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Oaxaca Food Tour

Earth, Corn & Fire: Tasting the Roots of Oaxacan Cuisine

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On this food tour in Oaxaca, we’ll get an edible crash course on the ingredients and techniques that form the bedrock of traditional Oaxacan cooking, and meet the cooks and individuals that protect and honor these traditions.


We like to think of Oaxaca as the heartland of Mexican cooking. All those things that seem so classically and elementally Mexican – corn, chiles, moles, mezcal – can be traced back to the fertile area that surrounds this historic city. This is true about not just ingredients but cooking techniques as well. The use of smoke and fire to flavor food and of the comal – the large circular griddle that is essential for making tortillas – are all deeply connected with the Oaxaca region and its indigenous people.

Oaxaca plays another important role: that of a place where many of Mexico’s traditional ingredients and techniques are maintained and protected. Here, the seemingly simple act of growing a strain of heirloom corn is also a deeply political one, an earthy act of resistance against the forces of corporate agriculture that have pushed Mexican farmers in other parts of the country to change the way they work the land.

On this food tour in Oaxaca, we’ll get an edible crash course on the elements that are a bedrock of traditional Oaxacan cooking – as well as on how they are being safeguarded. We’ll go through neighborhood markets and visit home-based restaurants and the stalls of street vendors, stopping to taste some of Oaxaca’s most iconic dishes and street snacks, from memelas to eggs cooked on the comal. We’ll taste local corn in various forms and see how it’s transformed from kernel to tortilla, in the process learning about the key role it still plays in Oaxacan cuisine and culture. Along the way we’ll meet market vendors who have been holding steady for decades and even visit the gallery of a group of young artists who are doing their part to document local life. We’ll end our journey with a meal in a family-run market restaurant, sampling several different types of the city’s most famous creations, mole – a dish that, much like Oaxaca’s rich culinary heritage itself, is the result of numerous ingredients being lovingly and carefully mixed together.

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  • 2-7
  • 5.5 hours
  • Monday-Saturday 10am
  • Mercado de La Merced - Mercado 20 de Noviembre
  • Culinary Backstreets
    Price: Adults x $115


Some, but not all, stops can be altered for vegetarians. Can accommodate pescatarian, vegan and gluten-free diets. Pork is served, but can be substituted.


Easy and flat terrain. Includes market visits that can be crowded at times. Children welcome.
I went on Culinary Backstreet’s Earth, Corn & Fire tour with 3 friends and we all agreed it was one of the high points of our visit to Oaxaca.... Read more Read less
“Our guide was excellent. His passion for the food and culture of Oaxaca was evident. It was truly the highlight of our trip to Oaxaca.... Read more Read less
“We had the best day walking around beautiful Oaxaca with our guide learning about the culture and trying traditional food. We are visiting for our honeymoon and this is the highlight of our trip so far!... Read more Read less
Can you pick me up from my hotel? How will I return once the tour is over? Our tour prices don’t include transportation. If you book a tour, you’re responsible for arriving to the pre-arranged meeting spot on your own. Most Oaxaca hotels provide taxi services for guests, and it’s generally easy and convenient to use them. If you chose to have a private walk, the guide may be able to meet you at the hotel. Once the tour is over, we will help you get an authorized, safe taxi to your hotel, or provide directions on public transportation, if you’re interested in that.
Can vegetarians or vegans take this tour? Vegetarians, pescatarians definitely. Vegans will have a difficult time in Oaxaca, but we will do our best to accommodate. Our tours also work for anyone with cheese, nut and wheat allergies. Please let us what know your dietary restrictions in advance.
What should I wear? Comfortable, closed-toed shoes (no flip-flops please), pants, and shirts in layers — it can be cooler in the morning and warmer in the afternoon. Please bring an umbrella if you’re traveling in Oaxaca’s rainy season, from June-September.
How much walking is involved? Quite a bit. We want you to experience the most amount of food and culture possible, and while we are not actively walking the entire time, you will be required to walk from stop to stop. The entire walk is about 2.5km on fairly flat terrain but the sidewalks can be challenging. Some of the street stands we visit also do not have seating, so you will eat standing up.
How much food will I get to try? This is really up to you. We generally taste around six items on each tour, but the price includes as much food as you’re open to trying. We offer a suggested portion size at each stop and you can take our recommendation if you’d like. Our goal is to have you end the tour pleasantly stuffed, not so full you can barely walk. That said, everyone’s appetite is different and we welcome all varieties!
What if it rains? Our tours are conducted rain or shine.
Can I bring my children on this tour? Of course! We offer a 50% discount to children ages 12 and under, and we charge $25 for children 6 and younger.
What is your cancellation policy? 90% will be refunded if given 1 week notice prior to walk and 50% will be refunded if given 72 hours notice or more. Less than 72 hours is non-refundable.
What should I bring? We strongly recommend leaving passports, credit cards, jewelry and professional cameras at home and carrying only a small amount of cash with you as we will be paying for everything you consume. We also strongly recommend not wearing open-toed shoes, shorts or jewelry.
How are you dealing with health and safety on your walks? We have reinforced our commitment to safety with new guidelines and have altered our routes to assure the maximum safety of our guests, guides and community while maintaining the quality of the experience. For more details on our precautions, read here.

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Age 13+
Ages 7-12
Ages 6 & under
Earth, Corn & Fire: Tasting the Roots of Oaxacan Cuisine
Adults x $115
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk.
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