Transcript: Ep. 2 - Mexico | Sep 11, 2017

Brown insects mill around the hole in the ground leading to their nest.
(eerie theme music plays)

A young man with a blue cap speaks to the screen. Lush tropical vegetation is
in the background. As the camera pans around in a fast clip, different
team members appear and captions read "Ben Reade, Head of Culinary Research
and Josh Evans, Lead Researcher." Young, long-faced Josh gingerly empties
a large insect from a container jar.

A fast clip shows the team digging up insects and preparing them as food.
Some are presented as colourful gourmet dishes.

Josh says Our goal is trying
to make more tasty food
available to more people.
To try and learn
from these cultures.
There are A man says y cultures
around the world,
where insects
are not just eaten
but where they
are a delicacy.
I mean, as a food it
kicks ass, basically.

A local inhabitant opens up a cocoon and exclaims "Oh, it's alive!"
A young man with long dark hair wearing a floppy hat looks at viewers
making a surprised face. A caption reads "Andreas Johnsen... Filmmaker."
Other teammakers cook insects.
(drumming music plays)

Ben says What we realized
is the techniques
are way more diverse than
we'd possibly ever imagined.
How to cook insects?
It would be like saying
how to cook mammals,
how to cook birds?
So we treat them differently.

The team introduce themselves to an audience of local inhabitants. One with
curly red hair says "Hi, I'm Ben." A dark-haired one says "I'm Josh."
Over utside and indoor images of Nordic Food Lab a caption reads "Copenhagen
Nordic Food Lab."

Ben, in a Scottish accent, continues We're from Nordic Food Lab.
Nordic Food Lab is a not-for-profit,
open-source foundation.
And we aim to explore deliciousness.
And It's from this angle
we came to the insects-thing.

The screen fades to black.

Over factory noise, creepy-crawlies pour off a conveyor belt. Ben stands with
a female colleague sampling insects as food, nods and says "Okay."
(humming and clanking)

In off, A man says Everyone will be better off
if we eat a fair amount
of insects in our lives.
[theme music plays]

A full-screen title caption reads "Bugs... Mexico." An atlas homes in
on Puerto Mexico, which flashes in red, and Mexico City. A view from
a car shows scenery going by, including scrubland. The driver is a
Mexican wearing dark glasses. A caption reads "Jose Carlos Redon,
Escamoles Farmer." they stop at a square stone building on a rise.
(rhythmic music plays)

To viewers, Ben says Let's go
and check this place out.
I'm excited.

To Jose, he says So, what is the aim
of this place?

Jose says We are at Teotlacualli,
that's the name of this project,
which is a sustainable farm
to protect and preserve the ecosystem
focused on insects and edible plants.
What we basically do here
is to give the insects,
mainly the escamoles
and other insects
like the gusanos de maguey,
chiminquiles, which is also gusanos
de maguey, but red, and live
in the roots, xahues that lives
on the mesquite trees.

Semi-transparent pink segmented worms squirm on a red surface. A caption
reads "Gusanos de Nopal." Different cacti appear. Captions read "Aloe Vera
Flower," "Garambullo Flower" and "Maguey."

Jose continues And we also have the nopal worm,
which is very characteristic of this area.
Aloe vera flowers, garambullo flowers,
and then we've replanted some magueys
as well because this is an area,
that produces pulque.

A man pours white maguey sap into a container to make pulque.

Jose continues Not only for pulque,
but for the insects.
Basically, preserve this as much as possible
in their natural ecosystem.

The team enter a rather smelly room and exclaim "Oh!"

Opening a plastic bag containing yellow particles, Jose says Alright... so, what we have here is the frozen escamoles.

Josh says They are big.

Jse says We are talking
about queens. So, these are
like royal ants.
for a hundred queens there is one
that is being able to set
a new nest or survive.
These are like basically "royal caviar."

A caption reads "Alessandro Spanguolo, Escamolero."

This worker in a mexican straw hat says Escamoles are so sought-after,
you can find them all
year long in restaurants
and they're such a delicacy!
they can go as to maybe
fifty euros for a plate
or something, of escamoles,
when they are off season..

Josh says And they just freeze them?

