The idea for this post was sparked by an article in the Metro which discussed the idea that because the Department of Health has highlighted that we shouldn’t eat more than 500g of red meat a week, that we should turn to insects as an alternative. Furthermore, I have recently had a series of nightmares involving a variety of insects, so the thought of writing about ways to eat them serves as some sort of revenge for this torture.
Entomophagy, is the consumption of eating insects as food.The idea that eating insects might be a good alternative source of food is perhaps not as silly as it may sound (to a westerner anyway). Eating insects is not new idea, many people all over the world, including those in North, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, already do so. For example, many Japanese enjoy aquatic fly larvae sautéed in sugar and soy sauce, while de-winged dragonflies are boiled in coconut milk with ginger and garlic are a delicacy in Bali. In Latin America cicadas, fire-roasted tarantulas, and ants are all used in traditional dishes. These are just a few examples highlighting that in the west we are perhaps missing out on a whole new range of culinary delights!
The photo below shows a scene from a market in Thailand selling a range of these ‘tasty’ treats including frogs (I know these aren’t insects), silk worm chrysalis, diving beetles, giant water bugs and grasshoppers.
The Guardian produced an article in 2010 which highlighted the benefits of eating insects, mainly as alternative food source for a rapidly growing global population. This article can be viewed here. The UN has estimated that by 2050 there will be a population of around 10.9 billion, which will require food production to increase by 70%. In order to do this, we need to find alternative food sources.
There are even some chefs that have taken to the challenge of using bugs in their work. Marc Dennis a self taught ‘bug chef’ who works in Brooklyn New York has created a variety of nature inspired dishes,including mealworm french fries, banana worm bread, caramel glazed cricket crunch coated flan, chocolate chirp cookies (made with crickets), cricket pad thai and many more. He also has his own website: Insects are Food.
There are a range of places you can purchase these creepy crawly delicacies such as:
A company who state their aims was to ‘broaden the minds and open up the palates’ of people in the western world who have a taste for food which is ‘fairly limited in culinary terms’. These guys have a whole host of weird and wonderful food, not just insects but they do have a special section for ‘insectivores’ including delicacies such as antilix lollipops, BBQ worm crisps, chocolate covered giant ants, chocolate covered scorpion, giant hornet honey, giant toasted leaf-cutter ants, mopani worms, scorpion vodka, scorpions, thai curry crickets and toffee scorpion candy.
Many people have been put off eating insects because of TV shows such as ‘I’m a celebrity get me out of here’ where bush-tucker trials have shown celebrities eating a whole host of near inedible dishes. However, these are probably not the types of dishes you would want to eat on a regular basis (or in some cases, you would ever want to eat). However, there are lots more interesting options for insect based dishes and should you wish to get creative with the creepy crawlies, there is a cook book for such delights: Eat a bug cookbook (shown below)
Now, I’m not advocating that we all go out, move a rock in the garden and dig into an ant colony, but I think we should perhaps be a little more open minded with food and perhaps give one of these creepy crawlies a try.