One of the best things about living here in Oaxaca is the incredible street food. Every evening as the city starts to wind down, small, portable food stands appear on the streets. Quesadillas and empanadas are common fare, but the real king of Oaxacan street food is the Tlayuda.
A tlayuda is a large corn tortilla, traditionally made by women in the Central Valleys of Oaxaca. They can be up to 40 centimetres in diameter and have a slightly different taste and texture to other types of tortillas. If you want to buy plain tlayudas you can find them in every market in town, but if you want yours topped and ready to eat, then head to the streets.
Tlayudas are usually cooked outdoors on a clay griddle called a comal, or on a wire rack placed directly on the coals in an anafre, a small clay oven.
Last week we went to San Andres Zautla, a small pueblo about 40 minutes outside of Oaxaca, where our friend Blanca showed us how to make a basic tlayuda.
The first step in preparing a traditional tlayuda is to spread a small amount of asiento, or pork lard, across the base. This is followed by a generous amount of frijoles, and then either a sprinkling of the crumbly queso fresco, or lengths of quesillo, the famous Oaxacan string cheese. A sencilla tlayuda (simple tlayuda) can also include avocado, tomato or shredded lettuce.
There are usually three choices of meat: tasajo (thin pieces of beef), cecina (pork), or chorizo.
When cooked, tlayudas should be slightly hard and crispy but still maintain some flexibility. Sometimes served flat and with the toppings on top, it’s most common for them to be folded in half with the fillings inside. Make sure you don’t forget to add your favorite salsa!
Tlayudas aren’t only available on the streets though. Many comedores – or small restaurants – offer them as part of the standard menu and you can also find them in some of the best restaurants in town. One of my favorites, La Biznaga, has an amazing tlayuda with chorizo and goats cheese and Las Danzantes offers a tlayuda with shrimp!
Whichever version you like, it’s an essential part of any trip to Oaxaca.