Eating Chicatanas

Flying Ants Called Chicatanas


When the rainy season begins in southern Mexico, flying ants called Chicatanas begin to leave their nests for mating. These insects swarm, often near streetlights where they are captured and placed into plastic bags. Apparently, they are very aggressive and have quite a painful bite. After they are collected they are washed and grilled on a comal; a metal dish that is normally used to grill tortillas.

The local indigenous people have been gathering and eating these insects since ancient times. Chicatanas are even mentioned in the 16th-century encyclopedia of Mexican knowledge known as the Codex Florentino, where they were referred to as “Tzicatana.” Usually, they are ground up with garlic, salt, and chilies in a molcajete and made into salsa. They are supposed to be good just salted with a little chili powder and lime and eaten as snacks with beer or tequila.

I have a pretty strong stomach and a definite joy of trying new things, but honestly, I couldn’t really ever say I loved them. They had a crunchy texture and a slightly smoky flavor, but the exoskeleton tended to get stuck in my teeth, and there was a kind of weird, plastic aftertaste. As a novelty they were enjoyable, but next time I am offered some, I think I will decline.

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn't intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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