In 80% of the worlds nations, bugs and insects are consumed on a daily basis. But here in the United States, entomophagy is more of a taboo subject, then a normal practice. Humans eating insects dates back to prehistoric times. But what makes Americans so disturbed at a seemingly normal choice of food?
About 5 years ago, I purposefully ate some ants. I was with a good friend in a park when we came upon an ant hill of sorts. Using a folded up piece of paper, we collected as many ants as we could, then after nibbling a bit, took them home and made a large batch of chocolate. The chocolate base was the perfect delivery system, making the ants hardly noticeable. Certainly a safe attempt for me.
Fast forward a few years to June in Maine. Again, I am with my same friend who noticed the infamous June bugs collecting by the dozens on the screen door. Easy to catch, we decided to start collecting and before we knew it, we had a rather large harvest in a Mason jar. So I broke out the trusty frying pan and began cooking them in a little coconut oil until crisp. A touch of salt and down the hatch! Crisp, salty, perfect! All the preconceived notions of the mealy, slimy texture was thrown out the window and I actually enjoyed every bit. Hilarious to see our partners in pure distaste by our cider induced hunger that evening, but even still I was sold.
One of my favorite restaurants is Miya's Sushi, run by chef Bun Lai in New Haven, Connecticut often offers up an insect of two on his menu. Specializing in invasive species and sustainable seafood, Bun will often chef up crisp larva and during an epic population to Connecticut in the summer of 2013, cicadas. Word of his cicada cooking lead to being spoofed on SNL. An article regarding his cicada delights can be read here on the Huffington Post.
All the research is leaning towards insects being a sustainable source of protein, one that requires less land, water, and feed then industrial beef. An article in Time breaks it down further for us.
Putting insects on the dinner plate is still a bit rare for me, but when the time is right, or the harvest is grand, I will certainly partake.
So, are you into eating insects? Any memorable meals to share?