Michael: The medical examiner told the detective that the stomach contents of the deceased contained hormigas culonas.
That mention on the TV show “CSI Miami” was my first hearing of eating ants in Colombia. It happened before my move to the South American country. Of course I wondered about the accuracy of such an assertion.
Well, the consumption of the insect is true. However, do not expect to see them everywhere all year round and not just any ant is eaten.
Graciela: You find them only in the department (like a state in the USA) of Santander. Major cities that travelers write about finding the ants for sale are Bucaramanga, San Gil and Barichara. Some bring them to Bogotá to sell. Then there are rumors of ones being imported to such major world cities as Tokyo and London. It has been reported that a person is now dipping them in chocolate and selling them for as much as $16 a dozen in prestigious world department stores.
The food source dates back to the indigenous Guane Indians of the area. This is well before the arrival of the Spanish.
Tthe insects are only available during the months of April and May. That is the time that the ants exit from the ground. Stores and street vendors sell the finished product in small plastic bags.
Hormigas is the Spanish word for ants. Culo is arse. Hormigas culonas means big arse ants or ants with a big arse.
Michael: These are leafcutter ants. The technical name is atta laevigata. And the ants are large, measuring about a centimeter in size. People collect them alive in the mountains. Only the queens are used for food.
Preparation is relatively simple. First the legs and wings are removed. Then the ants are placed in boiling salted water. From there they are toasted in a pan.
Many have described the experience like eating popcorn. There is a crunch when bitten into and a salty taste in your mouth.
There are different claims of benefits from the ants consumption. Some say that the insects act as an aphrodisiac. A university study shows that they are high in protein and low in saturated fat, making them as a defense against cancer.
My wife does not eat them. Mostly it is because of what they are. I have no problem and think they go great with beer. Others, of course, take theirs fancy dipped in chocolate. Still, in my opinion, if you get the chance try some. It won’t kill you.