Walter Mencken 9 a.m., Jan. 30
Not that Naomi needs any kind of authentication, but reading her post on bugs and Mexican cuisine reminded me of this bit from Raymond Sokolov's Why We Eat What We Eat: How Columbus Changed the Way the World Eats:
"The Aztecs had only five domesticated animals, as Sophie Coe reminded us in her survey of their cookery in Petits Propos Culinaires (Nos 19-21): the turkey, the Muscovy duck, the dog, the bee, and the cochineal insect...The list of insects eaten in Mexico now then and now is awesomely long. Water bugs (moscos de pajaro, axayacatl) whose eggs (ahuautli) are still gathered in the same manner described by Sahagun: Bundles of reeds that are stuck upright in the muck of shallow water attract the moscos, which lay eggs on them. After a month of this, people 'harvest' the bundles, dry them out, and shake the eggs onto cotton sheets. Sahagun says they were then eaten in tamales and tortillas. Today, according to Castello Yturbide, they are toasted, ground up, and make into little cakes held together with turkey egg...Mexicans also continue to eat locusts (chapulines), available all year at markets in Oaxaca and Atlixco (Puebla), by toasting them and eating them with tortillas and a sauce made of chile pasilla; mountain cinch bugs, which are eaten toasted or living; oak-boring beetles, which are popular as snacks among Mixtec peasants; red ant eggs (escamoles), actually the pupas and larvae, which are eaten in a special mole with nopal cactus or in turkey egg-bound cakes; and wasps, at Jungapeo, Michoacan."