The worms were exhibited at the Edmundo Valdez Murillo Coliseum, in Canton Milagro, during the Septembrian Cantonization festivities. The naked eye does not look appetizing, and even less if we see them in motion, but the truth is that in Archidona, Napo province, the chontacuros continue to be a typical dish that not only locals but also foreigners taste.
In general, for the indigenous people of the Amazon, these worms that develop in the chonta tree are a delicacy that has penetrated the palate of those who visit this region of the country. Not only have nutritional properties but also medicinal.
The natives say they relieve cough and asthma. They also offer several options for eating: roasts, cooked or fried, accompanied with onion sauce, tomato, lettuce and cooked yucca. Others sell them in the streets on skewers. These animals are born from the larvae deposited by the black beetle on the palms of chonta, which during a natural biological process of three months evolve into caterpillars that are collected by the farmers, who can obtain 40 to 50 specimens.
María Belén Yumbo has been in the food business for 14 years and sells the chontacuros in different ways. She has her restaurant La Casa del Maito Grande, which serves from 07:00 in the remodeled patio of typical foods of the Amazon, in the canton Archidona.
In her restaurant, in addition to offering chontacuro, she prepares tilapia, maito de pollo or tilapia, cachama and bocachico, which can be accompanied by a sauce of onion, tomato, lettuce and a jug of guayusa water.
There are three kinds of chontacuro destined for the palate, according to Yumbo: the one that is born in the chonta, the one that reproduces in the plant of meretel or shigua, however, the most desired is the first of the list. “The worms have healing power to prevent and heal respiratory diseases, for that reason they are also required.”
Those who have tried them for once say they taste like fat, but others simply argue that they are tasty. To see them, it is no longer necessary to travel to the Amazon, because they are exhibited and sold in other provinces, especially in patron saint and cantonization festivities. (I)