Oaxaca is a special place. The food culture is among the finest in the world. There are a lot of ingredients that aren’t commonly seen outside of Oaxaca. A lot of attention is paid to the varietals of corn and chiles that are cultivated in Oaxaca. I found the seafood to be pretty exciting as well. I had the opportunity to try calle de almeja clams and have treasured the experience ever since.
Before traveling to Oaxaca I was watching every video I could find on the regional foods and places to surf. It turns out that the coast has some interesting culinary experiences as well.
I found a video of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern from his first season when he visits Mexico. It was originally published in 2007 and he looks like a little kid.
Anyway, Andrew spent some time in Oaxaca eating shellfish on the beach that he describes as, “The envy of even the best 5-star eateries.” These types of shells are not available at many restaurants. The best way to experience these treats is at the beach.
So after watching Andrew Zimmern dive into a plate of exotic shellfish I wanted to do the same.
We took the tour of the bays and the boat drops you off at a tourist trap selling breaded and fried commodity seafood. I decided to take a walk up the beach thinking about that video of Andrew Zimmern eating those shellfish. I didn’t see anybody or anything but was dreaming about that experience.
As I get to the end of the beach I see a plastic table that looks like it is used to prepare food. Then I notice an inflatable innertube 50 meters off the beach. A driver breaches the surface, drops something into the innertube, takes a breath, and dives back down to the bottom.
I had to hang out for a while before he came back to the shore and showed me what he had found.
I have eaten plenty of oysters and clams in my time but I had never seen any of the species that he shucked on that plastic table.
I am still not sure what they scientific name is but locally they called it a callo de almeja. They are bivalve mollusks like a clam or small scallops but I have never seen this coloring before. The edge of the mantle has this crazy yellow and black striping that makes it look like a sea snake.
In Mulege, Baja California Sur they call this mollusk an almeja burra. Andrew Zimmern calls this mollusk an abalone. Whatever you call it, it is delicious and unique.
Oaxaca has a lot of unique culinary experiences and this is one experience that I will not soon forget.
I am putting together a collection of my favorite culinary experiences in Mexico and this is a part of the best seafood in Mexico section. I am excited to show you what is next.