Eating ants and termites, dishes from ants and termites, recipes for ant eggs in banana leaves and termites in the style of Bantu. Extreme cuisine.

In many regions of the so-called Third World, in Africa, Asia and Latin America, ant dishes are valued as a cheap source of fresh protein and are part of the daily diet of local residents. In Thailand, for example, there is a restaurant that lists Sweet Vegetable Curry with Ant Eggs.. 

Eating ants and termites, dishes from ants and termites, recipes for ant eggs in banana leaves and termites in the style of Bantu. Extreme cuisine.

In rural Thailand, ants along with some other insects are regularly eaten. In these areas, ants are often eaten, and as soon as the season of activity of Hymenoptera comes, the ants are constantly present on the table of local residents.

, which stuck into the edges of the wound of the jaw, after which the ant was torn off, and the jaw – a kind of stitch – remained in the skin; the procedure was repeated until the cut was sewn up. In not so long ago, in China, the Nanjing Jinling Medical Research Center, based on ancient recipes and modern discoveries in the field of the healing properties of ants, developed the composition of Chinese royal ant wine. It is claimed that the drug is effective in treating rheumatism, helps strengthen muscles and bones, the immune system, and slows down the aging process..

Colombia can be called the world center of ant consumption. There, in late spring – early summer, ants are selected from their underground catacombs in the sun, which locals fondly call thick-handed. It was then that local peasants were waiting for them – and soon after a long-awaited meeting, they were already selling live or cooked ants at roadside bazaars at a price of about $ 6 per kilogram – that is how many insects are usually collected in the morning, receiving twice as much for them as for the daily fee any crop. Everywhere in these places you can find buses with ants painted on them and lottery kiosks under the sign Ant.

The city hall of one of the cities even installed a statue of an ant. In Thailand, ants did not receive official recognition, but in the poor north-eastern part of the country, they occupy such a prominent place in the diet that the menu of some restaurants almost entirely consists of dishes with these insects. One such restaurant is Satou Van near Surin, where duck soup, including its meat, liver and blood, is served with hundreds of red ants floating in a plate. This area of ​​Thailand, whose culture and cuisine is largely related to the culture and cuisine of neighboring Laos, is also known for a dish called larb, a kind of friable beef or pork pate with hot chili and chopped raw onions.

When a catfish larb is prepared in Satou Van, ants are included in the dish. They are added to both curry and fry with vegetables, served with rice. Ant eggs can be steamed in banana leaves along with minced pork, crushed shallots, chopped green onions and chicken or duck eggs. And all this is seasoned with salt, black pepper and fish sauce. In Thailand – as in neighboring Cambodia and Laos – red forest ants living in large land anthills are most widely used for food. People dig their homes and winters. Ants are separated from the garbage, collected in paper bags and sent to restaurants or local markets, where they are sold at about a dollar per kilogram..

Ants of another species, also living in the area, equip their dwellings on trees. These ants are collected using a net on a long handle, and then insects, and their eggs are thrown into a bucket half filled with water. Ants are drowning, and it is not difficult for the collector to collect from the surface everything that is considered edible – eggs and winged females. Of all the edible ants, one of the most curious – leaf-cutting ants, so named because of the habit of biting off pieces of leaves, taking them to nests and chewing there – it turns out to be a kind of mulch with which the ants line the inner walls of their dwelling. Mushrooms develop on the mulch, which ants eat.

In turn, the insects themselves are consumed by most Indians living in the Amazon, as well as other Central Americans. Winged females are caught when they fly out of their nests for mating in thousands, which happens at the very beginning of the rainy season. Females leave the nest at dawn, while Indians make bonfires at this time; insects fly into the light and are easily caught in baskets. Usually eat fried belly, tasting like fried bacon. There are ants whose taste resembles tart honey. These include, in particular, honey collector ants beloved by Australian aborigines..

Working ants of this species collect the sweet secretions of other insects and feed them to their counterparts, acting as the so-called honey butterflies. These latter store nectar in their stomachs, representing a kind of living pantry for the rest of the colony ants. Honey butterflies, with their huge belly, are slow and helpless, live in the underground chambers of anthills in readiness to burp some nectar and feed the hungry working ants. Underground galleries can go down to a depth of 1.8 meters, but when discovered, Aborigines easily get to the ants, tear off their heads, and eat the rest with raw materials.

Honey collector ants live in the western and southwestern regions of the United States. Here they collect sweet juice from large growths, or galls, on oaks and other trees. Honey is also stored in the belly of ants, and people find them and put them in their mouth, like sweet berries. Other species of ants are considered a delicacy. In Mexico, two kinds of pupae, called escamoles, appear on the menu of city restaurants. Pupa is distinguished by a delicate taste, and usually they are served fried without any additions or cooked with garlic and onions. Rural residents digging escamoles from their underground dwellings sometimes earn more per season than many farmers in a year.

Entomophagologists consider ants a real gift of nature. Formic acid, which is contained in the representatives of some species, is almost completely neutralized by heat treatment of insects, and ants of other species, including the ubiquitous wood-boring ants, have a raw, sweetish taste and can sweeten tea. Ants can be crushed and added to stews and soups to give greater density and saturation with protein, as well as fry with fried eggs. Like many other insects, ants are low in fat, rich in protein and phosphorus, but, on the other hand, they have almost no vitamins.

And now about termites.

