The Hormiga culona, or atta laevigata, is Spanish for the big butted ant. If you have a taste for bugs, this insect will satisfy your cravings. It is common knowledge that the big butted ant is one of the most flavorful.
The big butted ant is related to the leaf cutter ant. If a cockroach and an ant mated, this is what they would produce. It is an ugly, overweight looking ant, crossed with the always ugly cockroach; however, it is a delicacy which commands around 40 dollars a pound.
It is not unusual for ant peddlers to roam the countryside yelling “hormigas!” This all in a typical day for them. They collect from the harvesters and pay their wage, just to turn around and do the whole thing all over again the next day.
Where to Find
Found almost exclusively in the mountains of northern Columbia, the hormigas culonas are difficult to harvest. They are centrally located in the northern Santander department where they are healthy and live abundantly, like no other place on earth.
Only the females can be harvested for eating. They are found during the entire nine weeks of the rainy season.
How to Eat
There is a tradition that when the female ant crawls out of her colony each spring, the townspeople drop what they are doing to catch the ants. After gathering the ants, they are toasted to bring about their addictive flavor. It is said that one is not enough.
It is important to keep the insects alive until ready to cook or roast or toast, because they becoming bitter if killed prematurely. If roasted, they have an earthy, nutty taste.
Sometimes used as a pizza topping, sometimes used as a sauce for pork cutlets and sometimes made into ant bread, these creatures offer a versatile culinary addition to the Colombian cuisine. The locals consider the big butted ant to be their caviar.
If you would like to eat the ant as a snack and just pop into your mouth, you must first pluck its wings, head and legs off. Then they can be salted and fried and eaten. A warning comes with eating the big butted ant. Don’t drink water within two hours after eating them, for fear of a stomach ache.
Because the female ants are full of eggs, they are packed with protein. Basically, they have a big butt because they are carrying the next generation of ants. She is quite an energy boosting snack worthy of investigation.
The female is a rich source of unsaturated fatty acids. This helps in preventing high cholesterol. Vitamins B1, B2 and B3 are represented well within the hormigas culona, secretly offering aphrodisiac properties.
The next time you think of eating insects and it really makes you cringe, consider the oceans crustaceans, which are physically similar, like the lobster, shrimp and crab. With a little adventure and a good attitude, you could make your own ant recipes like ant bisque or ant chowder.