The first rains of June bring humidity to the thirsty land after a long drought and a few days of recreation to the families who get ready to capture the "chicatana" ants, highly prized flying insects in Oaxacan gastronomy. flying insects highly prized in Oaxacan gastronomy.

The presence of the flying ants takes only a couple of days a year, so their market value is quoted at over 1,500 pesos per kilogram in the regions of the Coast and Valley of Oaxaca. Like the grasshoppers, they can be prepared in sauce or as the main ingredient of a stew, but the most common are roasted on the griddle seasoned with chili salt and lemon, to be enjoyed as a snack.

Angustia Torres Díaz, from the community of José María Morelos, in Santa María Huazolotitlán, comments that as in the indigenous communities in this Afro-Mexican town on the coast of Oaxaca, the "chicatanas" are part of the dishes typical of the month of June.

"In the coastal region it is customary to stew them in sauce or as the main ingredient in mole tamales".

They can be obtained in 50-gram bags for 70 pesos, but "in my family, we prefer to capture them at dawn or in the afternoon, when they fall from the sky to concentrate around the reflection of the water puddles near the public lighting poles or the light bulb of the house".

The most valued ants in Oaxaca, Chicatanas.
The Chicatana ants, the most prized ants in Oaxaca. Image: Oro Radio

After they "fell" easily on a tray of water with salt (a kind of trap devised by the popular inventiveness), they roast them on a hot comal, moving them gently. During this time, the wings and head fall off, leaving only the body. "That's what we eat because the body is the tastiest part," she says.

At the moment of chewing "the roasted chicatanas" they are crunchy, a complex flavor to define for unaccustomed palates, although, for a great part of the Oaxacan population it is an insect long-awaited in their kitchen. According to the people fond of this food, among the properties provided by flying insects is the low level of saturated fats, high nutritional value, as well as proteins.

Source: Oro Radio