Bullfighting, cock fights and a livestock exhibition are a big part of the annual San Marcos fair in Aguascalientes, but this year a big hit during the three-week event appears to have been scorpions.
The arachnids were the main focus at a pavilion dedicated to the northern state of Durango, where they were served fried on sticks.
“They taste good, like chicharrón [fried pork crackling], a bit milder than pork,” said fairgoer José, who praised the seasoning used.
The people of Durango are accustomed to living with scorpions. After all, the state has been known for a long time as the scorpion capital of Mexico.
But this was the first time that Durango scorpions had been offered at the San Marcos fair, Mexico’s largest.
In preparation, hundreds of scorpion hunters took to the hills, where they caught an estimated 4,000 scorpions of several species.
Scorpions captured in the wild are preferred among connoisseurs, who assert they are not as venomous, or “dirty,” as their domestic counterparts. Still, the captured varmints go through a disintoxication process that rids them of their venom.
The substance is then used to make ointments that are believed to alleviate symptoms of rheumatism, arthritis and other ailments.
The next step is to cure the scorpions in mezcal, which leaves them ready to be seasoned and fried and offered to those who are brave enough to try them.
A single fried scorpion on a stick went for 25 pesos (about US $1.30) at the fair, although the big juicy ones went for as much as 75 pesos.
Diners had the option of squeezing lemon juice on their scorpion snacks, and adding chile or salsa.
“It’s a very eccentric little snack,” said Lupita García, who ran the scorpion stand. “It draws the attention of tourists.” She denied that scorpions taste like chapulines (grasshoppers), asserting that the mescal curing process gives them a distinct flavor.
Anyone with a yearning for the fried scorpions can find them year-round in the southern Durango city of Gómez Palacio.
Source: El Universal (sp)