Since the dawn of humankind, people around the world have eaten insects for protein.
In [what is now] Mexico alone, a variety of tasty insects were eaten for protein by Aztecs and their predecessors.
Personally, we’re not into edible insects just yet. But we have friends who vacation in Mexico every year, and they can’t get enough of them.
If you need a gift for an adventurous eater, or have a bold palate yourself, consider sal de gusano.
Sal de gusano, worm salt (photo #1), is a specialty of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, and a classic accompaniment to mezcal and tequila (photo #2).
It’s a traditional spice in Oaxaca, which is the heart of the mezcal region.
The larvae are toasted and combined with sea salt and chilies.
Since the larvae spend their lives eating only the agave plant, and their “meat” develops flavors* that pair well with agave-based beverages like mezcal and tequila.
In additional to mezcal and tequila shots and mixed drinks, sal de gusano it used with Micheladas.
And don’t forget the Margarita.
Salt and lime are typically served as flavor enhancers with mezcal- and tequila-based drinks. Sal de gusano replaces the salt and provides a much deeper flavor.
“Only in Mexico can we find a product like this, an original pre-Hispanic recipe and 100% Oaxacan†,” says Eduardo Quiroga, chief sommelier at Grand Velas Riviera Maya in Riveria Maya, Mexico.
“It is a product with a unique flavor that enhances the flavor of food and gives it a unique aromatic depth,” [source].
Sal de Gusano gives a distinct Oaxacan flavor to food and drinks. According to Bar Faith:
“It’s smoky, earthy, and adds unbelievable depth and umami. I don’t think I can enjoy mezcal without some of this on hand.”
Are you ready?
You can also find brands on Amazon.
And for more edible insect products, head to Don Bugito.
*The red maguey worms are known as chilocuiles, chinicuiles or tecoles, and are the larvae of the moth Comadia redtenbacheri. There are two varieties, white and red. The red worms live in the root and heart of the agave plant, while the white larvae are in the leaves. According to Quiroga, the red larvae contribute sweetness while the white the larvae have minerality and grassiness [source].