Weird Foods: Bugs
Insects are one of the best sources of protein. If you join the Marines, you learn to live on bugs. And they taste good!
- Scorpion (Vietnam): I saw this on a video from Vietnam that my Vietnamese roommate was watching: scorpions. Another of my friends said he had eaten them, and the taste was so-so. A third friend said they were quite good, commenting, "They're bugs, aren't they, like lobster."
- Baby Bees (Japan): (Sorry, no description was submitted. If you know about these, please write!)
- Bugs (Everywhere): An article on eating insects
- Huhu (New Zealand): Huhu grubs (larva) are A traditional Maori food in New Zealand. I've never had the guts to try them myself but people say they taste like buttery chicken.
- Ants (Belize): In a village near Orange Walk after a good tamales lunch, my cousins would go and dig the ants nest from behind the farm taking out all the ant eggs. They would then eat the eggs and sigh with satisfaction. Tastes quite like citrus juice mixed with some strong gin. Also known as "ghetto caviar".;)
- Ants (Australia): (Australia, Northern Territory.) In the North of Australia a favorite type of bush-tucker is the abdomen of small 'green ants'. The ants themselves have brown bodies and legs, but a large green abdomen which curiously shares a similar flavor to lemon sherbet. To eat them you pick them up by their head and squash it (so they won't bite you) then bite off the abdomen and enjoy the taste sensation. Beautiful!
- Tarantula (Cambodia): In the town of Skuon around 55 miles North of Phnom Phen tarantula spiders are very commonly eaten by the locals, travelers who pass through often try them too. The practice began in the days of the Khmer Rouge, when food was scarce, but apparently the locals developed rather a taste for the furry 8-legged arachnids and now they still form a major part of the towns dietary intake. Hundreds of these spiders are hunted, cooked and sold everyday in what must be one of the more unusual 'fast food' arrangements I've seen.
- Mopane Caterpillars (Africa): Mopane are eaten in various South African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana). For more info please visit: Mopane
- Hu-Hu (New Zealand): Hu-Hu grubs! Those who have tried these fat white globular bugs are split into two camps - those who think it tastes a little like peanut butter, and those who think they are disgusting!
- Ants (Thailand): Yellow ants or ants eggs in lime and chilies.
- Bugs (Thailand): Thailand street vendors serve up good tasty treats on Koh San road in Thailand. One cart had Maggots by the hand full, Grasshoppers, King Scorpion, Huge Cockroaches, and several others. Most of it actually not bad at all..
- Tequila Worms (Mexico): The little worm, the gusano, that lives on the agave plant gets stuck in the bottle. Mmmm. There is even a special brand sold in 2-ounce bottles called "Dos Gusanos", two worms for those who can't get enough.
Locally, which is to say in North America, a not too uncommon confection is the tequila sucker--a tequila flavored lollipop, complete with worm. The first two ingredients are listed as "High fructose corn syrup, insect larva...". My question is this: if an insect larva can pass the Food and Drug Administration as an explicitly listed ingredient, what the hell's in the stuff that the FDA rejects?
- Water Bugs (Thailand): This thing looks like a giant black cockroach, but with harder shell. It's highly priced for the aroma, and it's used in cooking. Good stuff!!
- Hornet Grubs (Thailand): Finally a solution for hornets.
- Fried Crickets (Philippines): My Philippine wife tells me these are quite a treat in the Philippines. I must remember to avoid the bar-snacks next time we're there!
- Fried Spiders (Thailand): I watched a TV programmed which showed the popularity of taking big hairy spiders and frying them in a wok. They're a popular snack.
- Cicada (Mediterranean): This is an OLD story, but irresistable... The French entomologist Henri Fabre reports eating roasted cicada larvae, caught as they were surfacing to morph. Apparently Aristotle said that this was a delicacy. Although it did not taste too bad, Fabre concluded that Aristotle, with his fantastic record on experimental science, was probably tricked by some rural farmer's opinion.