Alessandro says They freeze them,
keep them all year.
And actually that
damages the quality,
the freshness,
the flavor and it's not...
After a while, you're not
getting what you are paying for.

Ben says Like of course,
if the price gets so high,
then something can get hunted
into extinction, right?
So, then you
can basically,
like, completely ruin
the natural ecosystem.

Josh says People are taking advantage
of the fact that insects
recently are becoming
really green-washed,
and then try to
capitalize on that,
by saying we should be
mass-producing insects.
But then they say like,
oh but we are doing it,
because we want
to feed the world
and because people will
need more protein
and all these things.
And most people end up
sort of parroting each other.

Ben says So, people start thinking,
for example,
insects are sustainable,
so then anything you do
with insects is sustainable...
Automatically.
But what would be
ideal is to, you know,
work out the sustainability
of it, like, properly.

riding in the back of a lorry, Alessandro says The full circle, you know.
Helping the families that
know how to gather them,
putting them in
the restaurants
that know how to cook them
and then give it to the people
that love to eat them.

Ben says Yeah.
So, should we follow
these guys?
Are these guys going
to find a nest?

Pointing, Alessandro says It's over there.

Ben says Lets do it.

A worker helps them. A caption reads "Armando Sora Castanela, Escamolero."

Armando says You see the ant?
We call this "caminito" - little way.
There are three or four ways
in any direction.

The ants crawl along their track among the stones in the mud.

Pointing, Armando says This is the sign
that takes them to the nest.

Ben says Wow, the smell is amazing.
Do I wanna dig in there?

Josh says You have to tuck in your
shoes, ehh, your socks.

Ben says Ah, 'cause all
the ants will get me.
Can you show me?

The digging Armando says You must do this with the hand...
gently, very gently.

Ben says Okay.

Armando says Pick up, okay?

Ben says Right.
Everything in this place
either bites you or spikes you.
That's the choice.
[groans]
Oh, I got a few.
I didn't get that many
They're biting me everywhere.

Josh says There is one
on the ground over there.
Watch out.
You just dropped two kroners.

Ben says Two kroner each?
Fucking hell.
It's just like...
(slapping at insects)

Josh says Yeah, I told you.

Ben says Yeah, you told me.
You were right.

Josh says Yeah, but you
didn't get any.
Come on, you have to
go back and get some.

Another team member says Yeah, this nest has
already been inspected.

Some men take off their shirts, wiping insects away.
Josh takes photos.
[laughing]
[twanging music plays]

Josh says Can I?

Armando says Remember, gently, very gently.
[groans]

Josh says Makes you feel alive.
I feel like the bee-man,
except not "at one."
with the colony.

Ben says Definitely at war.
The smell is just
all up in your face.
You can't breathe with it.

Josh says To me the smell
is really like young,
blue goat's-milk cheese.

Ben says Let's see what stages we got?

On an open hand, a white pupa and a yellow larva egg are identified.

Josh says This one is a pupa.
This one's a larva.
Shall we taste the difference?
I'll swap you.
What are you going for first?
Are you going for a larva?

Ben says Oh, wow!

Josh says It has such
a distinct flavor.
What is that flavor?

Ben says It's a bit reminiscent
of avocado actually.
And again, it's got
a green nutty flavor
like this fresh almond
thing going on.
Not really sure if
I like the way the skin
sticks around in your mouth.
But the juice that goes
everywhere is absolutely divine.

Jose says We monitor the nests.
And we make sure
if the nest is not ready,
we leave it and we keep
it until it is ready.
We have to protect them
because there are thieves,
and they're going to open it,
and they're not gonna take care of it.
They are just gonna pull
off everything they can
and sell it.
They damage the whole
system that's around,
not only the ecosystem,
but the economy
of the local people,
so it is important.

A worker says The cow meat contains
14 percent of protein. This 68!

Josh says Good work.

Ben says We're gonna clean.
Okay, we've
got loads here!
And you blow them,
and then they come faster? Okay.
You see. Okay. Lots.

Ben says Pulque.

The worker says Pulque?

Ben says You can't do this
without a drink.

They both take a swig of white pulque.

