Hormigas Culonas/Big Butts Ants/ Atta laevigata

[Caution: The following post may be offensive if you are overly sensitive or have a weak stomach.]

Your most vital nutritional needs in a survival situation are protein and fat. Most insects are rich in both. Turn off your cultural bias against eating insects. Edible bugs are good “survival food”. 😉

Crunchy Munchy, Big-Butt Ants, anyone? I caught your attention with that title, didn’t I? Before you get too grossed out, considered that Ants have been an essential part of the Aboriginal diet for centuries. Eating Ants may sound revolting, but it could be a lifesaver. Some of the primordial ingredients of the Pre-Hispanic cuisine like insects, crustaceans and edible reptiles, are still essential elements in the creation of modern and traditional Mesoamerica food. In many parts of the world, insects are prized foods, too. Take China for example -these people are known to eat ‘anything that moves’. Beijing has a wonderful array; they’re famous for their exotic delicacies like scorpions, tarantulas and spiders. Insects are prolific breeders and have short life spans, so there is a vast supply. Further, they are an excellent source of protein. In the other hand, eating insects instead of animals could do great things not just for peoples’ diet and health but for the planet, too. Do you want more information? just click the link and take a look at:  http://edibug.wordpress.com/about/

Hormigas culonas are edible Queen Ants. The Spanish name literally translates to “big-butt ants”, which as it turns out is a very accurate description because of their large abdominals. Only the young Queens and Drones are harvested in the Santander region in spring after the rainy season when they emerge from their Ant hills from April to June in search of a mate. These critters are apparently so reliable as an aphrodisiac that they are routinely given as wedding gifts to help the newly-married couple get off to a wild honey-moon start. They aren’t cheap though. They can fetch up to $ 40 a pound. A lot of people think it’s gross but in Santander, Colombia eating ants is something you learn as a child. People generally toast the ants in salt at community gatherings and eat them as a snack. But there is innovation. At the restaurant Color de Hormiga in Barichara, chef Jorge Diaz purees them into a sauce to top filet mignon. Damas y Caballeros, in case you’re wondering, I have never and will never eat bugs. Shall we continue… please. 🙂

Mmm yummy

Atta laevigata is a pest leafcutter distinguished by a very large and shiny head in soldiers, a characteristic which has rendered the species with the popular name “cabeça de vidro” (meaning glass head). It can be found in Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana, Bolivia, Paraguay and, in Brazil, from the Amazonian Rain Forest in the North to the Paraná state in the South. It cuts leaves from many plantations, like pine tree, cocoa and eucalyptus, as well as wide variety of native plants. These species of tropical, fungus-growing ants are all endemic to South and Central America and parts of the southern United States. Typically found in the warmer areas of the Americas, Leaf-Cutter ants feed on a special fungus that only grows underneath the nests that they build. In order to cultivate their fungus, and keep it free from moulds, the Leaf-Cutter ants feed it with constant freshly-cut plants (hence, the name). However those plant leaves have a little spice added to them first. The ants will add a little saliva and also a little rectal fluid before putting it on the compost pile.

Leaf-Cutter ants build humongous nests that can go deep into the ground up to 26 feet. These nests can have up to 8 million Leaf-cutter ants in just one colony. These nests are often referred to as cities because they are so huge. The main centers of production of ants are the municipalities of San Gil and Barichara. From there, the trade of ants is extended to Bucaramanga and Bogotá, where the packages containing ants are often seen during the season. The exportation of this product is mainly made to Canada, England and Japan. Analyses conducted at the Industrial University of Santander about the nutritional value of the ants show high level of protein, very low levels of saturated fat, and an overall high nutritional value. Okay, this recipe is for all people out there that like to try out new recipes. Buen Apetito-Bon appetite!!

Mole de Chicatanas aka Big Butt

6 tablespoons butter
6 dried chiles costenos, roasted and seeded
3 ancho chiles, seeded and roasted
2 roasted tomatoes
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 onion, quartered and roasted
4 cups roasted ants Chicatanas headless, legless
1 / 4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 cloves crushed
1 / 4 teaspoon ground cumin
8 pork ribs cooked in water (reserve liquid)
Salt and pepper
3 avocado leaves

Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a casserole and fry the chilies, tomatoes, garlic, onion, ants and spices. Next, pour the cooking broth of pork and boil over medium heat until peppers are tender. Grind with water or additional broth cooking until a thick sauce consistency. Set aside. Melt butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat and fry the above mixture until the top has a greasy appearance. Season and reduce the flame. Fry the pork ribs in remaining butter, then add the ribs and avocado leaves to the mole until it returns to a boil. Remove the avocado leaves and keep warm. Serve hot with Spanish rice, potatoes, roasted vegetables or cheese enchiladas.

About zoom50

“It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease”
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8 Responses to Hormigas Culonas/Big Butts Ants/ Atta laevigata

  1. akamonsoon says:

    Zoom, I think I almost fell out of my chair. 😉 Have you ever watched ‘Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimern’ on the Travel Channel? This would be right up his alley.

    • zoom50 says:

      🙂 lmbo 🙂
      Yeah, I like this show because he eats all these interesting and weird foods I’ve never heard of. He has a cast-iron stomach!!! Lol

  2. Aussie Emjay says:

    I love a good mole – though I’ve yet to have one with ants!! I wonder where one would buy them?

    • zoom50 says:

      I love mole, too 😉 but the real Mexican style. OMG. It’s so good.

      I’ve heard good things about the edible ants, didn’t try it yet. However, I don’t think I’d ever be able to switch to an insect-eating lifestyle, no matter how tasty or nutritious they might be.

      Insects are rarely sold in supermarkets. But easy to buy online, you just gotta check this link out! http://www.thailandunique.com/toeat.html Lol 😉

  3. zoom50 says:

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post. Oh wow, that is good to know. My brother was in Colombia about two weeks ago, and it was the first time he saw these ants. Someone was selling them on the streets. I suppose I wouldn’t mind insects if I didn’t knew what it was – I am quite sure I’d be unable to consume something strange or scary. 🙂 I just don’t think I could do it. It all depends on the individual person. I think it could be a great alternative food source though.

    Thanks again!

  4. Pingback: Day 134: Big-assed Ants from Barichara Part 2 | Prawns for Breakfast

  5. Pingback: Day 134: Big-assed Ants from Barichara – Part 2 | Prawns for Breakfast

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