People call us San Fransustainable for a reason (not really, but still). In the last two weeks, San Francisco has housed The Sustainable Food Summit, baptized the first ever Good Food Awards into SF foodie culture, and christened mid-January to mid-February "Good Food Month." The message is a back-to-roots, DIY approach to food. The idea: if you're thinking outside your kitchen, you're not thinking local enough.
Which is where San Francisco could learn a thing or two from one of the earliest sustainable cuisines: chapulines, or grasshoppers. Coming to us way of Oaxaca and the southernmost part of Mexico, chapulines are about as sustainable as it gets. Often doused in chile and lime and quickly fried, you'll quickly forget that to eat a chapuline is to eat an exoskeleton. Feels like popcorn.
While you could start your own grasshopper farm with little else than the Adam and Eve of your future culinary delights, get yourself to La Oaxaquena first and see how it's really done. The grasshopper tacos are a highlight -- a wondrous, homage to sustainable eating. Crispy and spiced to keep the rounds of water coming, these tacos are a light and wholesome meal that double in making you feel like a badass. The only downside: the owners import their grasshoppers from Mexico, which may leave finicky foodies longing for locally sourced bugs.
When asked if San Franciscans lean more towards their four-legged menu options, affable lunchtime host Harry Persaud laughs and insists that La Oaxaquena's grasshopper tacos are “quite popular” and “people are willing to try them.” If you haven't jumped on the insect bandwagon, consider at least a “no thank you bite” in honor of Good Food Month. Come on, San Francisco. Put your money where your month is.
La Oaxaquena is located at 2128 Mission St., between 17th and Clarion Alley. For more information about insects and sustainable eating, check out www.insectsarefood.com.
(by Renée Grelecki)