Variety of edible insects in Mexico is wide and delicious

While the consumption of insects is not exclusive to Mexico, the variety of these edible animals here is wide and delicious, as Chef Omar Diaz of Los Danzantes explains.

Variety of edible insects in Mexico is wide and delicious. Rice with bugs at the Los Danzantes restaurant.
Variety of edible insects in Mexico is wide and delicious. Rice with bugs at the Los Danzantes restaurant.

True, Mexico is not the only country in which insects serve as food, but because of its great variety of edible bugs Mexico occupies an important place in terms of this practice in the world, at a time when there is talk of entomophagy (consumption of insects) as an important food option in the present and future for the entire planet.

"The practice of eating insects in our country is very old, it was recorded in the Florentine Codex by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún in the 16th century. The Codex describes more than 96 species of insects that were part of the Mesoamerican diet," explains a statement from Los Danzantes restaurant, which for 22 years has been offering its diners a month of Bichos Season to bring them closer to this ancestral tradition.

"For example, with escamoles, people collect them, but they don't kill the nest. Well, that's the good collectors, the ones who are very committed. It is something that is inherited, from grandfather to father, from father to son, so the people who dedicate themselves to this (...) know that with the technique that they do the following year or two years later in the same nest they will find more eggs (...) it is a titanic task, the truth".

"I am very fond of the chinicuil, which is the little red worm, which lives in the lower part of the kiwifruit, mainly obtained from the pulquero kiwifruit because it is an extremely characteristic taste".

Mexico has a great variety of edible (insect) species, 549 of the existing 2000 are native and are found mainly in the central, southern and southeastern states of the country. Among the best-known species are escamoles, maguey worms, chicatana ants, chapulines, jumiles, and chinicuiles, among others.

In recent years interest in curious gastronomy has increased, so that, from about 20 years to date, the consumption of insects in our country has intensified.

"In this search for unusual ingredients we discover a great fascination for insects, and if we look back at the protein part, the healthy part, we realize that it is a very balanced food, very balanced. So it has increased (consumption) from 20 years ago, but perhaps it has decreased from 100 years ago," he explains.

The prices of insects are still not accessible to the general public, acknowledges Chef Díaz, largely because the task of collecting insects is, in many cases, a complex one, which except in the case of snails, is done in wild spaces. Although he believes that greater consumption could lead to improved collection techniques and then this food could become popular.

However, he invites visitors to live the experience of tasting insects for the unique flavors and textures that can be found in them and that combine perfectly in recipes such as those offered at Los Danzantes in May and June: rice with bugs (wild and white rice, sautéed with tomatoes, snails, escamoles, chapulines and maguey worms); mole of flowers (mole of begonia and vinegar leaf, with chapulines, snails, golumbos, maguey worms and chicatana ants) and ice cream of cream and worm salt (artisan ice cream made with fresh cream, mezcal of worm salt and chiltepín chile), to name a few.

A consumption that reconnects us with the most ancient customs and should make one feel proud of what the Mexican land has to offer.

SUSTAINABLE

Insects use much less water than traditional livestock. Flourworms, for example, are more resistant to drought than livestock.

By Mexicanist Source El Sol de Mexico