A very popular, and traditional, food course here in the Ecuadorian Amazon is Chuntakuru.
A lot of people all around from Ecuador come here to eat it and it is considered very delicious.
I have tried it out also and I must admit, it tastes good, a little coco nutty and greasy, but very good.
|This is the Kichwa woman who cooked the first chuntakurus I ever ate.|
The only problem is that chuntakuros are actually huge white worms that live in the chonta palm tree.
They can be barbequed on wooden sticks, prepared in Maito (wrapped in local leaves and baked in their own juices) or eaten alive.
|This is her daughter at the restaurant kichen.|
But the trick is that chonta is extremely hard tree and the worms have huge jaws and they can bite really hard.
So, if you are not careful, you can end up with a tongue piercing instead of enjoying a delicious meal.
|This is where the chuntakurus were prepared, inside leaves on hot coals.|
For locals, the times when chuntakuros can be found is very important.
The worms were before one of their main protein sources, just like a really big flying ant called ukuy in Kichwa.
My aspiration has never been eating worms of any kind.
|Chuntakurus, alive and doing well. Eating the chontapalm, and crawling around, just like they love to do.|
I did eat ants at school because the boys would eat them and I didn't want to look like a sissy.
But worms weren't definitively something I ever wanted eat in my life.
I was well as long as we were working in a different part of the Ecuador.
|The picture is a bit blurry but I wanted to show how big they actually are.|
But when we decided to move to Tena, I starts to prepare myself mentally to all the foods that were waiting for me.
I have eaten deer, armadillo, porcupine, several types of roedents they have here, different sort of fish, insanely spicy chili peppers that make me want to die or drink a river, white cacao beans (that I actually recommend), and some very strange fruits.
|This is maito de chontacuro, all cooked and prepared. Just look at those jaws!|
I have also eaten tree peanuts (they grow in a tree, they are bigger than a peanut and they taste just like peanuts), regular peanuts boiled and cooked soft, and chonta palm's fruit (very good also).
I have drunk traditional drinks made by chewing the mash of different fruits and tubers and then spitting it to dirty river water and stirring it with even dirtier hands called chicha or aswa.
My personal favorite is sara aswa, or corn chicha.
|This is me, trying to be brave enough to put the worm in my mouth.|
I'm still waiting to try boa, caiman and monkey meat.
And at one point I just knew it was the time to eat chuntakurus.
Because in a Kichwa village you cannot refuse what you have been offered.
|Chewing the worm, and, honestly, trying very hard not to puke it.|
You say thank you, you eat and drink everything you have been given.
If there are extra worms or ants in the food, like my dad says, it's just protein.
I have made my peace with chuntakurus, we are not friends, their consistency is too wormlike for me.
|My little nephew wanted to taste chuntakurus and my niece can't just believe how disgusting they are.|
But they do taste good and I can understand why people love to eat them.
If you are ever looking for extreme food and eating experiences, I recommend coming to Tena in Ecuador and trying out pinchos de chuntakuru or maito de chuntakuru.
|He was a HUGE Fear Factor fan. And he really wanted to tell all his friends about how he ate worms when he visited his aunt and cousin in Ecuador. So, he actually ate them. My niece didn't want to ANYTHING to do with them.|
I will not explain you how to prepare them because I’m sure you will not be able to buy them around.
And probably wouldn’t want to prepare them even if you could.
But if you come to Ecuador, I am sure to let you know the best place to try them out.
|He's trying to find the words to describe how the worms tasted.|