IN CHAPULINES WE TRUST (2018)
In Chapulines We Trust
A photo essay by Laura S. Diaz
This collection of photos were created to illustrate a photo assignment and article on edible insects, Virydiana Velarde and her business, Merci Mercado.
Virydiana Velarde, founder of Merci Mercado, orders brunch at Guadalupe Inn in Brooklyn, New York on December 9, 2018. The restaurant is one of her many clients, to whom she supplies grasshoppers.
2. Chapulines and Queso
Chapulines - grasshopers - top a skillet of queso fundido - melted cheese - at Guadalupe Inn in Brooklyn, New York on December 9, 2018. Grasshoppers are a traditional source of protein in several areas in Mexico, as many insects species are around the world.
Virydiana Velarde poses for the camera as she enjoys a bite of chapulines and queso fundido at Guadalupe Inn in Brooklyn, New York on December 9, 2018. The edible insects are paired with queso fundido and entrées of the sort in Mexican cuisine.
Many times, mezcal tastings are served with orange slices, grasshoppers, and a little chile and salt. A demonstration with water (left) illustrates how a tasting would look like at Guadalupe Inn.
4. Guadalupe Inn Team
Sous-chef Roberto Garduño (left), Virydiana Velarde (center) and Teresa Escobar, general manager of Guadalupe Inn, talk about different ways to serve Velarde’s product - edible insects - in different ways at Guadalupe Inn in Brooklyn, New York on December 9, 2018.
5. Dos Caminos at Times Square
Virydiana Velarde takes a picure of one her company’s products - dry edible grasshoppers - topping a molcajete of guacamole at Dos Caminos in Times Square, New York on December 11, 2018. “You need to fry them a little before adding them” to humid foods said Velarde, “if not, they’ll be too grassy.”
6. Rosie’s Dispenser
A chipotle-flavored grasshopper dispenser stands on the reception podium at Rosie’s in the East Village, New York on December 12, 2018. “Kids reactions are the best! They either really love them or get freaked out by them,” said Rolan Meyer, general manager of the restaurant.
At least two billion people practice entomophagy – the practice of eating bugs – regularly, reported the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
7. Mexico is The Shit
Virydiana Velarde tries on a “Daughter of an Immigrant” beanie at Miscelanea NY on East 4th Street in New York on December 12, 2018. Velarde provides the Mexican convenience store with dry grasshoppers in three different seasonings and mezcal worm salt.
8. In Chapulines We Trust
Guillaume Guevara, founder of Miscelanea NY*, poses for the camera as Virydiana Velarde, founder of Merci Mercado, fixes her business’ jacket. Guevara and Velarde are business partners*; Velarde provides edible grasshoppers and worm salt and Guevara a brick-and-mortar local to sell and promote them.
9. On the Run
Virydiana Velarde walks through the subway station on 42nd Street at Times Square in New York on December 11, 2018. Having to commute between Long Island City and her clients, “you have to plan very well,” said Velarde.
Virydiana Velarde walks her daughter Maya, 4, after picking her up from school to her after-school activities in Long Island City, New York on December 11, 2018. After working for the Mexican embassy and starting her edible insect business, Velarde splits her time between motherhood and edible insects, but mostly motherhood.
* = Since the reporting of this story, Miscelanea NY has permanently closed its doors as of June 16, 2019.
Merci Mercado is effectively in business (July 2019).