They are not related to ants, although they often resemble winged ants and have similar properties. Termites build tall dwellings from the earth, eat wood and paper, their colonies are numerous. These insects are caught during the swarming period and eaten shortly after capture. Like winged ants, termites are attracted to light, and they can be collected by placing a basin of water, for example, under a bright lamp. When I lived in Hawaii, one guy suggested an easy way to get rid of these annoying insects..

After nightfall, turn on the lights in the pool: they say that the light will attract termites, they will drown, and in the morning it remains only to collect them with a network. Not bad, but first you need to have a pool with a backlight, and secondly, if you are supposed to have termites later, you will have to come to terms with the unpleasant smell of bleach. Termites are most widely used in food in Africa, where they are appreciated in almost all countries adjacent to the Sahara. The presence of termites in the markets of this region is so familiar that there are many food lovers from these insects among Euro-Americans who have long lived in North Africa.

In his classic study, Hunting Man Carlton Kuhn talks about the collection of termites by African pygmies. Each man in the village marks a milestone as a milestone. As the swarm season approaches, the villagers check the termite mounds, finding out how high the insects have risen to be in time to be in place when they appear. Around each termite, trenches are dug, and a canopy of leaves is erected above the termite. When termites begin to fly out of their home, they beat on a canopy and fall into trenches.

Women collect them in baskets with a lid, and then serve at the nearest meal, live, boiled, fried or crushed into a paste. The fat that appears when cooking termites on the surface of the water is collected for the manufacture of paint. It is obtained by mixing this fat with dust from mahogany wood. According to Kuhn, there are so many insects that women literally rake them in their baskets. This phenomenon is quite common. It happens that in the swarm season clouds of termites overshadow the sun. Queen of tropical termites can lay from 8 to 10 thousand eggs daily, and the fecundity of the queen of some Australian species is estimated at 3 million eggs per year.

African queens are the largest, they can reach the size of a large potato and can lay 100 million eggs in their lifetime. Because it is unlikely that termites will be threatened with destruction. Edible representatives of all castes of the colony, including eggs and queens. Termites, like ants, people have tried for a long time. An analysis of the digestive residues discovered during excavations of prehistoric cultural layers in Mexico showed that the ancient inhabitants of the region ate both winged ants and termites (as well as water flies and grasshoppers). Today, fried queens up to 3 centimeters long are sold on the streets of Colombian cities and villages – a tradition preserved from pre-colonial times..

One of the most active supporters of termite cuisine is Francis Benke, who wrote in her Natural Termite History (1977) that these insects destroy a tree, distill acid that corrodes lead, produce a liquid that can dissolve glass, and spread a substance that causes metal corrosion, which allows them to penetrate through it. And at the same time, they are good food. Like ants, termites can be eaten as a snack – frying destroys wings, crushing it with flour for baking and cooking oil. Benke says that the chicken fried in termite oil does not differ in taste from the fact that it is fried in cream.

Another propagandist for the culinary merits of termites was the late Lawrence van der Post, a South African writer (a kind of guru of the British prince Charles in his late years), whose book Catch Your Antelope First (1982) is considered one of the best about African cuisine. Van der Post wrote that termites are loved everywhere in Africa, and a hungry person in the bush or in the jungle should not be neglected. Growing up in South Africa, as a child he knew them as rice bushmen and rice ants.

They had a sharp and slightly pungent taste; fried even in canned butter, they still combined well with fried antelope meat. Today, in some European capitals, specially prepared termites are sold in the form of canned food, many fans have appeared in Japan.

Raw termites taste like pineapple, their protein content is higher than in chicken, fish and beef. The fat content is high in them, and therefore this high-calorie food. Gene Defoliart wrote in the 1975 Bulletin of the American Entomological Society that 100 grams of fried termites.

more than provide the person with those 65 grams of daily protein intake that are prescribed by the recommendations of the US Department of Agriculture, and with a good ratio of protein and fat calories. Anyone with eyes will easily believe that chitin, which makes up 5 to 10% of the dry weight of insects, will provide a person with rough food necessary to maintain intestinal tone.

In Indonesia, older men eat queens because they believe that they will strengthen their health and help them to feel young again. We often jokingly say that a picnic without ants is not a picnic, and there is a shade of annoyance in this statement. But perhaps, over time, we will not only be glad for the appearance of these insects, but also begin to cook them at home, so that later, laying in a basket, take with us to nature.

Recipe Ant Eggs in Banana Leaves.

1 cup eggs of red forest ants.
Minced pork fat (in chicken egg volume).
2 chicken or duck eggs.
3 small shallots, pounded.
Ground black pepper, salt and fish sauce.
Finely chopped onion feather.

Mix the minced meat, shallots and chicken or duck eggs, salt and water with fish sauce. Add well washed ant eggs. Try the mixture and add salt if necessary. Add ground black pepper, onion and all mix thoroughly. Divide the mass into two parts, each wrap a piece of banana leaf and stab with a bamboo stick or coconut palm stalk. Boil in a double boiler. When ready, expand the banana leaves, put their contents on a large flat dish and serve.

Bantu Termite Recipe.

570 g of termites.
1 teaspoon vegetable oil.
Salt (if available).

Tear off the wings, spread the insects on a flat stone and dry in the sun. Grease a frying pan or stone with oil and, having spread the dried termites on their surface, put them on burning coals. Fry until almost crunchy. Sprinkle with salt. Eat immediately, like popcorn, or save until later use (can be stored for months).

Based on the book Extreme Cuisine.
Jerry Hopkins.

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