Generally, you see chapulin translated as grasshopper in Mexico but in truth, the Nahuatl word chapoli, can apply to all matter of jumpy snacks including grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts. I am not an entomologist, but the little buggers we most often encounter in restaurants look a like crickets and offer a manageably bite-sized crunch.

In pre-Hispanic times most Mexican’s ate a fairly vegetarian diet making insects a valuable source of protein. Although chapulin are now commercially raised and prepared for sale, in the good ole days, children darted about the fields snatching the bouncy bugs from the air. At home, the crickets were left to defecate in a container for a day to remove any trace of pesty poo before they were boiled to a bright red and spread out in the sun to dry. The dried carapaces were then roasted to impart flavors from tasty ingredients like lime, garlic, and chile. Alternately, the shells could be oven baked in a clay pan, known as a corral, with seasonings such as salt and epazote. With great crunch and addictive seasonings, it is possible to believe that chapulines were the earliest bar snack offered up with frothy pulque and mezcal. Today, chapulines are a common accompaniment to guacamole in Southern and Central Mexican restaurants, both in taco stands and fine dining establishments.

What is it like to eat crickets? First, there are no gooey substances within the crispy insect husks. The only catch is that the little barbed legs continue to offer a posthumous hold on the throat if not chewed well. So, while you may be tempted, I advise that you not employ the swallow-them-whole maneuver your first time out.