Mexican Eatery Busted for Serving $26 Endangered Tarantula Taco
If you don't want to get busted, don't put the evidence on Facebook
Here’s a piece of advice you’ve likely gotten from your grandmother before: If you’re going to sell a $26 taco illegally made with a protected species of tarantula, don’t post the evidence to your Facebook page. Unfortunately for a restaurant in Mexico City, however, they had apparently never heard that tidbit from their abuela.
México en el Paladar, a restaurant stall located in a market in Mexico’s capital, serves an intriguing mix of what it calls “pre-Hispanic” cuisine—offering what many modern diners would call adventurous foods like grasshoppers, worms, ant eggs, and even scorpions. One of the eatery’s signature items is a 500 peso tarantula taco—a relatively minimal dish that features one of these charred arachnids atop an avocado-covered tortilla served with a slice of lemon.
Though clearly not everyone’s cup of tea, on its surface, the tarantula taco appears to just be your typical, buzz-seeking bizarre menu item. But this week, the taco has gotten more buzz than it bargained for when Mexico’s federal environmental protection agency seized four tarantula carcasses and determined that they were, in fact, Mexican red rump tarantulas – a protected species that has been deemed vulnerable to extinction.
According to the Associated Press, the government group said the bust was prompted by a post the restaurant put on social media. Even still today, you can see a video on Mexico en el Paladar’s Facebook page showing a tarantula being engulfed in a massive amount of flames in preparation for eating.
As Munchies points out, since the bust, the restaurant has turned back to Facebook to try to make amends. “Indeed PROFEPA [Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente, or ‘Federal Environmental Protection Agency’] went to the premises and advised me in terms of documentation and took the tarantulas because, at the time, I did not have the documentation,” a post states. “Unfortunately, I haven’t taken the time to go get the tarantulas back with the proper documentation. However, that doesn’t mean that I’m not working legally. These days I will go to PROFEPA with the documentation and will make it public for your knowledge, and for my part I will stop selling [the tacos] until I resolve everything with PROFEPA.”
However, as one Facebook commenter pointed out, the price of the taco alone was a red flag. “I was seriously concerned when I saw that the cost of the taco is 500 Mexican pesos, which tells me that the variety you sell most likely come from illegal capture, since no specimen of the size you show and assure come from a hatchery would have that ridiculous price,” they wrote. It’s good advice. In fact, you should probably be suspicious of any single taco with a pricetag like that—no matter what kind of animal has been tossed in.