The Chicana ant, a luxury of Mexican cuisine

When we talk about Mexican gastronomy, traditions prevail and some remain throughout the years or centuries, such as the consumption of some insects that are linked to the history of Mexico and that today can be found even on tables of the most exclusive restaurants in the world.

One of these dishes that has sailed through history is the Chicana ants, a dish so unique and special, that it can only be collected one day in the year, the morning after the first spring rain, in the states of Oaxaca, Puebla , Veracruz, Chiapas and Yucatan.

"The chicatana is for me the definition of luxury, because it is something that happens one day of the year," says the Mexican chef. Enrique Olvera in the documentary “The Chicano Ant”, Made by its restaurant Pujol, symbol of Mexican haute cuisine.

The use of insects in Mexican gastronomy has been carried out since before the conquest, as indicated in the Florentine Codexwritten by Friar bernardino de sahagun in the sixteenth century.

From Sahagún, he listed 96 species of insects that were included in the diet of pre-Hispanic cultures, although of these, the Chicana stands out for the complexity of its collection, since it is only the reproductive females of the leaf-cutting ants that perform a single nuptial flight, in which the queen is fertilized.

Only one night they fly by the thousands and practically fall from the sky, while the inhabitants of these regions collect this unique dish, guided by the hum of the huge ants that will later turn into food, after roasting them on the comal, to put them on an omelette. with beans and a thick sauce.

The red ants have gone from the traditional kitchens of the towns, to the most exclusive places, such as Pujol or Criollo in Oaxaca, another site also owned by Olvera, where the atmosphere is filled with the aroma of comal on fire, the leaves of avocado and chile de arbol, grinding into a molcajete, a volcanic stone turned into a mortar.

But the ways of preparing them are as varied as the area of ​​Mexico where they are collected. In Oaxaca, for example, you can eat pork with mole de chicatana.

You can also order their recipes from traditional cooks, although they will not always be willing to share their secrets.

Image:San Luis Antenna
"The idea that you arrive at the restaurant and you receive the aroma of the totomoxtle (dry corn leaf) burning and these corn with the ants, was this the idea of ​​placing yourself in the context," he explains. Olvera about the presentation of the chicatas in Pujol.

Whether in its most gourmet version, or in the most traditional recipe, record in your plans for when you leave home to try the Chicana ant, a true luxury of Mexican cuisine that very few have been able to enjoy.

Follow with And tell us if you have already been able to taste the Chicano ants or what other insects you have eaten, that you would like to share with us.