There are few bugs as versatile as the jumil. The beetle has been revered and consumed by Mexicans since pre-Columbian times as a medicine, an aphrodisiac, and a nutritious snack.
Some tasters describe jumiles—which are often eaten alive—as a “cocktail of mint and cinnamon,” with sweet and bitter qualities. In the town of Taxco, where jumiles are common, locals say that once you taste them, you’ll be hooked.
Reports from the 1930s and 1940s describe Mexican Indians using the insects to treat kidney, liver, and stomach ailments. Due to analgesic and anesthetic properties, the bugs can numb a toothache or help alleviate pain from arthritis. They also contain iodine, which can help treat hypothyroidism. If that weren’t enough, the insects are also rumored to be aphrodisiacs.
While you need to eat the beetles live to experience the full spectrum of their effects, they’re also quite tasty cooked. Jumiles are a favorite taco filling in Taxco, especially toasted or ground with salsa and guacamole.
Need to Know
You can try jumiles in Taxco, where there's even a jumil festival to honor the insects around the time of Dia de los Muertos in early November.