If you’re a fan of glossy sweets such as jelly beans, candy coated chocolates and sprinkles or you gravitate toward edibles that are dyed brilliant red, then you’re already consuming lac beetle secretions and the pulverized, boiled bodies of cochineal beetles. Bet you didn’t realize just how much of a gustatory daredevil you actually are! Augmenting your diet with a few more crispy critters shouldn’t make you flinch, plus they just so happen to be teeming with protein and fiber (thanks to all of those shells and wee little appendages) and are considered to be one of the truest sustainable alterni-foods around. So, no need to reach for the Pepto-Bismol, seasoned insect-eaters of the world, this bug’s for you!
Going Loco For Locusts!
(Images via: Factoidz, Peace Corps, Herald Sun, FAO, Ilxor, Daylife, Kitsukartika)
According to the Book of Exodus, the eighth plague that befell Egypt involved locusts, and lots of ’em. Notorious for plowing through crops in record time, the Australian city of Mildura is currently in the throes of their very own short-horned grasshopper battle with as many as 500 of the gorging buggers occupying each square meter. Their solution? Chow time! While the plentiful invaders contain more than 50% protein, they also have a higher level of fat in their small little bodies than an average serving of McDonald’s French fries…but sometimes you’ve just gotta take one for the team. Residents are currently indulging in locust-laden recipes as diverse as pizza and chocolate chirp cookies to fritters and savory peanut-stuffed wok fried snacks, but they really should consider adding Mexican avocado-locust tacos to the lineup, too. They’re reportedly lip-smackin’ good.
Arachnid-Palooza, Even In Booza!
(Images via: Sushi 85, Swimming Freestyle, China View, Travel Webshots, Logan Jaffe, Thailand Unique)
Long valued in traditional medicine for their purported ability to aid the throat, lungs and heart, certain Asian cultures (particular within Cambodia) only resorted to noshing on the eight leggers out of desperation during the dictatorship of Pol Pot. Spiders as well as a multitude of other critters were the reason why people were able to save themselves from certain starvation and somewhere along the line, the habit just stuck. With a head and body that taste somewhat like cod crossed with chicken, spiders are supposedly rather appealing and work quite well when incorporated into a wide variety of menu items…that is, until you get to the actual abdomen. If you’re going to consume it straight-up, beware of the dark brown goo within – for some, it’s a culinary thrill ride, while for others, the usual “gut suspects” as well as eggs and excrement can be a huge buzz kill.
Wasps: Get Your Taste-buzz On!
(Images via: YeinJee’s Asian Journal, Get Rid of Pests, My VOA, William’s Space, Herro Flom Japan)
Why would anyone want to nibble on wasps? In their adolescent state, they taste like scrambled eggs or specifically “egg whites” and once they are fully grown, they’re not unlike pine nuts, so perhaps the real question you should be asking yourself is why not? From stir fried and deep fried wasp pupae (both preparations supposedly able to impart a youthful quality to the skin) to wasp studded rice crackers, known in Japan by the name jibachi sembei, you can fly on a culinary high without getting stung.
Worms, Grubs and Pupae: Leg-Free Eatin’ !
(Images via: Edible, Time, Food2, Sixth Seal, Thinking Fountain, BBC, Design Swan)
One look at this assortment of once writhing, wriggling little creatures and even the most iron-stomached diner could easily toss their cookies. Despite being the subject of many unwelcome nightmares, worms and their brethren are an integral part of Asian and African diets and have even migrated to the plates of bold Aussies who appreciate the mild mozzarella/nutty egg flavor of Witchetty grubs in particular. Good news for those who are more inclined to nibble on silk worm pupae – they’re a figure-friendly, high protein, carbohydrate-free delight that, when deep-fried, take on the characteristic of earthy foie gras with a crisp, peanut skin exterior. Aside from being plunged into high temperature, high calorie oil, the insect gourmand can easily justify their late night snack cravings as being heart-healthy and a far more wholesome alternative to potato chips. Savory to sweet versions abound, but which one should you indulge in? How about a little bit of each?
Scorpions: A Crispy Snack That Won’t Bite Back!
(Images via: Thailand Unique, Edible, Bela Black)
How about closing your eyes and tucking into a sumptuous treat that boasts a crisp, wafer like Kit Kat candy bar texture with walnut undertones, all capped off with a generous coating of dark Belgian chocolate? Unlike its mainstream counterpart, there are absolutely no traces of palm oil or funky laboratory chemicals in UK purveyor Edible’s oven baked chocolate dipped scorpion, and at roughly $7 USD for a generous 5 gram portion, it isn’t the most budget-friendly dessert but it’s surely one that you won’t soon forget. If sweets aren’t your thing, then Thailand Unique has you covered with their collection of scorpion edibles that range from lightly salted and smoky barbeque roasted to curry dusted. They also happen to offer triple distilled Heterometrus Spinifer infused vodka for something with a bit more kick, and for those who prefer their liquor on the “whiskey” side, their Kool-Aid tinted nips will (fortunately) not bite back…unless you knock back several in succession.
Ants: A Surprisingly Tasty Infestation Sensation!
(Images via: Gnaw, Edible, Hoax Slayer, Thailand Unique)
We may be inclined to snuff ants out with the sole of our shoe, but since they’re believed to impart aphrodisiac properties to the eager diner who dares to go there, why blow a potentially good thing? Available in all sorts of mouth-popping sizes, textures and flavorful varieties, the picnic in your mouth is guaranteed to last…and last…and last, but you’d be wise to have a toothpick handy because these little buggers love to stick around. Those who are obsessed with the cleanliness of their choppers may want to lean toward ant eggs which leave barely any trace of their existence behind. Tossed with herbs and mature red ants, they make an especially delicious main meal…and foodies, take note — they possess irresistibly soft, jelly-like interiors that give way to creamy-nutty undertones. Once fully developed and plunked into oil, a culinary transformation takes place and ants suddenly taste like earthy, deep-fried bacon. Two great tastes that taste great together!
Dragonflies: Prepare For a Tantalizing Landing!
(Images via: Feffi, USA Today, PBS.org, Open Salon)
Their shimmery, ethereal appearance has made dragonflies a popular subject of countless pieces of art, but they also make for good eatin’, at least in the Yunnan Province of China where their deep fried larvae are gobbled up with great gusto. Similarly, residents of Bali, Indonesia enjoy flash frying the bodies of the full-grown winged creatures in coconut oil…but even more interesting than the fact that they eat them is how they actually catch them. Dipping a thin palmwood strip into jackfruit sap, eager hunters extend this irresistible wand up into the air in the middle of a rice paddy, attracting dragonflies that are instinctually drawn to the sweet elixir. Unfortunately, their wings and/or bodies get tethered to the strip, making it rather easy for someone to bring a generous haul home and finish them off in the fryolator. Yowch!