post by Brook
On our way to San Pablo today, walking through the Zocalo, we saw people catching insects and collecting them in bags.  These insects were all over the place-- in the air, on the ground.  And easy to catch.  People had them by the handful, by the bagful.  The photo to the left was a bag full of these insects a five or six year old girl collected.
  We stopped to ask about what was going on and the woman we were talking to, a young teenager, offered me one to hold.  I have to admit, I was afraid to hold it at first-- it looks like a wasp.  But everyone had them in their hands, so I held the one offered to me. 
    These insects are called chicatanas and are a type of flying ant.  (They are harmless.)  I had certainly heard people talk about chicatanas before, but I guess I had never seen them.   It was amazing-- the number of them that there were, the ease with which they were caught, and the joy with which people were collecting them.
    Later on I was talking with a man I met and I told him we saw chicatanas in the Zocalo today.  He got very excited-- what time did I see them, he asked?  He was there at 6:30 a.m. and there were no chicatanas!  I asked if he wanted to collect some.  Yes, he answered right away.  They are so delicious.  They taste like butter.  Their tails, especially, are good.  He likes to eat them in a peanut-based salsa.  And, apparently, they only come twice a year.  Once at the beginning of the rainy season and once at the end. 
    I asked if they would be for sale in the market today, thinking they might.  But he told me no.  They would cost 300 pesos / kilo, he says, but no one collects enough to sell in the market.  Everyone wants to eat what they collect.  Maybe I should have caught some of my own!

Chicatana (image from http://costachicanuestra.blogspot.mx/2011/06/las-chicatanas-manjar-afrodisiaco.html)
more chicatanas (http://elbavaro.blogspot.mx/2010/06/las-chicatanas-las-hormigas-que-se.html)

UPDATE (June 15, 2013):  Flying Ant Salsa!

I got to try salsa made with chicatanas!  My friend, and Helen and Alex's host mother, Vicky served this delicious salsa with black beans, chicken, and potatoes.   (Helen and Alex were sous chefs for this wonderful meal.)   The salsa was very good and very spicy!  I certainly would not have known that there were chicatanas in the salsa if I hadn't been told.  Given all the other ingredients, I'm not even sure I can say what chicatanas themselves taste like, but I do like salsa made with chicatanas
a delicious meal, made even more delicious with salsa made from chicatanas
salsa made from chicatanas
I. Standridge
6/13/2013 04:36:43 am

So were there anymore, later in the day? Did anyone say how long they show up? I would like to know if you think they taste like butter, (only crunchy?). I have heard of some other kinds of insects that are eaten in Mexico. The insect climate must be fierce.

6/17/2013 09:42:49 am

I did walk through the Zocalo later on that day, but there were no more chicatanas. I did get to taste them, though. (See update above.) I'm not sure I could say what they taste like on their own, however.

judy treuge
6/18/2013 04:34:52 am

The meal looks yummy and you are able to say that you have eaten chicatanas even if you are not quite sure how they would taste on their own. Bravo - what fun...


Leave a Reply.