The worker says Salud.

They toast and do a handclasp.

Ben says It's gonna be an action-packed
afternoon, basically.

They shake a blue strainer bag to separate the eggs from the soil,
then wash them in a sieve. They then slice vegetables and prepare
the insects for a meal.

Josh says Can I try?
[child speaking foreign language]
It's a timing-thing, I think.

Ben says I'm losing the game, huh?
Okay, okay. Closer. Okay?

Slicing one for the grill, Jose says The prickly pear cactus.

Ben says Nopales, onion,
and just briefly
the larvae - the eggs.
Anything else? Nothing.

Spooning condiments, Josh says A little bit of this jazz...
A little bit of this jazz.

Ben says This is by a long shot
the most real tortilla I've ever tasted.
Escamoles, nixtamalized corn,
it's just very real, you know?
It's like, there's no
shit going on here.
This is like proper food.

Jose says My wife, she loves it.
For me it's a really
high accomplishment,
because she is
a vegetarian.
[laughs]
So maybe I will never
have her eat meat,
but I will make her
eat insects.
You have to taste
the escamoles.
It's like amazing.
(rhythmic music plays)

On the animated map of Mexico, Mexico City flashes in red. A tall modern
spade-like skyscraper with vertically striated walls stands in the higher
downtown area of Mexico City. A sculpture of a grasshopper stands among
statues in a park. Josh and ben walk in the downtown area, munching
sandwiches. They approach a busy market. A food stand displays shellfish,
and tubs full of insects.

Jose says The way to keep an economy
flowing for the project
we are suppliers
of very high end restaurants
in Mexico City
that understand what
we are doing here,
the process,
the quality of the food
that we are collecting.

singing, Ben says Oh, we're going off
to Pujol, Pujol, Pujol.

Josh says Loud voices in
small places.

Ben says We're going off to Pujol
hip, hip, hip, hip hurrah

Andreas says And what is Pujol?

Ben says Some like... little
greasy spoon diner. They serve fried eggs.

(music plays)

Walking on the street, they approach a restaurant.

Watching the chef sifting insects, Josh says Which ones
is he taking out?

Jose says He is taking the ones that are flat
and the broken ones and the ones that
look more like ants.
[speaking foreign language]

Ben says What does a kilo
of escamoles cost?

Jose says If you go to this
market in San Juan, it can be
anything between 1300 and 1500.

A caption reads "13 to 1500 pesos equals 70 to 100 dollars."

Ben says And how much escamoles
do you serve each person?

Jose says Around seventy to ninety grams.
Above a hundred and thirty grams
is like not recommended at all
because your body may react
to this amount of protein.
It will cause you...
I don't know, maybe a rash
on your skin.
Maybe in your throat, or something.

A hand serves a piece of thin folded bread containing a jumbled mishmash
with seasoning over it. A caption reads "Escamoles Taco."

Ben takes it and bites.

He says Lovely. Thank you... Okay!
Mmm! It's so good.

He hands it to Josh, who also takes a bite.

the bearded chef stands beside their table. A caption reads "Enrique Olivera,
Head Chef, Pujol.

Enrique says We don't see
escamoles as insects.
We just see it as a food.
I don't know who said this,
but it's true, honey is vomit,
so if you really think
about it, it's weird.
But people don't think
about it cause it's normal.
To me the most
important thing is,
it needs to taste good.
If it tastes good
then it doesn't matter.

Over a three-way split screen showing a grub, yellow globes and a wasp's
nest, captions read "Butter Worms, Honey Ants and Wasp Larvae."
(lively music plays)

On the animated map, the city of Nochixtlan appears in red.

Ben shakes hands with a man and says Ben.

To Jose, Ben says Everyone's coming? Okay.
We're going on a serious mission.
We got granny coming.
She's born in 1930. It's now 2014, that's 84!

The white-haired, toothless Granny appears. A caption reads "Aurelia Soriano
Hernandez, Bughunter."

Jose says She is the leader.

Ben says So, we're talking
traditional knowledge, like, banging!

[speaking foreign language]
A man called Israel says We're getting ready to go out to get some
honey ants, and we're also going to bring back some butter works called
"los dolores de Mixteco or Ticoco."

