Monday, February 12, 2007

Empanadas de Chapulines

If you use a translator to translate chapulines, you may get no results (chapuline is an Aztec word, used only in Mexico.) If, however, you look up chapulines on Wikipedia, you'll learn that chapulines are grasshoppers . You'll learn that they only come from certain parts of Mexico, most commonly the Oaxacan city and state, and that they are only collected at certain times of the year. I'd get my fill of chapulines on Saturday night at one of my favorite Mexican restaurants.

This past weekend J and I went to dinner at Tu y Yo with our friends MJ and John. This restaurant calls itself an authentic Mexican restaurant making family recipes from the past 100 years. I do want to tell you how great the food and drink is here, but this post is about something, we'll say unusual, that's on the menu - empanadas de chapulines. Yes, grasshopper empanadas.

I wish I had a better picture to share but all I had was my Q. That and I'm still not comfortable taking pictures of my food in a restaurant, not to mention J hates the attention that she thinks it draws to our table. Don't worry, I'd never use the flash! So in lieu of a good picture, I'll tell you that the empanada was soft and doughy, maybe slightly undercooked. The green sauce on the side is an avocado sauce, I think. The sauce was very mild, not contributing much to the flavor experience of the empanada, and an experience it certainly was.

J wanted nothing to do with the chapulines, neither did our friend MJ. MJ's husband John, however, was up for the experience. I took my first bite and noted the very earthy flavors of the chapulines. The empanada dough was pretty tasty, the chapulines, like nothing I've tasted before. I could see all the little legs of the insect inside the dough, a deep, dark reddish brown. When asked by others what it tasted like, I replied, "I guess it tastes like what I'd expect a bug to taste like." It wasn't bad at all, but there was nothing in it that I recognized. There were no flavors bursting out from within the doughy exterior that said, "Wow! This is great," or "Ecchh, this is gross."

I'm glad I tried them. I'm always willing to try something new with the hope that I'll find a new favorite food. Let's just say that next time I'm at Tu y Yo, I'll skip the grasshopper and go for the frog legs instead, listed under seafood by the way.

Tu y Yo
858 Broadway
Somerville, MA 02144
Ph (617) 623-5411

Visit Wikipedia for a nice picture of the chapulines.

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