Insect eating or “entomophagy” is common to 80% of the world’s countries. It’s estimated that two billion people partake in it around the globe. Environmental companies and economic forces alike are recruiting entrepreneurs to indulge in insect-driven dishes.
While some of these meals might entice you (who doesn’t like a good taco?), they’ll all definitely surprise you. Insect entrees may be all the buzz among start-ups, but would you eat these six-legged dishes?
Eastern Africans surrounded by Lake Victoria found a creative way to take care of their intense midge fly problem; cook them into burgers. According to Fox News, if consumed properly, the midge fly patties have seven times the nutritional content of a traditional beef burger and an abundance of protein to boot.
Lake Victoria borders several countries including Kenya and Tanzania. Reddit user gaz7527 claims to have tasted the fly burgers.“I actually ate these in Mozambique when I worked on a farm – they were pretty much tasteless.”
Cricket flour cookies
All Things Bugs has a few suggestions for your next batch of cookies. The company is the country’s largest supplier of cricket powder and sold 10,000 pounds in 2014 alone. The start-up found that philanthropic organizations, like the Gates Foundation, and the United Nations believe bugs could be a “super food” of the future.
Aaron Dossey, Ph.D., founder of All Things Bugs, explained how companies carefully chose crickets to help incorporate insects into consumers’ foods. “The powder helps many people overcome their fears. A lot of people are open to it, as long as you’re not gnawing on a crunchy cricket,” Dossey said.
Chef Julian Medina endearingly calls his signature dish’s key ingredient, “Mexican popcorn,” but passerby call those who eat it simply, “brave.” Tolache, a popular Mexican restaurant in New York City, serves delicious Spanish food alongside Chapulines, or grasshopper tacos.
“They come from Oaxaca, which is dearest to my heart. They’re actually a snack back in Mexico … it’s actually a delicacy there,” Medina said. TripAdvisor rater TLHTooter gave the tacos a positive review; “I’m not usually into really weird things to eat but the grasshopper tacos on the menu intrigued me. They were fabulous! They are some very small variety of grasshopper. Delicious!
Deep fried tarantulas
Chef David George Gordon is known in some circles as, “The Bug Chef,” and with good reason. The New York City-based chef serves deep fried tarantulas and wrote Eat-a-Bug Cookbook: 40 Ways to Cook Crickets, Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes, and Their Kin.
“First I freeze the spiders—a humane way to dispatch them—then I remove the abdomen, which is basically a fluid-filled sac, and singe off the body hairs, using a butane torch. I dip them in tempura batter and drop in hot oil. The end result looks good and tastes even better,” Gordon told Time.
Meghan Curry cofounded a website that will inspire your new favorite six-legged dishes. Bug Vivant‘s mission is to make gourmet edible insects more accessible to the Western world. Curry’s favorite edible insect recipe is the Spicy Critter Fritter made with cricket flour.
“Cricket flour bakes and cooks much like other nut flours with slightly great binding ability and a nice nutty aroma and flavor,” Curry said.
Cicadas have a long culinary history, and the 13-year-cyclical cricket-like insect inspires new cuisines each time it rears its noisy head. Ashlee Horne of Nashville sautéed cicadas in butter and garlic, while Jenna Jadin from Washington, D.C., baked them into banana bread, chocolate-chip cookies and rhubarb pie.
“I had an opportunity to cook 17-year cicadas two summers ago. They were great dry roasted with a little salt. The roasted cicadas also worked very well in a sausage made with monkfish. I think roasted insects can be good in anything that could use a little variety in texture,” said Will Wienckowski, head chef at Ipanema Cafe in Richmond, VA.
Mealworm pecan pie
Monica Martinez created Don Bugito, a food cart filled with edible insects, that started in San Francisco and flew nationwide. She now has stores in Maryland, Texas, and New York. Their mission is to, “feature and share the amazing quality of food native to the American continent,” through delicious, edible insects.
Martinez has a favorite insect to curb your sweet tooth; mealworm pecan pie. “Oven toasted, and there’s no need to use any oils as most insects are very fatty—good fatty! They don’t contain cholesterol or saturated fats. Mealworms make a great dessert item as they have a very nutty flavor, they could replace pecans for a pecan pie.”