Jose says Mama is already on the road.

Ben says What a don!
Look at her. Look at her go! Mama!
[laughs]

[speaking foreign language]
Mama says "the worms are inside the old trunks. The trees have been lying
around for years."

Ben says I hope they have that kind of
"insects-that-live-inside-
rotten-wood" smell.
Should I explain we're
a couple of members down?

Andreas says Where is Josh ?

Ben says Well, I mean,
it's the thing with being
"gastronauts," you know.

On the street previously, Josh says This onion-thing is a bit much for me.

Ben says Eating absolutely anything
that crosses your path,
eventually something's gonna...
something's gonna get you.
(Speaking foreign language)
There's a nice dead
tree down there.
This is how the next generations,
they learn how to collect this stuff,
like, this is her land, she knows
everything about it
and she must have learned
that from her grandmother
and, you know, she's passing that on.
It's vital.
[speaking foreign language]

The local guide says We can identify them because now here there's a hole,
look! We can see that this is just soil... it's pure sawdust... it's
completely decomposed.

The guides hack at the rotten log with an axe. Mama looks on approvingly.
One of them leans over the open log, smelling it.

Ben says This is post-modernist!
Look at her, inspecting how he does it.
The thing is, she's thinking fucking hell,
he can go through a tree,
he is built like a brick shithouse,
when is he gonna give
me some grandkids?
[laughs]
They're smelling the wood,
they're touching it, they're feeling
the consistency of the powder.
Looking at how it's rotten,
specific characteristics of it.
With every little chunk that comes off,
there's a whole inspection-process.
[whistles] Wow!
[speaking foreign language]

The guide feels inside the wood and says It's dead.
Ben disagrees, and the man pokes around with a hook and pulls a grub out.

Ben says It's alive!

To viewers, Ben says I can see it
wriggling in there.
There's a bit of panic.
It knows the hunt is on.
This thing is weird.
It looks like it's turning
into something else.
It's got legs and... Apparently,
this has the best flavor.

Ben holds a fat wriggly grub between his fingers.

Ben says Oh, wow! Extraordinary.
Look at that movement.
That is so funny.
This is "guazano de mantequilla."
We collect them up.
Mama wants it in her cup
and then we're gonna try
and find some others.

Mama's daughter, holding a baby gets the cup and laughs.
[laughter]

Ben continues There is talk of finding
one each for everyone.
But when we mentioned
finding one per head
they were like, they'd be disappointed
if we find one per head.

Jose says He is talking about 500
in this type of, like, this size of tree.

Ben says I mean, I'd say we
hacked up probably
between five and ten
percent... and find one.
The white man brings bad luck.
[speaking foreign language]

The guide says It's a worm... it's evolution.

Holding one up, Ben says It's like a special snake,
that's specifically designed
for slipping through really
tight holes of wood.
It's really weird,
'cause it's kind of translucent.
It looks like it's got
like a load of muscles
inside a polythene bag or something.

The men hack off a piece of wood and uncover a nest of grubs. They pull
a big one out.
[speaking foreign language]

Ben continues It's like a mega-one.
And it's strong... Look how strong it is.
But you don't eat it?

Jose says You don't eat that one.

Ben says Okay.

Jose says It is called
the "gallina ciega."
It's the blind chicken.
So, it's a plaque.

Holding it, Ben says Look, it's trying
to bite its pwn ass. Very weird.
It's gonna fit. Consider him dead.
Fuck a duck. Oh, I'd love to take
one of them as a sample
but that would upset people,
wouldn't it?
This is always
the problem, it's like,
"do you take the good sample
or do you eat the good sample?"
The picture of plenty.
I think we had success.
(tinkling music plays)

Mama gathers wood and lights a bonfire. They roast them in a tin, stirring
them around as they cook.

Ben says Granny just rustled up a fire,
just because she can, 'cause she's a boss.

Holding two cups full of grubs, Jose says Treats. Quite some bugs.

Ben says They're gonna
get a bit charred,
a bit of salt there.
I'm sure, like, naturally
you would come out here,
you'd collect them
and then you'd eat them
and that would be
your food, you know,
while you're out here.
And that would be enough,
like they're seriously fatty things.
They smell absolutely delicious;
my mouth is watering!

