watch the ubiquitous entertainment.
Ok, gotta go, I am getting hungry!
Written by Jodi Fleming
Jodi has been volunteering for several months at En Via – you may meet her leading a tour to visit our women borrowers in the different communities surrounding Oaxaca