What looks like a delicious salad from pine nuts at first glance, is certainly no vegetarian’s dream. The light yellow, bean-like grains are so called Escamoles, a rather extraordinary specialty from Mexico.
Escamoles are the eggs or larvae of giant black ants of the species ‘Liometopum’. The venomous ants lay their eggs deep down in the roots of agave or maguey plants. This poor accessibility and the ant’s very hurtful bite makes harvesting a rather difficult and unpleasant task.
Ant eggs as food have a long history in Mexico. Already the Aztecs ate Escamoles which is also where the ant pupae got their name from. It is derived from the word ‘azcamolli’ in the ancient Aztec language Nahuatl, with ‘azcatl’ meaning ‘ant’ and ‘molli’ translating to ‘stew’. Nowadays, the insect eggs are also sometimes referred to as ‘Mexican caviar’ – and they are priced accordingly.
Especially in and around Mexico City, Escamoles are a popular ingredient. The larvae are said to have a consistency similar to cottage cheese and a nutty or buttery flavour. They are most commonly eaten as a filling in tacos or omelettes.
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