To Jose, Ben holds one near his mouth and says Just like this? Yeah?

Jose says Just like that.

Ben says Wow! Yeah, it's really
good but... I think it's
probably the...
Yeah, the digestive
tract it's like... It's tannic.
Yeah, it's drying.
It's like roast pork
with a kind of good dosing
of barrel aging.
[speaking foreign language]

The granny gestures and says "Really good!"

Jose says Are you going to taste
this more developed worm?

Taking a bite, Ben says It's got these amazing little
undeveloped wings and stuff.
Okay. Yeah! Definitely much better.
That's the butter... It's smooth.
It doesn't have the digestive
tract full of wood, like the other one has.
A little bit of...

Spitting, Ben says A little bit of wing
and stuff that gets left over
and I got a faceful of smoke.
But this is so, so, so tasty...

Andreas says Toasted butter, basically.

Ben says I just had no idea what
was going to be in there.
I think you should try one.
Should I film you trying it?
You got me?
I'm crying, because of the smoke.

Holding it, Andreas says This is a huge one. Ah!

Ben says How is that?

Andreas says Mmmm!
[speaking foreign language]
Delicious!

Ben says There's one left
Is it overzealous of me
to go for it?
I think, I can, can I? Luxury!

He wraps it in a taco with hot sauce and takes a bite.

Ben continues For the good of gastronomy,
I'm gonna remove the wings.
Worth all the effort... Worth all the effort!

Andreas says Too bad Josh says isn't here.

They walk back.
(tinkling music plays)

Ben says Yeah, it's too bad
Josh isn't here. It's beautiful.
It's not just because
there's a camera...
they do it as a family.
We've got the young guy
holding hands with the grandma...
leading the way,
and everyone follows,
and that's just the way it is,
it's like food collection
is this massively bonding experience.
It's a really community-based thing.
It's not only eating food together,
which brings people together.
It's also going out to get it.

A wild dog walks near them.

Ben says Watch this wild dog. He has a weird mix.

[speaking foreign language]
The granny notices a round hole on the path.
Mama says dig here!

Jose says She's telling him to dig here.

Ben says And then you can see
which direction it goes in.
If you ever wondered why
there's bad roads in Mexico,
it's 'cause the ants
like living in the roads.

With a long pole, the guide opens up a hole in the road and ants with huge
yellow bags on their tails appear.

Trying one, Ben says Wow! Hey! Oh, wow!
Wow, that's really honeyed.
Rich, rich, rich honey.
I need one for a sample.
Bum. Done... Perfecto.
These guys are experts.
On the way home we just
quickly dig a quick hole,
get a few honey-ants.
You know, this is what it is about.
These guys know what
they're talking about.
They're in touch with nature.
Oh look, see it's just like
they see a little stone...
Underneath the stone,
there's two of them.
Of course they were.
They just don't get it wrong.
Oh, it's like eating jelly-bellies.
Each time you have one,
it's just, like,
different from the last one.
It's like you just got a meat one
and then you got a Sauterne one
and then you got a A mango
and then you got a lemongrass.
[speaking foreign language]

Jose translates and says Special technique.
(laughter)
It's a nice style.
Nineteen and we've
already eaten, like, five.
Oh, you have it
on your fingers.
They popped out
the wrong way.
It's like the best candy ever.
This like shits on candy.
This shits all over candy.
It doesn't get more
serious than this.
Regardless of insects,
in terms of food and drink
and anything else,
like... it doesn't get any better.
They're just like
crystal balls of...
I feel like Louis Quinze
or something like this,
because what I'm going to do,
is eat two at the same time.
You know, it's just like wrong.
You just shouldn't do it...
You just shouldn't do it.
Mmm! I think the Forrest Gump
quote should go...
"life is like a hive of honey-ants,"
you just don't know
what you're gonna get...
Fucking amazing!
Yeah, let's go find wasps
and we'll all get stung.

