Culture

A Mexican Chef In NYC Is Giving Diners A Chance To Try Gourmet Mexican Food With Traditional Insect Ingredients

Back in 2014, the East Village didn’t know it was about to get a gourmet traditional Mexican restaurant. So traditional that Chef Mario Hernandez does not hold back from tossing in a few ‘edible’ insects to top off your guac or rim your tequila glass. Owner Jorge Guzman told New York Magazine that the ants are expensive because they only emerge in Oaxaca once a year.

Here’s a look at the foods you can expect at the gourmet New York City restaurant The Black Ant.

First, start with the guacamole with crushed ants to top it off.

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Remember, this is an upscale Mexican restaurant we’re talking about so the guac is going to be extra ($13 to be precise). It’s served with wakame-black ant salt.

Try a grasshopper croqueta.

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Mmhm. That’s a croqueta de chapulín. While there is one grasshopper who is staring you down, you can eat the rest of them without looking at them in the eye. They’re tucked in with yucca-manchego and salsa.

Not everything is covered in ants.

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Like this buñelo de pato (crispy duck dumplings) bathed in Oaxacan Mole Negro y queso fresco. Támbien tiene algo por veganos: the roasted seasonal vegetables with vegan green mole and greens.

Para tomar: crushed worm salt rimmed tequila.

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Yup. I guess worms are salty. The Black Ant is lauded for it’s cocktails above all else and is worth getting a spooky drink or two to celebrate the Halloween season.

Get spooky with these floating ant carcasses in your drink.

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Eso es Buenbicho Mezcal with Chile ancho infused campari, cocchi torino sweet vermouth and orange oils. And ants.

Careful, because even dessert can bug you out.

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Can you spot the insects? This is a platano cake, parsnip and grasshopper ice cream. Take your next adventure-seeking date here.

The chef goes back to Mexico every two months to restock on insects.

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The menu changes based on the season for insect collection. Did I just block out that vendor at the market?

If you’re adventurous, but only en el mar, try this dish.

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It’s (obviously) a seared octopus tentacle con frijoles, but can I just say that octopus are actually some of the most intelligent creatures and have been spotted playing a game of toss witch each other.

Can you spot the insects?

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Because they’re there, all en mezcla con shishito peppers, avocado purée and queso fresco. I believe these are another variety of roasted grasshoppers.

Get your veggies in, along with these creepy white buggers.

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I’m telling you, people are raving over this restaurant. ZAGAT continually gives the restaurant a 4 star rating and has rated their guacamole as the Best in NYC.

Veganos: meet your meal.

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You know when you go to a fancy restaurant and there’s only one thing on the menu and it’s $22 vegetables? Well this is kind of like that (scroll down for more), but the reviews are incredible. The vegetables are all fresh, and we all know how time consuming fresh mole is to prepare. This is gourmet to the max.

Then of course there are tacos.

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While both the owner and chef repeatedly tell news outlets that they brought The Black Ant to the people to show that Mexican food is more than tacos and burritos, their tacos are showstoppers.

This is a piña pastor with avocado purée on a fresh spinach tortilla. Veganos, rejoice.

You can find more traditional (in the modern sense of the word) comidas here, too.

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Like some good ole’ fashioned pollo rostizado (roasted chicken breast). Served with grilled onions, camote purée y chichilo.

Some dishes will have hidden insects.

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The chef told Latin Glam that the key to breaking taboo is to incorporate insects like you would any other food. Hide the face.

“If we don’t have the surprise element, if we see the insects and decide to engage with it, it makes it a little less crazy.”

Although some people are here for the crazy.

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I mean, who hasn’t bought salt and vinegar grasshoppers at your local Sloan’s Ice Cream Shoppe as a teenager just to be edgy? ????????

Now you can be adult, fancy edgy at The Black Ant.

ZAGAT also rates their brunch as Top 10 spots in NYC.

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Don’t worry. These eggs have nothing crazy in them, unless you consider duck confit crazy, which you might if you decide to google it.

Claro, tiene elotes.

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These come with spicy mayo and crab meat, so they’re a little next level. But they’re still our favorite comfort food no matter how you dress them up.

No te preocupes: you can get American things like avocado toast, too.

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Although, támbien lo tiene crab meat. Vegetarians can opt for the Peaches and Cream french toast, which is made of brioche, manchego toast, roasted peaches and cream, pistachios and lavender honey.

Let’s talk about dessert real quick.

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Because they offer “mousse de chocolate,” which is exactly what it sounds like, but with avocado puree, a cacao crumble and coconut sorbet.

Plus, uji matcha churros?! It’s topped with prickly pear gel. I’m drooling.

Pues, dale and get yourself some merengue if you’re not ready for buggy food.

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Whatever your dietary restrictions or expansions are, The Black Ant has something for you. Si se puede, support your local authentic Latino owned restaurants, whether it’s your corner taco stand or the gourmet ant specialty Mexican restaurant in the East Village.

Happy crunching.


READ: 5 Things You Should Know About The Iconic Mezcal Worm

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

Entertainment

This Artist Has Been Breaking Barriers As A Non-Traditional Mariachi

On a recent episode of ABC’s game show To Tell The Truth, three celebrity panelists were tasked to uncover the identity of a real mariachi singer.

