Some people are afraid of new tastes. Some others just want to keep tasting their traditional flavors. And others, who usually are few people, try different foods that transport them to new sensations. And this the way you will feel when you try Chontacuros, or Muquindi, as the Achuar community knows them.
What’s so singular about chontacuros? Simple: they are worms. Many Western cultures disdain non-traditional foods as they could be dangerous, or disgusting, for some palates.
Despite this fact, this is nothing else than an absurd taboo which makes no sense: worms, for example, are a good source of vitamins, and their taste could be similar to chicken or other animals, depending on the worm and its conditions of life, surroundings, what it eats, etc. Of course, it is strange to taste a worm and feel comfortable at first taste, but give it a chance: you won’t regret at all.
What’s the origin of the word “chontacuro”?
Chontacuros have a particular etymology. Their name comes from the Kichwa word “chonta”, which is a tree that grows in the jungle, and “curo”, which means “worm”, so they are literally “chonta worms”. Depending on the language, the name of the worm changes: in Kichwa they are called “chontacuro”, in shuar their name is “mundish”, and in achuar it’s “muquindi”. All of these are languages spoken by different tribes in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador and a part of Peru.
Unique process, unique taste
The process to get the worm is actually curious. Chontacuros are worms that grow fat and big after they are deposited at the very heart of the chonta tree, by a black beetle that brings on its wings the eggs that will soon become larvae inside the tree.
The chonta tree lasts at least one or two years to grow up until reaching heights of 6 to 9 meters. It has distinguishing spines all along its bark, making virtually impossible the task of harvesting its fruit. For this reason, most chonta trees are torn down.
Once the local harvesters have taken the fruit from the tree, they cut it and extract a kind of palmetto that comes used in some typical Amazon dishes. This is the time when the black beetle comes and deposits its eggs in the torn-down remains of the tree. The eggs turn into larvae, and grow until they are thick and have a size of XX centimeters approximately.
Local people take them two months later from the tree to the place where they will be consumed: they can be eaten raw, fried or as skewers, which is the tastiest way. People who have tried them say they are not repulsive, but it will exclusively depend on how each one feels about eating them.
The most important thing is that you feel comfortable with the offers we have in the Amazon for you. Kapawi wants you to taste every single dish for you to feel the warmth of our openness in the middle of the jungle!