Frogs may not be everyone's first choice when it comes to food, but in traditional Mexican cuisine, they are a highly valued and delicious delicacy. They have been an essential part of Mexican gastronomy since pre-Hispanic times, and they continue to be popular in various regions of the country.
Types of Frogs in Mexico
One of the most common types of frogs in Mexico is the leopard frog, also known as the green frog. They are relatively small, typically not exceeding 20 centimeters in length, and are abundant in the Toluca Valley, although they also live in other areas of the country. During the rainy season, they reproduce in large numbers, and at night, they can often be found on the roads, where horses sometimes crush them with their legs. Frogs prefer humid environments, but they occasionally leave the water to walk on the ground.
Frog Reproduction and Use in Pre-Hispanic Cuisine
Frogs reproduce by laying eggs on the surface of the water, and from there, tadpoles are born. Tadpoles are larvae with tails that quickly undergo a metamorphosis, losing their tails and growing legs and heads. In pre-Hispanic times, tadpoles were also a food source, but it is no longer consumed widely.
Scholars claim that they were prepared fried with onion, green chili, and epazote in Tulancingo, Hidalgo State. Tadpoles were also eaten roasted, wrapped in corn husks, or mixtote, and they were sometimes mixed with ajolotes, acociles, or charales.
Frogs were eaten extensively in the valleys of Mexico and Toluca because of their high nutritional value and their delicate, easily digestible white meat. Bullfrogs, which are slightly larger and have a croak that resembles the mooing of a bull, are consumed in some regions of Mexico and other countries, and only their legs are used. However, in the State of Mexico, the frogs are prepared whole, minus the entrails.
How to Prepare Frogs in Traditional Mexican Cuisine
There are several traditional Mexican recipes for preparing frogs, such as tamales and mextlapiques. These recipes have been passed down from generation to generation and continue to be enjoyed by locals. Frogs can be cooked in different sauces, including pipianes, broth, garlic sauce, and breaded. One of the most popular ways to cook them is in green sauce, a recipe that has been passed down through many Mexican families.
Where to Find Frogs in Mexico
The Zumpango market has gained fame for selling frogs, and they can also be found in the surrounding areas of lake regions in the Toluca Valley. In Santiago Tianguistengo, they are only sold on Tuesdays in September.
The Cultural Significance of Frogs in Mexican Literature
Frogs have not only been a significant part of Mexican cuisine, but they have also played a role in Mexican literature. The famous Mexican writer Juan Rulfo wrote a story called "Macario," in which he describes a young boy sitting by a sewer waiting for frogs to come out. He beats them with a board to catch them, highlighting the cultural significance of frogs in Mexican culture.
In conclusion, frogs may not be a popular choice of food for everyone, but they are an essential part of traditional Mexican cuisine. Their high nutritional value and delicate white meat have made them a popular delicacy in the valleys of Mexico and Toluca. Despite the changing food trends and preferences, frogs continue to be an important aspect of Mexican culture and culinary history.
In-Text Citation: Rosita Sánchez, Rosita and Estado de México. Conversación En La Cocina, Gastronomía Mexiquense. 1st ed., Mexico, Estado de México, 2006.