My first encounter with hormigas (ants) was at Conversation Club – a group I run at my school that meets in the evenings twice a week. After learning that I had never eaten ants my students showed up at our next meeting with a bag of fried ones for me to try.
Many Colombians I’ve met like to snack on ants. You can find them at lots of markets or just catch some yourself. This custom was supposedly started by the Guanes – an extinct group of indigenous people from Santander. I wasn’t keen on the flavor my first time – they were super salty with a metallic taste that I didn’t like. My second encounter with ants came two days later when I went with a group of friends to volunteer at a rural school in Piedecuesta on a Saturday morning.
The kids learned how to play ultimate frisbee and then we made wallets with them out of potato chip bags and cardboard. Throughout the morning a group of boys were frequently dipping into their bags of live ants they had collected.
They would usually play with each ant for a little bit before pulling off the abdomen, tossing it in their mouth and throwing the rest of the ant on the floor. I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me just a little sad to see all the half-dead ants limping around without their abdomens.
Naturally, the boys made all the foreigners try some raw ants and I found that I liked the flavor better than the friend ants I had tried earlier.
The boys were thrilled for me to take a few pictures of their ants and insisted that I photograph some on a frisbee so their size and color could be properly appreciated. Qué deliciosas!