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Rich In Poverty: Enrique Olvera On Ascetic Glory

Mexico is extremely rich in its poverty and I see that in food. When you have “nothing to eat,” you have to eat anything and everything. A few years ago, I went to Oaxaca with Alejandro Ruiz. We wanted to visit the coastal part of Oaxaca. And we The first stop was in Cuquila. So it’s a coffee farm. There’s this guy named Roberto. He was making a sauce. You know, molcajete. And I was starving because it was a long trip. Directly, I went to the kitchen to grab something to eat and I saw Roberto. He was making the sauce and I ate it. And that’s one of the most beautiful moments of my life because I discovered the taste of chicatanas. It’s a very particular taste, and I just fell in love with it. It was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted in my life.

Chicatanas are flying ants, and they come out with the first rain that happens in the southern part of Mexico. So four or five days, you have chicatanas in the year, and that’s it. To me, that’s the definition of luxury, because you can only have it for four days and it comes from a very specific place. That’s what I mean by the contrasts. If you have food available all the time, you probably wouldn’t have eaten chicatana ants. If you weren’t hungry, you probably wouldn’t have eaten worms.

-Enrique Olvera, Chef’s Table on Netflix

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