From Oaxaca to the world: “The art of eating insects”

More than 180 pieces from 23 collections, including archaeological works, fossils in amber, entomological boxes, scientific illustrations, oils, prints, period objects, photographs, and videos, integrate the exhibition The Art of Eating Insects, which is exhibited in the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso.

This sample is part of the traditional knowledge of Oaxaca, the use of insects in its gastronomy, which is why the exhibit opened in October 2019 and will continue until February 2, 2020 in Mexico City.

The exhibition, carried out in collaboration with the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio), the Cultural Promoter Cubo Blanco and Trilce Ediciones, includes works by the artist Francisco Toledo and the photographer Eniac Martínez, who died this year, as well as Silvia Andrade, Santiago Arau, Amador Lugo, and José María Velasco, among others.

The assembly addresses the relationship of human beings with insects as a way of feeding, from the perspective of science, art, history and anthropology. The exhibition is a space to learn about the history and importance of insects in Mexican cuisine, as well as an approach to gastronomic, artistic, environmental, social and biological issues that involve the presence of these species in the country’s food.

Yesterday, traditional cook Celia Florián gave the conference The Importance of Insects in Oaxaca Gastronomy; later she offered a tasting to the traditional foods, in which the main ingredients were the grasshoppers, maguey worms and chicatanas.

This participation promotes the development of gastronomic tourism in the entity and reaffirms that Oaxaca is one of the preferred destinations for national and international visitors for its food, as recognized by the British magazine Food and Travel in November 2019, as Best Gourmet destination in Mexico.

Last October, Jorge Volpi, coordinator of Cultural Diffusion of the UNAM, expressed at the opening of the exhibition, that the art of eating insects is: “a fascinating exhibition where the elements of art and science, especially social sciences, they are united when observing how insects are part of the traditional Mexican culture, a central part of the country’s food and therefore also of the future ”.

In the world, there are 1,950 species of edible insects, of which Mexico incorporates 545 into its kitchen as part of the traditional diet. Chapulines, Chicano ants, escamoles, ahuautle, red and white maguey worms, cochineal grana, among others, stand out in the national culinary dishes.

Along with the exhibit – which offers a historical tour as to the importance of insects in Mexican cuisine, as well as an aesthetic approach to the universe of national cuisine that intertwines the paths of art, biology, and history -, conferences, discussion tables, courses, workshops, recreational activities, guided tours and films around the theme of edible insects will be held.

About the author

This article was written by Ian Hayden Parker, Oaxaca Life staff writer, the leading source for English news in Oaxaca, Mexico.