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Chapulines Tacos in SF?

My favorite food-chaser blogger and flickr photostreamer Dave Cook (Eating in Translation) posted photographic evidence of chapulines (and chapulines and barbacoa) tacos in Corona, Queens. They are said to be Oaxacan, and seasonal. I haven't run across them here in SF, but maybe I just live a sheltered life.

http://flickr.com/photos/eatingintran...

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  1. They've been reported on several times in other parts of the greater SF Bay Area, but none so far in the City. In fact, I passed around a baggie of chapulines at a chowdown as an added amuse bouche. Anyone found them in San Francisco or are we running into the City's chow desert problem again?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Just up in Rohnert Park as far as I know

      1. re: kare_raisu

        That would be Carreno's in RP. Also found at Karina's in Petaluma and El Tule in San Jose. The new Oaxacan Kitchen is slated to open in Palo Alto but I'd be surprised if they had them, but who knows.

    2. hhc reported some in the South Bay ... I forget where.

      Let me remind everyone ... these are probably not local but smuggled in from Mexico. The are FULL of lead. Even the Mexican government is trying to discourage people from eating them locally.

      13 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        Yes, that would be El Tule, noted above.

        1. re: rworange

          How would one "smuggle" crickets, and why would one when there are much more lucrative things to smuggle if one wants to take the risk? Is there a shortage of crickets in the US? Anyway, kare raisu's report on Carrenos found the crickets to be "very fresh." Perhaps they were local.

          At my age lead is not a concern in any event. I probably absorbed as much or more environmental lead in my youth as any sexagenarian, even helping my father melt lead for sinkers (no, not donuts) in the furnace, and all calls for me to "get the lead out" fall on deaf ears.

          1. re: Xiao Yang

            Grasshoppers, not crickets. There are not the right type in the Bay Area, I guess. You might ask on the General Board about sourcing these in the US.

            I don't think any of these places are trying or even thinking they are smuggling them, really. It is just they can't find them locally and ask friends and family to bring them back when they visit Mexico.

            1. re: rworange

              As rw says they are grasshoppers not crickets. They may jump the same but the they sing a different tune.
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chapulines

              1. re: rworange

                You are right, they are obviously grasshoppers in the photos. I had just read kare raisu's post about Carrenos in Rohnert Park and the word "cricket" stuck in my head from it. Actually he said "I suspect the crickets were very fresh as the two sons had just returned from Oaxaca with their 'booty' the day previous." so I guess they were imported, "smuggled" or not.

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4255...

                When I was a kid I used to bike across the bridge to Canada and smuggle firecrackers back in my underpants. I'd hate to do that with the little jumpers, alive or dead.

                Crickettes source:

                http://www.hotlix.com/insect_candy/cr...

              2. re: Xiao Yang

                I'm not sure if our crickets are the wrong species or don't eat the right diet or people just don't know where to catch them, but the ones I've had were all smuggled in from Mexico.

                http://www.applications.dhs.ca.gov/pr...

                1. re: Xiao Yang

                  >At my age lead is not a concern in any event. I probably absorbed as much
                  >or more environmental lead in my youth ...
                  >
                  might explain some of your posts :-)

                2. re: rworange

                  We found them at El Oaxaqueno, 330 E. William St., San Jose 95112, 408-294-9388 - but I think that was a couple of years ago. Their business card says: "Queso Oaxaca, Quesillo, Mole Rojo y Negro, Chapulines, Tortillas (Tlayudas), Chocolate, Chorizo Cesina Tasajo, Mezcal de Gusanito, Pan de Yema.... Haven't been in that area in a while so don't know if they're still there...

                  1. re: RWCFoodie

                    Is that a market or a restuarant? I'm looking for ready-made tacos, not really interested in cooking them myself.

                    1. re: Xiao Yang

                      Alas, it is (or was) a small store - there was no prepared food there the day we stopped - the tlayudas were just stacked up on shelves in a glass-fronted book case - I had absolutely no idea what they were.

                    2. re: RWCFoodie

                      I just called them and it seems that they are still open. Do you know if they carried hoja santa or any oaxacan chiles (i.e. chihuacle negro or rojo, pasilla oaxaqueno)?

                    3. re: rworange

                      Sorry that is not necessarily true... some batches of Chapulines have lead (last time I read something about this it seemed about 20% of batches tested in Oaxaca were contaminated)... once a year will definitely not hurt you.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        I gotta comment on the lead and chapulines connection since I'm the epidemiologist behind the alerts in Calif and am investigating the lead contamination in chapulines and other foods imported from Oaxaca. I want to find out what the source is so everyone can go back to eating this nutritious snack food!

                        re the extent of the problem- not clear, many chapulin samples have high lead, others none, and there is no sure fire way to tell which do and dont. We found severe lead poisoning in Bay Area residents who ate chapulines and other imported foods from some parts of Oaxaca, and none in others with the same tastes.

                        There is likely both a cooking method used in some regions that is releasing lots of lead into the foods (and not just chapulines) and also contamination from areas where chapulines are harvested. We're studying that with residents in Oaxaca. I wont get preachy about lead, but please dont eat these foods if you are pregnant or let young kids eat them - developing brains are most at risk....

                        links to the investigation below:

                        http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/short...
                        http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/con...