La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal’s Festival de Bichos kicks off this week
Bichos means bugs.
A mountain of grasshoppers falls off a roasted bone with rendered bone marrow. Worms top a blue corn tostada. Chicatana ants sit on a pressed pork gordita. Larvae sautéed with butter.
“Bugs are ready!” Chef Jose Avila called out from the kitchen as he tossed a platter with sample dishes at La Diabla Pozole y Mezcal (2233 Larimer St.).
The restaurant is hosting its first ever Festival de Bichos, or bug festival, beginning this Thursday. The festival will run through March 19.
On the menu: scorpion, ants, grasshoppers, larvae and worms.
“Bug eating happens in Central Mexico. Oaxaca and Guerrero are some states where people will gather their bugs. This has been a practice that has happened for thousands of years,” Avila said Monday, as he previewed the festival offerings for several reporters. “We are not trying to start a trend or be cool, this is just how our ancestors have been eating. One can argue that bugs are good for you, there’s a lot of protein. The truth of the matter is no one is eating them here. This is a unique opportunity for people to be able to try these kinds of things.”
Avila said that, as far as eating bug tostadas, “You have to be open to it.”
He continued: “With the chicatana (ants) salsa, you will feel and taste a very earthy, almost wet-dirt and rainey flavor because that is when the ants harvest. Escamoles (larvae), cooked with butter, have a creamy, risotto-like consistency.”
The restaurant originally planned for March 1, then they pushed it back to March 7. It officially kicks off this Thursday.
A sample platter featuring five different critters will cost about $67 and includes two Desert Waters from Madre Mezcal. It’ll be available throughout the day.
On the platter: a pork gordita with chicatana (ant) salsa and worm salt crema, roasted bone marrow and grasshoppers, a buttered larvae taco, a worm tostada and a scorpion and pineapple tamale.
“As far as cooking them, it’s not difficult. The hard part is bringing the insects to the States. All of our bugs spent some time in customs,” Avila said.
There are thousands of insects that are native to regions across Mexico. Of those, about 300-500 species are edible.
“We probably have about 5 pounds of each insect and the idea is to expand even more for next year’s festival,” Avila said.
“In places like Mexico City, Oaxaca, Guererro, you see them all over. Street vendors will sell you plastic bags of grasshoppers with a little bit of lime. It is a good way for La Diabla to expose people to this part of Mexican cuisine and learn that there is more than just tequila and tacos.”
As they say: Si corre o vuela…para la casuela.
If it runs or flies…throw it in the pan.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct price of the sample platter. It has also been updated to include the full sample platter offerings.