To Eat the Bug, or Not Eat the Bug.. that is the question.
Alright I admit it, for me, being the little peace loving vegetarian I am, this is an easy question to answer. No thank you.
But you know I love the weird. Discovering superstitions, unusual traditions and strange foods eaten locally around the globe. Well I have a great story for you today my darling little travel baggers.
A tale from México, of coloured bright orange and purple bugs Mexican grandmothers call 'the meat we eat'. They love chowing down on these roasted beauties and consider them a delicacy looking forward to the time of year when they are found in abundance on Mesquite trees.
Found by accident when I almost face planted into a bunch of these baby bugs in the tree overhanging the stairs, I should tell you that they really aren't that small. About an inch long, thank god they were so brightly coloured or they'd be all over my face. So, imagine my surprise when I actually took a step back and looked at these gorgeous bugs.
A lot of cultures around the world, especially in Asia include bugs in their diet liking a little crunch with their meal. Me, well I've seen them eaten, heard that crunch and can firmly say it's a no thank you from me.
Living in Mexico and becoming a Mexican, I adore finding hidden treasures like this. Tales of crunchy little morsels hoarded, grilled and hung in mesh bags over grandmothers stoves that are considered a delicacy in Mexico. For generations, women have collected them or sent the children out on bug hunts each year to collect hundreds of them to bring home and cook up for the family to munch on. Known as the 'meat we eat' they are said to taste sweet making it a little treat snacked on daily when bug season arrives. In years gone by grandmothers tell tales of being able to gather enough to last six months. Nowadays with urban sprawl, clearing of land and declining numbers of the Mesquite tree, they are scarcely able to find 1-2 months worth.
Once collected they come home, cook them over a griddle and then hand them in mesh bags in their kitchens for easy access. So, if you are ever invited into a Mexican grandmothers kitchen in the Hidalgo area of Central Mexico (near the capital Mexico City) then don't be surprised if you see a bag of bugs hanging around.
They are actually the nymph of a Giant Mesquite Bug which isn't as nearly as colourful, usually found in a brownish black and kind of scary looking. Well I think they are.
They look like a bug and the terminator had a baby making it a firm 'hell no' to the 'eat the bug or not eat the bug' question (and in case of giant bug uprisings).
Nonetheless, embracing differences, I love uncovering tales and traditions, weird and strange local 'out of the norm' cuisines, customs and cultures that offer you a 'little something' extra on your travels.
Even if that little something is bugs.
I am happy to report, all of my bugs were guarded and protected and made it to maturity morphing into their drab greyish brown adulthood free to live their lives safe from the clutches of Mexican grandmothers ready to cook them on a griddle. You're welcome little bugs. And next year I will do the same for the next generation even if my friends and landlady think I'm a lunatic.