A couple of friends just got back from a visit to Oaxaca, México and were kind enough to bring back some chícalas for me to taste. Chícalas are large black ants that have been toasted on a grill or in a frying pan. I thought you might want to see a close-up view.
Besides these ants, there are some other insects that are commonly eaten in various parts of Mexico.
Escamoles are ant lavae or eggs that are used to prepare different dishes. Seasonal and hard-to-find escamoles can go for as high as $30 to $50 a pound, and can be thought of as similar to caviar. This is on my list of things to do, and the next time I get a chance, I’m going to have to try escamoles.
Maguey worms Gusanos de maguey (chinicuiles) are edible caterpillars that live in the maguey and agave plants. They are considered a delicacy and are often eaten raw, toasted or crushed in a spicy red salsa. That spicy red salsa is pretty good by the way.
A chapulín is a big grasshopper. You can eat a handful as a snack or enjoy then combined with other foods. The word chapulín comes from the indigenous náuatl language. Of course, grasshoppers are known as saltamontes or saltones in other areas. Chapulines are toasted similar to chícalas. You can get a little bag of them for about $1.50, so next time you’re in Mexico, you have no excuses.
After all this talk, aren’t you getting hungry?
And if you think you have an aversion to eating insects, think about honey. It’s really just nectar from flowers that bees ingest and regurgitate a couple of times and then store it in a half-digested state. ¿No te encanta la entomofagia?