In prehispanic times, Mexican Indians commonly ate insects. This custom has survived up to present, especially in regions with large concentrations of Indian populations. We describe the ways in which insects are collected, prepared and consumed in an area of the Mixtec Highands, in the State of Oaxaca. Mixtec pensants recognize at least sixteen edible insects, front twelve different familles and five Orders : Coleoptera, Hemiptera, Hymenoptera, Lepidoptera and Orthoptera. The insects are collected either on spécial expeditions or casually in thé course of agricultural work. Most of them are grilled. On/y one species is eaten olive, and some insects are prepared in more elaborate ways. AU préparations are in accordance with a symbolic System based on notions of hot and cold and wet and dry. Insects, although rich in proteins, are not seen by Mixtecs as an emergency food, as many people might have thought, but rather as a rare delicacy.
Mexico, Mixtecs, Insects, Food, Symbolism.