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Vitamina T: Mexican-Style Grasshopper Tacos at Guelaguetza
Even more delicious than Taco Tuesday, our weekly segment showcases the best doses of Vitamina T, or vitamin T, Mexico’s street slang for the most coveted comfort foods that begin with the letter T. This would have been great on Sesame Street, but we beat them to the punch—here’s this week’s taste of vitamin T from the streets of L.A.
Since a 2008 world congress in Chiang Mai, Thailand, the United Nations has been promoting the 1,400 recognized types of edible bugs as an affordable solution to help end hunger, and to combat the skyrocketing consumption of beef that is taking a huge toll on our health and the environment in the form of heart disease and deforestation. Insect eating—aka entomophagy—is the way of the future says the U.N., and the future is looking bright. (Annnnd squirmy.)
One of the most prestigious Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, Guelaguetza, founded by Fernando Lopez Sr. from Santiago Matatlan, Oaxaca in 1994, serves some of the best Oaxacan cuisine in “Oaxacalifornia” (one of my favorite nicknames for L.A.) and has exceptional grasshoppers, called chapulines. The Lopez family sources the most corpulent specimens I’ve seen around here, and their flavor brings big, bold, saltish notes of crustaceans (land shrimp!), dry grass, and an umami quality that’s matched with a pleasing crunch.
You can have the chapulines fried up as a snack, Oaxacan bar style, but better to go all in and order the chapulines a la mexicana, a guisado-style stew of sautéed grasshoppers, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions. A generous helping of Oaxacan string cheese (quesillo), a few wedges of lime, and a fan-cut half of avocado add symmetry to this Oaxacan hash. Arrange the proportions to your liking on a handmade corn tortilla, and sit back and enjoy a sustainable protein snack that doubles as a pre-Hispanic delicacy.
Grab some of these tasty critters to go with some tortillas, make your own fresh guacamole and salsa—you’re an Angeleno, you got this—and continue the edible extermination at home.
Guelaguetza, 3014 W. Olympic Blvd., Koreatown, ILoveMole.com