A Colombian Delicacy: Giant Fat-Bottomed Ants

March 13, 2014

The Santander region in Colombia is famous for a little delicacy called Hormigas Culonaswhich literally translates as “big ass ants”. It’s a fitting name as this particular type of leafcutter ant is about a centimeter in size and has a bulging butt, presumably full of protein.

Thinking to myself “When in Rome…”, I decided to eat some of these giant dead insects.

Bon appetit.

Eating these ants is a tradition going back hundreds of years, originating with some of the pre-Colombian tribes in the region. Today, Santander is the only place in the world where you can purchase them easily (though some apparently get exported to London and Tokyo).

A few gourmet restaurants in San Gil and Barichara have incorporated the Hormigas Culonas in some of their dishes in creative ways. But being a low-budget traveller, I  simply bought some from a street vendor and took them to my hostel for a post-lunch snack.

I’m not so sure about this…

I have to say, I approached this culinary expedition with some trepidation. These ants do not look particularly appetizing.

I shove a spoonful of ass-ants into my mouth… and I’m immediately surprised by how non-horrible they taste. They’re a little crunchy and salty, kind of like popcorn. They also have an after-taste reminiscent of roast chicken—not actual roast chicken, but more like the taste of roast chicken flavoured crisps.

It’s not the best thing in the world, but it’s not entirely unpleasant either. The main negative aspect of Hormigas Culonas are the legs: they’re a little tough and get stuck between my teeth.

Still, I am going to say this is a legitimate snack.

My verdict:

*** out of *****

An ant statue in San Gil. Near it are a few street vendor selling plastic cups of various sizes containing Hormigas Culonas.

What is the most adventurous thing you have eaten? Post a comment below!

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6 comments

  1. christopher oldfield Reply July 28, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    I ate at a Denny’s once…never again. 😉

  2. Hammer Johnson Reply September 26, 2014 at 8:12 am

    8 day duck fetus in Vietnam.

  3. Guest Reply September 26, 2014 at 8:09 am

    8 day duck fetuses in Vietnam. Not bad but not great either. REALLY nauseating looking and the little beak and feet and feathers had a weird texture. And the green goo they float in has to be consumed too so the locals don’t think you’re an American pussy! Sorry about the poor quality of the pic. My flash died…

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply September 26, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Hah bon apetit! You’re a courageous eater. When I was in the philippines I met someone determined to eat balut which is similar to this. He insisted on me recording a video of him, but all we got was a video of him throwing up and running to the bathroom…. 🙂

  4. kelly Reply March 25, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Some people believe that ‘fat-bottomed’ ants are an aphrodisiac. Then again, they also say the same about goat’s milk and oysters. 🙂

    • Marek Indietraveller Reply March 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Hah it seems like every unusual type of food is said to be an aphrodisiac. If it were all true then I’d be having a lot more fun! 🙂

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