Viscose but Tasty: The Insects we Love to Eat
by Monica Belen
Toasted, sweet, salty - a mixture of walnut and hazelnut fills your nose, warmed, your palate begins to salivate as a plate arrives brimming with what you smelled that opened your voracious appetite. You se, its color is reddish, almost charred. You serve yourself a spoonful of that accompanied by a good spicy guacamole sauce. Inside the tortilla, yes, that round cooked corn dough that surrounds a delirious pleasure, you take a bite out of that spectacular taco. It creaks! Again, and again, you bite, you devour that delicacy, its flavor is unmatched, its crunch melts in your mouth and you ask for more and more. The second dish arrives, hot, almost boiling, it smells of butter and spices. You take a spoonful and devour its contents, the flavor juices are incomparable, delicious, exquisite, a delicacy worthy of the gods. And then, you ask: what is this delight? A proud voice resounds: toasted crickets (chapulines) and butter ant eggs (escamoles). You cannot believe it. But it is like this. Crispy, slimy but tasty.
In Mexico, there are more than 549 species of edible insects of the 1,681 registered worldwide; it is one of the richest countries in it. The tradition of eating insects dates to pre-Hispanic times (2500 BC-1521 AD); they are a source of food high in protein and low in fat, in addition to having vitamins and minerals in abundance. Eating them is currently considered an expensive and very exclusive delicacy. Here we explore some of the richest edible insects that you can find and eat:
ESCAMOLES, the famous Mexican caviar, are scale ant eggs. One of the five species of edible ants, they are regularly prepared in butter. Their collection is very arduous since they are only found in the months of March and April. One kilo of this food costs between 1200 and 2000 pesos (60-100 dlls). They are collected in the center of the country in the states of Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Querétaro and the state of Mexico.
CHAPULINES, delicious and crunchy, are wild grasshoppers that are roasted in a comal (type of frying pan without a handle) with a little salt and sometimes oil. They are served as a pre-meal snack, and no, do not worry, they will not jump on your plate. They are collected in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas, among others. Ah! Do not forget to accompany them with chili powder and lemon.
MAGUEY Worms, there are two types, white and pink, the latter are better known as CHINICUILES. They live in the leaves of the maguey andare abundant. They are also used as an ornament in some Tequila bottles. When drying and pulverizing them, you get the worm salt which is used to accompany mezcal (traditional Mexican brandy from Oaxaca) but we will talk about that later. The whites measure two to three inches, and are a little slippery. These animals live in the roots of the maguey (the agave where a very precious alcoholic beverage called pulque is extracted) per plant only four to five worms can be extracted and this implies the death of the maguey because the root is dug up and scraped to extract them. This makes them expensive; their taste is sweet and they are eaten fried. The price per kilo ranges from 1,000 to 2,500 pesos (50-125 dlls).
JUMILES are delicious mountain bugs that are sold alive in the street markets (TIANGUIS) of the states of Morelos and Guerrero. In this state, the Day of Jumil is celebrated in November. This is how famous these very inexpensive and tasty creatures are: they are eaten with toast, accompanied by a rich spicy sauce.
CHICATAN ANT, rich and dangerous, as these ants are defined, are found in the state of Hidalgo, in the center of the country. Their collection is carried out with great care because they are equipped with powerful pliers that when pressing their captor cause terrible pain, - in contrast to their delicious taste.
I hope your appetite has been whetted! Remember, they are low in calories and high in protein, the perfect complement to keep you healthy and well-fed.