There are many Mexican autochthonous foods in Mexico, and many are making a comeback. Some have even found their way beyond regional areas they are native to and can be enjoyed at Mexico City restaurants (e.h. El Cardenal
, a branch at the Hilton nee Sheraton on Reforma) and even as far as New York gourmet restaurants. I will try to list a few as time goes on; if you are at all adventurous, they are well worth a try - and I have tried a number of them. In fact, I really love some of them, like escamoles and melocuiles.
(chop-ooh-LEE-ness)- grasshoppers of several species. They can be ground up and used as spices, in sauces, or prepared by cooking them so they are crackly and crisp.
(coo-ween-ee-KWEE-less) - somtimes spelled chilocuiles or tecoles, red maguey larvae of the moth Hypopta agavis
, infest the Agave. Often served deep fried with chile powder, they are crunchy and delicious, as are their close cousins, melocuiles (mellow-KWEE-less), white larvae of the Aegiale hesperiaris
butterfly. The larvae infest and eat the heart of the Agave (maguey) so when you eat these guys, you are helping with tequila or mezcal production; sometimes you see them in a bottle of mezcal (never tequila) to give them cachet and show verified mezcal. They are high in calories.
(ess-kah-MOE-less) - ant larvae of the genus Liometopu
, sometimes harvested from the roots of Agave plants (can anything that lives on the plant tequila and mezcal come from be bad?) They are usually found in the rainy season, and are fried, served in a bowl. They taste rich, buttery and a bit like pine nuts, which they also resemble, and go well with guacamole.
Flores de calabaza
(floor deh koh-luh-BOSS-sah) - squash or zucchini flowers. Bright yellew elongated flowers, they can be prepare din many ways, including wrapped into quesadillas.
Flor de maguey
(floor deh moh-GAY) - the white flower of the maguey, or Agave
(century plant), source of tequila or mezcal (tequila comes from one plant, Agave tequilana Webber
or blue agave, mezcal is from any other agave plant.)
(wow-SONT-lay) - Chenopodium nuttalliae
of the Goosefoot family, kind of like a skinny broccoli, can be prepared as broccoli or fried.
(weet-luh-COACH-eh) - a black corn-inhabiting fungus Ustilago maydis
causing "corn smut", a pathological problem for farmers - but a very delicious earthy tasting fungus with a bit of resemblance to truffles. It looks like enlarged black corn kernels, and can be prepare din many ways - I have seen it prepared in NYC and Mexico City as huitlacoche crepes. One of my absolute favorites - I nearly cried when a friend told me her corn had failed and become infected with fungus, so she destroyed it all.
(who-MEE-less) -small stink bugs, usually Atizies taxcoensis
. They can be ground up and added to sauces (typical in Oaxaca state) or consumed "as is" in soft corn tortilla tacos with sauce. If they are really fresh, some in my home state of Morelos in particular are eaten alive in a taco -a few may try to make their last escape up your face. Food that tickles your fancy... and are bitter tasting, along with their cousins, chumiles
. Not to my taste, though good in sauces, and there is a big jumil fiesta at the beginning of November in Taxco, Guerrero, Mexico's "silver capital".
More to come on occasion; feel free to add your own - and enjoy gastronomical adventures whilst travelling. ¡Salud!