Grasshopper tacos with Fried Tarantula on the side

Bug Eatin, courtesy of PBS

I’ll start with the unfortunate news, and as a waiver, I have never tried a prepared insect meal or item. Sure, I’ve eaten the occasional bug that flies into my mouth or a worm from back in the day, but I have yet to seize the opportunity to eat a real bug. Recently, I’ve come across some links involving appetizing meals that include insects. Some have been stumbled upon and others sent to me. Eating an insect is still a lot more popular outside of the United States than in them. Places like Cambodia and Thailand specialize in fried bugs, Central Africa is known for snacking on ants, while Mexico is also known for inserting them in various meals. In fact, 4 out of 5 people worldwide eat insects regularly.

For those adventurous enough to seek insects to eat, do not fear. There are some brave chefs in America that do incorporate what is known as entomophagy, the eating of insects. In fact, less than a month ago the New York Times had a set of articles dedicated to the habit. First, they described an $85 dollar dinner event at the Brooklyn Kitchen highlighting the flavors and uniqueness that these insects offer.

Scorpion Soup

They also discuss some history of insects in food and talk with famous eaters like Andrew Zimmern from Bizarre Foods. To go along with the article, the NY Times setup a Q&A for Zimmern to discuss the bug world and some other items. And in case you wanted some recipes, NYT has you covered. They tell you the insects you can eat and some of the ways to eat them.

Of course, New York isn’t the only place interested in this kind of food. While, New York and L.A. often see the beginnings of fads around the country, there are plenty of other places interested in this bug world. At the University of Wisconsin (hey, I go there!) a former professor, Gene DeFoliart, used to do quite a bit of research on the topic. He ran a website called http://www.food-insects.com. At the website you can get the newsletter that he and other professors from around the country contributed to regarding the subject.

Now, we’ll move on to what you’re really interested in. The what to eat, who to eat, how to eat. First, we’ll start with Rick Bayless and his grasshopper tacos.

“If there’s one dish that Chicago’s super chef Rick Bayless wishes Chicagoans would lighten up about and learn to love, it’s: “Grasshopper tacos. Whenever I mention them, it always elicits a gasp from people because all they focus on is the most bizarre qualities of that particular dish. The Mexicans have been eating insects for centuries …”

That quote came from the Chicago Tribune in 2007, and he isn’t the only one attempting to keep that tradition going in the United States. Robert Sietsma talks about his own experiences trying out grasshopper tacos in Philadelphia. And for those thinking grasshoppers don’t have any benefits, he’s quick to mention protein is twice as much as beef and there are plenty of nutrients available within.

So now that we have been tasting some grasshopper tacos, how about some fried tarantula? One man, Jerry Hopkins has tried pretty much everything you could imagine in the world, including these Cambodian treats (On a side note, read about him trying his son’s placenta, not sure if even I could do that). Darrin DuFord takes a real look at the history and how to eat fried tarantulas. And, if you prefer another insect to be fried, checkout this Phucket dining guide. Of course, in America this delicacy is a lot harder to come by. So, let’s instead move on to dessert.

I’ll start you with a chocolate ant recipe. If you’re too lazy or gross to do it yourself, order them from the candy warehouse.

I’m assuming for those still left, the lingering why still remains. First, those food fearing nations might need to truly suck it up and eat insects for the fact that food supplies aren’t what they used to be. The article also talks about a great salad with crickets if interested.  Also from the article, the most telling part of this battle that will creep up quicker than people think:

“The world is already struggling to feed itself, a crisis that shows no signs of abating unless population trends make a sudden U-turn over the next five decades. The oceans are being plundered at such a rate that – according to a recent UN report – even if we halve the number of fishing trawlers operating, fish stocks would still be unable to replenish themselves quickly enough to recover. Developing world nations such as India, China and Brazil, meanwhile, are cultivating their own rapidly expanding middle classes who are emulating the West in their demand for meat.”

In addition to the carrying capacity and food supply, general environmental effects are very important. The more animals killed, the worse it is for the environment as a whole.

“The livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport. It is also a major source of land and water degradation.”

That report from the United Nations in 2006 helps explain why eating bugs might not be so bad in the long run to get your protein.  This article from Discover magazine helps break it down a little more.

Alright, so we’ve reached the end. Here’s one more in depth look at the culture of entomophagy.  And favorite bugs from around the world from PBS. (I felt obligated since the picture at the top is theres after all.)

And some helpful recipes:

A variety of grasshopper recipes including Grasshopper Fritters.

Recipes from Clemson, including Mealworm spaghetti.

Banana Wormbread and a host of others.

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About Benjie Klein
Born on a cold day in 1984 my eyes opened for the first time gazing hazily and it was clear, I knew nothing. Over time, however, that has changed. Hi, I'm Benjie Klein, currently enrolled as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin in the Mass Communications and Journalism MA program. After receiving a bachelors degree at Michigan State University I worked for the Detroit Tigers and Lions before taking a year off to travel (adventures can be learned about at http://benjieofftheleash.blogspot.com/). Now I embark on a journey to tell you not of myself, but the world of technology and the way it continues to shape the world we live in. In addition, every once in a while I'll throw in some sports related commentary or just general ideas on life in a journalistic manner, of course.

2 Responses to Grasshopper tacos with Fried Tarantula on the side

  1. Pingback: Bugged By Diets « The Meandering Matriarch

  2. Pingback: Entomophagy « Notes from the West

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