A Chiapas Feast for the Senses (and Faint of Heart)

Spice up your Chiapas trip with fiery flavors, unconventional eats, and crunchy “nucú ant” adventures. This southern Mexican state offers ancient tastes like smoky mole and frothy pozol, alongside modern delights like Chinese stir-fries and melt-in-your-mouth ham.

A Chiapas Feast for the Senses (and Faint of Heart)
Savor the legacy of Mayan cuisine, from the complex mole to the comforting warmth of tamales.

Chiapas, snuggled in the heart of southern Mexico, is a culinary wonderland where food bursts with vibrant flavors, ancient traditions, and a touch of arbitrary charm. Here, eating isn't just nourishment; it's a celebration of life, loss, and everything in between.

Death Warms You with Mole, Prayers with Herbs: Imagine a wake where mourners gather, not with somber faces and stale crackers, but around steaming bowls of rich, complex mole, the aroma filling the air with a bittersweet comfort. In Chiapas, even death gets a delicious send-off. And life? Well, life is savored in every bite, from the fragrant chipilín herb-infused tamales offered during prayers to the iguana tamales (yes, you read that right!) that tempt adventurous palates.

Beyond the Tortilla Curtain: But Chiapas is more than just tamale fillings. It's a land of culinary contrasts, where Ocosingo ball cheeses, plump and creamy, melt on your tongue, and pozol, a frothy corn and cocoa concoction, cools you down on a sweltering day. Each region boasts its own signature dish, a delicious ode to local identity. In Tapachula, it's the Chinese influence that shines through in their unique stir-fries, while San Cristóbal's claim to fame is its melt-in-your-mouth ham. And in Comitán? Forget the dainty finger sandwiches; their butifarra, a hefty pork sausage, is built for bold appetites.

Drink Up, Chiapas Style: Wash it all down with a tascalate, the official liquid of Chiapas. This pre-Hispanic powerhouse drink, made with roasted corn, cocoa, and a touch of magic (ahem, cinnamon and achiote), is more than just a beverage; it's a cultural touchstone, passed down through generations like a secret handshake. And if you're feeling fancy, try a pozol, a frothy corn and cocoa drink that's as nourishing as it is refreshing.

Bready Delights: But Chiapas isn't all about savory. When it comes to bread, they've got a sweet tooth the size of the Grand Canyon. From the cazuleja, a party-ready brioche studded with raisins, nuts, and coconut, to the marquesote, a humble yet heavenly loaf baked in a tin can, their breads are a testament to their love of tradition and, of course, sugar.

Sweet Endings: And no meal is complete without a little something sweet. Chiapas' village fairs are a candy wonderland, where you can stock up on sweet potato and quince sweets, served in tiny wooden boxes with lids that double as spoons. Don't miss the sigh, a cassava-based pudding that's as light and airy as a sigh itself. And for a taste of Mayan history, try the pucxinú, a corn and honey concoction that's as ancient as the pyramids themselves.

P.S. Don't forget to try the nucú ants. They're a local delicacy, and hey, when in Chiapas, do as the Chiapanecos do! And that includes diving headfirst into the crunchy, umami-rich world of nucú ants. These winged wonders, also known as flying ants or zompopos, are a seasonal delicacy that emerges at the start of the rainy season, heralding their arrival with a fluttering frenzy that turns kitchens into ant-catching hubs.

Sure, they might look like something straight out of an alien invasion, but trust me, these little guys are a taste sensation waiting to happen. Roasted over a low flame until their exoskeletons crackle and turn a toasty brown, they develop a nutty, meaty flavor that's oddly addictive. Sprinkle them on tacos, toss them into guacamole, or simply pop them like popcorn (minus the buttery guilt). Just be warned, once you start, it's difficult to stop. But before you go full-on Ant-Man, here's a friendly heads-on note:

  • Not all nucú ants are created equal. Avoid the winged ones, as they're still carrying their reproductive equipment (not exactly appetizing). Stick to the plump, wingless queens – they're the tastiest of the bunch.
  • Start small. If you're a newbie, don't go shoveling handfuls of nucú into your mouth. Take a few at a time, savor the flavor, and let your taste buds adjust to the unique experience.
  • Embrace the crunch. Don't expect a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Nucú ants are all about the satisfying crunch, which some liken to toasted sunflower seeds. Just imagine tiny flavor bombs exploding in your mouth with every bite.


  • Did you know some Chiapaneco tamales are filled with iguana? Don't knock it until you try it! (Although, maybe try the chicken ones first.)
  • There's a bread here called “cazueleja” that's basically a party in your mouth. Eggs, raisins, nuts, coconut – it's like a tropical fruitcake on steroids.
  • Forget kale smoothies, Chiapas has tascalate. This drink is packed with protein, carbs, and enough antioxidants to make you glow like a bioluminescent beetle.

Remember, it's all about embracing the adventure, the cultural experience, and the undeniable deliciousness of something a little different. And hey, if you don't love them, at least you can say you've tried a true Chiapas delicacy.