im - 9/16/2008 11:20:00 PM
Tuesday, September 16th, 2008
I ate 40 crickets, some sautéed and some dry-roasted, for lunch last Wednesday.
I've been reading wilderness survival and primitive living books since I was 12 years old. I've geeked out on most Survivorman and Man vs. Wild episodes on YouTube. The romance of living in a minimalist fashion is alluring, and having the knowledge to do so is confidence-inspiring. I do some ultralight camping, and I occasionally push myself through some endurance events. But I've never really put myself into a situation where I've had to catch and eat my own food to survive. Would I willingly eat insects, arachnids, slugs, and worms if I couldn't catch fish, mammals, or reptiles to eat? How would they taste?
Early this year, I started reading entomophagy cookbooks full of information regarding the procurement, preparation, and cooking of insects, spiders, scorpions, centipedes and millipedes for human consumption. 'The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook', 'Man Eating Bugs', and 'Creepy Crawly Cuisine' enlightened me and made me think about the other foods we eat without question. Eating bugs is really not a big deal, unless you live in the US. For some reason, we've deemed the consumption of oysters, lobsters, clams and other bottom-feeders as normal. But stir-frying mealworms or grilling grasshoppers is perceived as odd.
I have the recipes and know-how to prepare local-grown bug entrees. But until last week, I simply had not taken the extra steps to use my newly-obtained culinary knowledge. Other than the thousands (millions?) of bug parts I've inadvertently eaten over the years, I was a virgin of bug-eating. That changed last Tuesday night. When I arrived back at my house, after a pushing session on my longboard, a cricket hopped across may path. For some unknown reason, that triggered an hour-long bughunt in my front and back yards, yielding 40+ black hoppers. The vegetation along my sidewalk and driveway is where my meal was hanging out in the wee hours.
I decided to eat my bounty for lunch on Wednesday. After 20 minutes in the fridge and 3 minutes in the freezer, the crickets weren't moving. I didn't have to worry about my meal hopping or crawling out of the pan or off the cookie sheet. 20 went in the sauté pan with butter and minced garlic and cooked for 3 minutes. The remaining crickets were placed on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet and dry-roasted at 225F for 45 minutes.
The sautéed bugs were done first. I decided to try one hot from the pan. The apprehension of taking the first bite was stronger than I had anticipated. Would it squirt or crunch? Would it taste bad? Would the legs get caught in my throat? Only one way to find out. I tossed a cricket in my mouth and chomped down preparing for the worst. I chewed and swallowed. Then I ate another, and another, and another
until they were all gone. The crunch of the little bug heads surprisingly adds to the palatability. The taste of cricket is relatively neutral; it mostly took on the taste of the butter and garlic it was cooked in. Thumbs up for the pan-fried crickets.
The oven buzzer sounded 30 minutes later. Time for crunchier fare. I pulled the roasted critters from the oven and pulled off their brittle legs and antennae. Much easier than I thought it would be. Then I seasoned the peanut-sized bug bodies in black pepper, garlic powder, and Lowry's seasoning salt. I cracked a High Life and snacked on my little victims until only a few remained. I saved some for my 5-year-old son, Noah, hoping he'd take me up on the offer for a small yard-fed snack. He didn't bite
literally or figuratively. Oh, well
more for me. Dry-roasted crickets taste exactly how they'd been described in print
crunchy with a nutty flavor. I would eat these again, too. Next time, I'll try some Cajun seasoning.
you think this is gross? A bit unsettling, perhaps? Well, I hate to break the news to you - that bacon double cheeseburger you just scarfed down didn't grow on a tree. No, it probably spent much of its collective life wallowing in its own urine and feces, while eating processed chow in an overcrowded feedlot, until some dude electrocuted it with a stun gun or fired a bolt gun into its panicked skull. Nothin' gross about that. Bon appétit.