Afromexicano cuisine is Mexico’s most underrated, says Bill Esparza

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Caldo de hueso con machuco was one of many Afromexicano dishes served to Bill Esparza on his trip to the Costa Chica. Photo by Arturo Santos for Eater.

“Blacks have been erased in a way that is really unimaginable here in the United States,” says food journalist Bill Esparza. Not recognized by Mexico’s constitution until 2020, Esparza calls Afromexicano cuisine the most underrated in the country. The largest concentration of Afromexicanos are in Costa Chica between Oaxaca and Guerrero. 

Using spices from the old world along with indigenous ingredients to make moles for which the region is known, Afromexicano cuisine is abundant in seafood. A whole steer is used for a stewed barbacoa and slathered in adobo, covered in banana leaves, and cooked over an open fire. Esparza asserts that it is unlike any other barbacoa, as a whole animal is used in the stock. Worthy of any spread in a culinary magazine, Ezparza’s coverage is available on Eater. 

Doña Concha serves tortillas, rice, cheese, and chequiles to local workers. Photo by Arturo Santos for Eater.

While reporting for his piece for Eater, Bill Esparza stumbled upon a local birthday celebration with barbacoa in the Collantes community. Photo by Arturo Santos for Eater.

Chanoco holds his traditional Afromexicano diablo mask. Photo by Arturo Santos for Eater.

Barbacoa de res with spaguetti and salsa verde feeds an entire town. Photo by Arturo Santos for Eater.