They’re horrid, ghastly, gross, unthinkable, gut-wrenching, wonderful and delicious. These are but a few of the adjectives used to describe commonly eaten fare “south of the border” from Mexico to Peru. The expression, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison” has never seen more fruition than evidenced in these “exotic” foods found throughout Latin America. Just feast your eyes on these taste-tempting treats.
Starting off our list is a common delicacy from the Pacific Coast and Caribbean. Although protected in many countries, these green lizards, which can grow to more than 3 feet in length, are a prized stable in Aruba, Bonaire, Panama and Colombia. The eggs are also cooked and eaten even though they’re often taken illegally. A sizeable black market for them exists in Cartagena, on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. They’re not cheap, but they are good.
From Texas to Ecuador, these nine-banded creatures have been coveted for decades. Their numbers are now greatly diminished due to years of heavy hunting; they’re still considered a delightful treat when they can be found. Usually cooked in stews to help tenderize their thick, dense meat, almost everyone who has eaten Armadillo really likes them. You’ve got to be fast to catch them though. They can burrow into the soil at alarming speeds.
Technically known as “Hormigas Culonas”, these swollen abdomen ant species are a highly-prized food commodity in Colombia and Mexico. They’re gathered from seemingly innocuous places like cemeteries, parks and untended pastures, then roasted or fried until crisp. Only the enlarged abdomen is consumed, often with cheese or honey as an “aperitif”. Sold and exported by the pound, they’ve quickly become an international favorite among the insect-eating crowd. To b honest, I like them myself.
Despite numerous movies to the contrary, they don’t always attack without mercy. Children in Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru swim in Piranha-infested waters all the time without injury. Women are also known to do the family laundry in streams and pools teeming with razor-toothed schools of them. Many of the 35 known varies of Piranha, including the Cachama family, are not only edible, but delicious. Piranha head soup is used as a form of “jungle Viagra”. Tales abound of elderly Indian men with more than a dozen children and multiple wives.
Well if I didn’t get to you here in part one with “treats” from Colombia, Brazil and Mexico you’re gonna just love what you’ll get in part two of this three-part series. We’re going to travel into the jungles of Colombia and up into the high Andes mountain range in Ecuador to introduce you to some “Eye-opening”, high-flying specialties that’ll make partly-cooked greasy pork liver seem like “Haute Cuisine”.
See you in part two of “They Eat What! Latin America’s Most Exotic Foods”.