Exotic Food: You Never Know until You’ve Tried It
By: J. Marlando
I’ve always been one to like exotic foods—escargot has always been a favorite of mine. I also enjoy frog legs and I’ve tasted giraffe meat and eaten Thai rat. I love oysters and lobster but when we (really) think about lobster, they look more like monstrous, sea-spiders than a delicacy to eat and we dare not describe what the oyster resembles. When I was a kid we ate chocolate covered ants and once I had rattlesnake that my Uncle Ray killed and cooked. In later life, while in Mexico, I ate roasted grasshopper They were crunchy and kind of tasty…I guess. I was drinking lots of cerveza at the time!
Before any reader responds with an “ug,” with the world population growing as it is and with the number of hungry people escalating on our planet, insects may be taking the place of beef and other meat for a great many human beings even in the foreseeable future. Here’s a gourmet stand of insects worms and bugs sold by a street vendor in Bangkok. Tarantula anyone—a healthy snack for some folk
There are many nutritious critters that are edible and, yes, good for us. Leafcutter ants, known as hormigas culonas in Spanish (big-butted) are eaten especially in South America. Bees are eaten in many cultures. The larvae are sautéed in butter for a tasty treat and adult bees can be roasted and ground into tasty flour.
A common street food found in china is the centipede Centipedes are also eaten in Thailand, Japan, and Malaysia. Also grilled insects are a favorite in china and in many Asian countries too.
When I was a kid in Colorado we had a great many June Bugs during the summer. To me they looked big and scary but to some people, they are a food source. And, if you’re not put off by the name, dung beetles are said to be very tasty.
Most Americans grimace at the thought of eating bugs and insects, much less arachnids such as spiders, tarantulas and scorpions but, insects and some arachnids are nevertheless, eaten in 80% of the world’s nations. It is estimated that there are over 1400 species of insects that can be eaten including 235 species of butterflies and moths, 344 species of beetles, 313 species of ants, bees, wasps and 239 species of grasshoppers, crickets and cockroaches.
Indeed, our kind was probably insect foragers for thousands of years before tools for hunting were sophisticated and a very long time before farming evolved. And, speaking of farming the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) tell us that the high growth of animal agriculture is causing ecological damage worldwide; that this damage contributes to climate change, air pollution; soil and water degradation. Well, you can’t “mistreat” anything forever without causing dire consequences and this includes Mother Earth.
When I was a young boy, my Aunt Doris used to ask me what was worse than finding a worm in the apple I was eating. I would shrug and she would say a half of wormBut actually, many worms can be eaten and are fat with protein. Nevertheless, just in case you’re an adventurous eater, you shouldn’t eat live earthworms because they carry parasites. Actually it is not the worm that has parasites but the ground they carry with them. The truth is that if you are going to eat insects they should be cooked although many people eat them alive. Cooking, however, reduces the risk of such things as parasites and other toxics that insects, spiders or worms may carry.
Has this article made you hungry to try a new dish or two or are you saying, you’d never eat that stuff?
If you are saying “no” to insects, the truth is you’ve probably have already eaten a bunch. You especially have if you happen to live in Sardinia where a cheese is made with the name Casu Marzu which means “rotten cheese.” The locals call it “maggot cheese” because it contains live insect larvae.(Immature insects). These two gentlemen are seen enjoying the cheese as a great many do, but it is outlawed in the United States. By and large we Americans are pretty snooty eaters. However, if you’re an American and think you’ve never eaten insect parts, well think again: I will begin with a food I love, canned corn. The U.S. Food and Drug authority gives the cannery permission to include 12 mm of insects or insect parts in every 24 pounds.
The packagers of wheat flour are permitted to have less than 150 insect fragments per 100 grams of wheat flour.
Are you a fan of frozen veggies?
Frozen Broccoli, for example, can average 60 or more aphids or mites per 100 grams. And, Ground nutmeg, average 100 or more insect fragments per 10 grams. And chances are that your morning fruit juice contains fly eggs per 250 ml or a few maggots per 250 ml.
With all the above in mind, I sure hope this information doesn’t bug anyone.
Insects, worms and spiders truly could become at least a portion of the answer to world hunger. It is not at all farfetched to imagine vast, conscientious insect farmers creating a vast new world of food supply. Insects reproduce much faster than beef animals—female crickets, for example, can lay from 1,200 to 1,500 eggs in three plus weeks. Indeed, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) tells us that the animal agriculture has caused ecological damage worldwide. For westerners it is merely the mental image and concept of “bugs” that takes them off of our menu of foodstuffs. Actually some insects are tasty, nutritious and full of protein.
The truth is that you can add a lot of fun and controversy to your next party by serving an o’dourves tray that looks something like this Even if your guests don’t jump right in and participate, they will certainly remember you for it. In the meantime, bon appetite!