A guide points to a bush by the roadside.
[speaking foreign language]

Ben says How are you gonna film this?
[guide whistles]

Ben asks Jose Is he nervous?
[speaking foreign language]

To Jose, Ben says Can you explain
what's happening?

The guide, holding up a thumb, says These are the wasps... look at
their sting!

The wasp stings the guide, pumping in poison.

Jose says Basically once
the hive is taken,
they're gonna automatically
put themselves into a
defense-attack position,
so whatever they're gonna find
in their way they're gonna sting.

Ben says So is it best, that we
leave the camera somewhere?

Jose says Better.

Ben continues And then we run with the nest,
and then Andreas can come
back ten minutes later
and get the camera?
[speaking foreign language]

Covering his head with a hood, a guide says Just put the camera there,
recording, and leave!
(laughter)

Ben says I mean there's not really
any denying the craziness
of the situation.
[speaking foreign language]

Jose says I have a sombrero.
[laughter]
More hats!

Ben says The hats are doing nothing.
It's brilliant.
And no one argues.
It's like, "I need another hat,
I need another hat."

to Jose, Ben says So, but wait... Shouldn't we
get out of here first?
Where is he going to dump it?
You don't know what he's pointing at?
Where is what going to happen?

Jose says He is going to shake the nest
as much as possible
to get rid of all the wasps.
And then, if he can get
rid of all the wasps,
he's gonna grab it and he is
going to run with the hive.
(dramatic music plays)
[speaking foreign language]

With Andreas, Ben walks away and says Is this far enough away
or do we have to keep running?
[speaking foreign language]

(music plays)

[speaking foreign language]
The white-hooded guide runs up holding the empty hive and throws
it on the ground. Andreas and Ben approach it gingerly. Andreas stands
over it and whisks it with a shrub. Jose then opens it up.

Andreas says Okay!
[speaking foreign language]

Ben says Oh!, I expected it
to be papery
and then it warmed up...
and it felt papery,
and then it warmed up
and it became waxy.
Still with some paper.
It was kind of like cardboard
drenched in honey.
We met at twenty past
five this morning and it's now
a quarter past three,
so we spend about ten hours
getting ingredients,
now we're gonna go and cook.
(rhythmic music plays)
Mama doesn't stop.
She is like the legend.
She's the one that
keeps the fire burning.
We get the larvae out... Bueno?
[speaking foreign language]

Mama nods and says "It's edible."

Ben says I don't know how hot
these chilies are,
but they're so aromatic.
I'm putting in the wasp-larvae.
[speaking foreign language]

Mama tries one and says "We have to try them... delicious!"

Ben says Wow, that's a compliment.
That's high praise.
[speaking foreign language]

A cook spreads sauce on the tamales and then the larva.

Ben says It looks divine.
I'm obsessed with tamales
and this is like
definitely the most
exiting I've seen
so far and it's...
always one of these ones.

To the cook, he says Okay, and then we put it
upside down in there.
Can I try making one?

To viewers, wrapping a tamale, he says Let's get two in there.
I like this stuff,
I'm not... God, I'm making a right
hash-up of this.
Here we go. Is this...
So I go like this
and like this
and then Ben says do it over there
and stick it in there
and I made my first tamale!
Ahh... It looks like
a tamale, right? It's okay?

The cook nods.

Ben says Okay!
There's its little
head sticking out.
We got epazote
and the salsa.

To viewers, he says So many people have taken
us all over the world
and you never know what
they are gonna show you.
And what we've been shown today
is like a really intimate
knowledge of nature.
And a really intimate
knowledge of food
and how those two things can coincide.

Jose says And we need to really say
thank you very much.
Really, really thank you... Muchas gracias.

Over a fast clip of the village and the conversation, the end credits roll.

Ben says You see how swollen his hand is?
The best thing to do
to not get a swollen hand,
is probably not to go
stealing nests from wasps.
[speaking foreign language]

(theme music plays)

Director, Cinematographer Andreas Johnsen.

Producer, Sigrid Dyeckjaer, P.G.A.

Film Editors, Thor Ochsner, Frederik Strunk.

Post Production, Kong Gulerod Film.

Various Logos.

Produced by Rosforth Danish Documentary.

Watch: Ep. 2 - Mexico