Mexico – The Top 5 Edible Insects

by Paul Cardwell on July 28, 2013

Chapulines Fried Grasshoppers Mexico

A dish of Mexico's highly popular chapulines (fried grasshoppers)
photo by Wendy Connett/Alamy

How about kicking off the day with a breakfast of fried grasshoppers, stink bugs, honey ants, Maguey white worms, and small water bug eggs, perhaps washed down with some mezcal? After a start like that, the day can only get better we think!

The consumption of insects as food, or entomophagy, is common in  Mexico, has been since pre-Hispanic times, and is becoming increasingly popular. In fact, as a Guardian article graphically puts it:-

..bugs have crawled on to the menus of some of the country’s most celebrated eateries in recent years, as top chefs seek out esoteric regional ingredients for cuisine known as alta mexicana (high-end Mexican).

Puertovallarta.net informs us that, according to researcher Julieta Ramos-Elorduy, of the 3,169 edible insect species that are recorded worldwide, 457 (almost 15%) are eaten in Mexico. Insects are eaten as a snack, in a taco or as a juicy meat stew with vegetables, chili and herbs. They can also be eaten alive, as Puertovallarta.net also reports:-

Other insects are eaten alive, jumiles a variety if oak tree insects and the delicious honey ants or necuazcatl (by its Aztec name), that miraculously carry a small drop of honey within their bodies. Larvae of dragonflies, wasps, and water bugs, also known ahuauhtli, like that of the black ants, called azcatlmolli or escamoles are also eaten.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has studied and recognized the importance of insect eating, and released a report this year highlighting the benefits. They have even created a webportal, devoted to edible insects, that includes an app version of the report for reading on smartphones. According to the FAO, over 2 billion people around the world eat insects, and these are highly nutritious, containing more protein than pork or beef.

The most expensive insects are chicatanas, or giant flying ants, that come out with the rains in the middle of the year. They can fetch up to $500/kilo in markets like San Juan, Mexico City, as they’re considered a real delicacy as a salsa (sauce), particularly in Oaxaca.

San Juan Food Market, Mexico City

San Juan Food Market, Mexico City

In Oaxaca people really like to eat salsa of chicatana. After the ants are collected they are washed and grilled on a comal, a metal or clay dish, in this first step they lose their wings. Then chicatanas are ground in the molcajete as if were guacamole. After that, garlic, salt and chili are added and everything is ground until getting a consistent salsa. (ExploringOaxaca.com)

You may be thinking, this insect eating may happen in other countries, but not where I live. Are you sure? When researching this article we came across this advert:-
amazon-ad

And the same exists on amazon.com. So you may even have neighbours quietly scoffing stink bugs under your nose. Whatever, next time you travel and think of eating locally, spread your wings a little bit further….

[Latin Discover will happily arrange insect tasting on your next trip to Mexico. Let us know!]

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mauricio July 31, 2013 at 4:08 am

This is incredible yet edible! munching down on insects could be the new thing, which has been around in Asia for many many years, and is now moving to the Americas, watch out…. your next pincho instead of meat maybe a cockroach pincho
(cuca-Pincho)

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