Each contender embodied “non-traditional” attributes of mariachi culture either through physical appearance or language barriers, leaving the panelists stumped.

When it came time for the big reveal, with a humble smile 53-year-old Timoteo “El Charro Negro” stood up wowing everyone. Marveled by his talents, Timoteo was asked to perform unveiling his smooth baritone voice.

While not a household name in the U.S., his career spans over 25 years thriving on the catharsis of music.

Timoteo “El Charro Negro” performing “Chiquilla Linda” on Dante Night Show in 2017.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Timoteo, born Timothy Pollard, moved to Long Beach, California with his family when he was eight years old. The move to California exposed Pollard to Latin culture, as the only Black family in a Mexican neighborhood.

As a child, he recalled watching Cantinflas because he reminded him of comedian Jerry Lewis, but musically he “got exposed to the legends by chance.”

“I was bombarded by all the 1960s, ’70s, and ’50s ranchera music,” Timoteo recalls to mitú.

The unequivocal passion mariachi artists like Javier Solis and Vicente Fernandez possessed heavily resonated with him.

“[The neighbors] always played nostalgic music, oldies but goodies, and that’s one thing I noticed about Mexicans,” Timoteo says. “They can be in their 20s but because they’ve grown up listening to the oldies it’s still very dear to them. That’s how they party.”

For as long as he can remember, Pollard “was born with the genetic disposition to love music,” knowing that his future would align with the arts.

After hearing Vicente Fernandez sing “Lástima Que Seas Ajena,” an awakening occurred in Pollard. While genres like hip-hop and rap were on the rise, Pollard’s passion for ranchera music grew. It was a moment when he realized that this genre best suited his big voice.

Enamored, Pollard began to pursue a career as a Spanish-language vocalist.

El Charro Negro
Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

At 28, Timoteo began learning Spanish by listening and singing along to those artists he adored in his youth.

“When I decided that I wanted to be a mariachi, I didn’t think it was fair to exploit the culture and not understand the language,” he says. “If I’m going to sing, I need to be able to communicate with my audience and engage with them. I need to understand what I’m saying because it was about honor and respect.”

Pollard began performing local gigs after picking up the language in a matter of months. He soon attracted the attention of “Big Boy” Radio that adorned him the name Timoteo “El Charro Negro.”

Embellishing his sound to highlight his Black heritage, Pollard included African instruments like congas and bongos in his orchestra. Faintly putting his own spin on a niche genre, Pollard avoided over-saturating the genre’s sound early in his career.

Embraced by his community as a beloved mariachi, “El Charro Negro” still encountered race-related obstacles as a Black man in the genre.

“There are those [in the industry] who are not in the least bit thrilled to this day. They won’t answer my phone calls, my emails, my text messages I’ve sent,” he says. “The public at large hasn’t a problem with it, but a lot of the time it’s those at the helm of decision making who want to keep [the genre] exclusively Mexican.”

“El Charro Negro” persisted, slowly attracting fans worldwide while promoting a message of harmony through his music.

In 2007, 12 years into his career, Pollard received a golden ticket opportunity.

El Charro Negro
Pollard (left) seen with legendary Mexican artist Vicente Fernandez (right) in 2007. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In a by-chance encounter with a stagehand working on Fernandez’s tour, Pollard was offered the chance to perform onstage. The singer was skeptical that the offer was legit. After all, what are the chances?

The next day Pollard went to his day job at the time and said, “a voice in my head, which I believe was God said, ‘wear your blue velvet traje tonight.'”

That evening Pollard went to a sold-out Stockton Area where he met his idol. As he walked on the stage, Pollard recalls Fernandez insisting that he use his personal mic and band to perform “De Que Manera Te Olvido.”

“[Fernandez] said he did not even want to join me,” he recollects about the show. “He just was kind and generous enough to let me sing that song on his stage with his audience.”

The crowd applauded thunderously, which for Pollard was a sign of good things to come.

El Charro Negro
Timoteo “El Charro Negro” with Don Francisco on Don Francisco Presenta in 2011. Photo courtesy of Timothy Pollard.

In 2010, he released his debut album “Me Regalo Contigo.” In perfect Spanish, Pollard sings with great conviction replicating the soft tones of old-school boleros.

Unraveling the rollercoaster of relationships, heart-wrenchingly beautiful ballads like “Me Regalo Contigo” and “Celos” are his most streamed songs. One hidden gem that has caught the listener’s attention is “El Medio Morir.”

As soon as the track begins it is unlike the others. Timoteo delivers a ’90s R&B love ballad in Spanish, singing with gumption as his riffs and belts encapsulate his unique sound and story.

Having appeared on shows like Sabado Gigante, Don Francisco Presenta, and Caso Cerrado in 2011, Timoteo’s career prospered.

Timoteo hasn’t released an album since 2010 but he keeps his passion alive. The singer has continued to perform, even during the Covid pandemic. He has high hopes for future success and original releases, choosing to not slow down from his destined musical journey.

“If God is with me, who can be against me? It may not happen in a quick period of time, but God will make my enemies my footstool,” he said.

“I’ve continued to be successful and do some of the things I want to do; maybe not in a particular way or in particular events, but I live in a very happy and fulfilled existence.”

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