Street Food: Elotes & Esquites
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 basically corn with toppings. This functional description however belies their deliciousness. Think corn kernels, charcoal-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 charcoals until the kernels are slightly charred. Then vendors will ask you your preferences for toppings. Traditionally the corn cob is then driven into a stick, (making it an elote) 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 mop up as you eat it on the move.
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. During festivals in central Oaxaca, it is not uncommon to see entire families walking along with elotes in hand as they wander the central city area. Elote carts are definitely part of daily life here and any scheduled (or impromptu) entertainment in Oaxaca.
Gotta go, I am getting hungry.