As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” but you may want to rethink that mindset if you’re visiting parts of Thailand, where you might be offered a delicious snack of pregnant crickets. Many Thai lightly salt them and nibble away. Before you find yourself feeling sorry for the contestants on a reality show, who will eat anything to win, consider this: Insects cooked and served a variety of ways are considered delicacies and, in some cases, a way of life.
Termites, too, are a good source of protein in Kenya and parts of Indonesia. They are usually enjoyed roasted, but in some cases, they are eaten straight out of the mound. In Cambodia, you might be served a dish of hot, oven-baked tarantula, which is considered a delicacy by many Cambodians. In China, you might find a street vendor offering an appetizing centipede-on-a-stick. Native Americans ate June bugs like popcorn, roasting them on a stick over an open flame. But you don’t have to travel the world to sample the finest in insect fare – try your hand at making mealworm chocolate chip cookies and amaze the guests at your next family gathering!
Depending on how they are cooked, insects can have very different tastes and textures. Most of us call a pest control professional to rid our homes of cockroaches, but Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are served sautéed, toasted or fried until they have the flavor and texture of greasy chicken. Boiled wasps with served with rice in Japan, for instance, reportedly have a buttery flavor, while walking sticks, which are eaten in parts of Asia, unsurprisingly have a leafy taste. Lemon ants, a treat in the Amazon, reportedly taste like, well, lemon.
The truth is, many insects are edible and are actually considered healthy.
Insects are also part of the dining experience in other ways. We’ve all heard stories of someone sucking down a worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle (it’s actually an agave worm, and some residents of Mexico include them with meals for their high nutritious content). Chocolate ants are so passé in many parts of the world these days, the “cool kids” often opt for candy-coated Scorpions.
So, what do you think? Would you try a fistful of water beetles? Will you think twice before calling a pest control professional to get rid of insects, and consider all the recipe options instead? I, of course, have no problem eating bugs. But humans, for the most part, have a strange aversion to dining on the world’s creepy-crawlies. I’m okay with that; more delicious bugs for me!