The chicatana ant (Atta mexicana) is the most famous ant in Mexico. It can create enormous colonies with complex and extremely functional hierarchical structures in large ant hills. These insects come out of their hills during the first major rains of the year and are thus gathered in this period. They are cooked while still live, in a pan, and are eaten without condiments, though sometimes they are used as a main ingredient in sauces. After the harvest, the insects are cooked in a skillet so that they dry out and lose their wings. They are then ground up and mixed with garlic, salt and hot pepper, which is then reduced to form a velvety sauce. These ants are very aggressive, and when caught they can pinch with the small pincers found in the back of their bodies. It is hard to describe their flavor, as they don’t taste like anything else: they are reminiscent of something that is burned, bitter, salty and earthy. Chicatana ants are the insects most closely tied to the millenary history and folklore of the Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas regions. This kind of ant is at risk of extinction because over time more and more plots of farmland are being replaced by buildings, and the fertile land that this insect requires is ever harder to come by.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.