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We all know that insects offer a viable solution to feeding an ever more densely populated planet, but we’re still a little bit squeamish about eating bugs in the West, aren’t we?
Well in Madrid, one chef is attempting to normalise the eating of insects by incorporating them into the very DNA of the tasting menu at his Michelin-starred restaurant and we mean really incorporating them, not just as an attention grabbing garnish – they’re even in the sauces.
Punto MX, which according to chef Ferran Adrià, "Might just be the best Mexican restaurant in the world right now," was the first in Europe to gain a Michelin star. At the helm is Mexican chef Roberto Ruiz, who’s 12-course tasting menu ('Entomofagia') incorporates four innovative and delicious-looking wild insect dishes: a guacamole with marlin, Parmesan, pomegranate and chinicuil worms from the agave plant; a monkfish aguachile with tomato, avocado and flying ants crushed tableside; pork belly with crickets; and escamoles (ant pupae), with garlic and chili in bone marrow fat, corn soil and chicatana ants. It’s worth adding that diners can opt out of the insect dishes if they wish.
Above: Escamoles (ant pupas) seared with garlic and chili in bone marrow fat, corn soil and chicatana ants); top: Guacamole with smoked marlin, 36 month-aged Parmesan, avocado, pomegranate, jalapeños and crispy Chinicuil-worms from the agave plant
All the fruits, vegetables and herbs served at the restaurant are grown at an orchard just outside of Madrid, but the bugs are sent over from Mexico. All in all it’s taken four years of research to develop the menu and also to clear a mountain of EU red tape.
Braised pork belly with Tamarind glace mixed with Alfafa-fed Chapulin crickets
Insects are common in Mexican cuisine of course, often served whole, but Ruiz is trying to do something different, elevating bug cuisine using fine dining techniques: “Entomaphagia [eating insects] is about roots,” he says. “My father is from one of the significant Mexican areas of insects; El Valle de Mezquital in Hidalgo, so insects were a big part of my childhood. It’s my personal taste, it’s protein contribution, it’s unique to the world and the reason why we brought it to Spain. Along with everything else we do at Punto MX, it’s about bringing the authentic Mexico to Europe, although the recipes and cooking techniques of Entomophagia is unknown even to my home country.”
See more dishes below.
Monkfish Aguachile with vegetables prepared in flames, tomato, avocado and Chicatana; bellies of flying ants, crushed tableside
Galician Lobster Taco with black bean demi-glace
Soba with spider crab and fried beans
Tostada with pig’s trotter, tomato, oregano and bayleaf and mixed pickled jalapenos
Golden popcorn and toasted peanuts with goat cheese ice cream dusted with smoked Chile Morita powder