When strolling over the Belén market of Iquitos in the Peruvian Amazon, you can grasp all the exotic marvels the jungle has to offer. Sooner or later, big yellow blobs on sticks will most definitely grab your attention. Only on second glance you will probably be able to identify what they are: yes, giant larvae on skewers. These are grubs of Rhynchophorus palmarum, a palm weevil commonly found in the region. In Peru, they are called Suri and are actually one of the curious delicacies of the Amazon.
As the weevil’s main food source, the aguaje palm, is extremely prevalent in the Amazon, and in fact often used as the region’s official symbol, the insect itself can also be found in great numbers. The fully grown weevil, called cocotero, bores deep holes in the trunks of the aguaje, where it lays its eggs. Right after hatching from the eggs, the grubs start digging their way to the surface. As they eat through the spongy and oily palm wood, the larvae keep getting bigger and fatter. When they have reached a substantial size, the Suris are harvested and prepared to eat.
Why Is Suri So Popular In The Amazon?
With a length of up to 10 cm, Suris are the largest edible insects in the Peruvian Amazon. The sheer size surely doesn’t make them the most mouthwatering looking creatures. So why are they such a popular food – or is it just a gimmick for tourists? Actually, estimates suggest that locals consume on average 2 kilos of suri per year, making it a true local favourite!
Native populations have long upheld the larvae for its nutritious properties. They are extremely rich in protein, healthy unsaturated fats as well as nutrients like vitamins A and E or beta-carotene. And while this may seem hard to imagine by many foreigners, the grubs are also popular due to their delicious taste and extraordinary texture.
How To Eat Suri And What It Tastes Like
Locals often prefer eating Suri raw, or even alive, by sucking out the fatty insides after removing the head, pinchers and intestines. A more beginners-friendly option is anticucho-style Suri, marinated and grilled on skewers over hot coals, or chicharrón de Suri, fried in their own fat in a similar way to bacon.
While the outside can be soft or crispy depending on the method of preparation, the inside is typically creamy and mushy, almost marshmallow-like. The rich, slightly sweet taste reminds people of many other foods and ranges from hazelnuts to coconut butter.
You love discovering extraordinary delicacies like Suri? Then check out our collection of the most curious foods from around the world!
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