- How to Bug the Cook: For the cook who has everything, consider "Entertaining With Insects" by Ronald Taylor, with 95 recipes including cricket pot pie, mealworm chow mein, fudge hoppers and beetle sausage. To order, call (800) 395-1351.
- Witchety Grub (Australia): In Oz now it is considered patriotic to eat Witchety Grub, a plump insect which has become the symbol of Aboriginal cuisine. It is served in fancy restaurants, but I don't think many Oz have actually screwed up the courage to sample it. On the subject of witchety grubs, I had been to Ayres Rock on my first trip to Australia (my Mum is a former Aussie... we were visiting family mostly,) and the tour guide was honest enough to tell us WHAT the grubs were and something about their background before trying to talk us into trying it. About 10 years later, I went back to catch up on the family and discovered (in a newspaper ad) that there is a resort near Ayres Rock now... and on their list of exotic resort fare are WITCHETY GRUBS! This went from a weird oddity only eaten by Aborigines and desperate bushmen to resort food in only ten years!
- Roasted Ants (Colombia): The ants are very large. These are fried or roasted. These are often served in paper cones at movies. They have a smoky taste, a bit like very good jerky. Nice and crunchy.
- Chitoum (Ivory Coast, Africa): A couple of years ago, Montreal's Insectarium held a taste-test to which I, as a reporter, was invited. I ate grasshoppers and crickets easily enough, the only real problem was that their legs and wings kept getting stuck between my teeth. But I was grossed out by a West African bug called a chitoum. They were imported from Ivory Coast, were dry and black and had all the charm of dessicated garden slugs. I thought they tasted like a cross between dried twigs and green Chinese tea. It did not help that I was told that to prepare them for drying people squeeze their guts out. I ate half of one and went back to popping chocolate-covered crickets.
- Spiders (Cambodia): In Cambodia as well as other parts of the world, certain spiders are consumed as a special treat. They are rich in protein but hard to come by, so they are more of a special snack than a staple. I tried some when I was in Cambodia a year ago. I believe it is a deep-fried tarantula. The taste was quite good - similar to deep fried soft shell crab - but I had significant psychological hang-ups that kept me from enjoying the special treat to the full extent.
- Silk Worm Grubs (Korea): Steaming, grey silk worm grubs can be found in vendor's carts on the back streets of Seoul, Korea. There's this one oriental grocery store near me that I've been going to for several years. At first, as expected, when I asked what strange things were I get the standard "You won't like that." I soon got past that stage with the owner. It's probably been over a year since I've got the you-won't-like-it explanation. Today I got it again! The food in question? "Chrysalis." It's a can of bugs. Of course I bought it, but I don't know what to do with it. I opened the can, and it certainly smelled strange. I was assured that it was delicious and very healthy. Do I just heat it and enjoy? Would fresh chrysalis bugs be better than canned? Thanks for the help. Guess: A caterpillar spins a cocoon around itself when it is ready to mutate into a butterfly or moth. At this stage it is known as a "chrysalis" or "pupa". Perhaps they're silkworm pupae, since the orient produces a lot of silk.
- Grasshoppers (Mexico): Just came back from a trip to Mexico. In Oaxaca, they sell "chapulines" (grasshoppers) as a specialty. They're not necessarily disgusting, but to our northern palates they sure were weird--kind of like really, really salty anchovies (if you can imagine anything saltier than anchovies.) From: Louise Mateos. In Africa and Thailand, grasshoppers are fried in oil. Good for you!
- Tasty Bug Recipes
Banana Worm Bread
- 2 large packages gelatin
- 2 1/2 cups boiling water (do not add cold water)
- Stir boiling water into gelatin. Dissolve completely.
- Stir in dry-roasted leafhoppers.
- Pour mixture slowly into 13 x 9 inch pan. Chill at least 3 hours.
- BLOX will be firm after 1 hour, but may be difficult to remove from pan. Cutting blox: dip bottom pan in warm water 15 seconds to loosen gelatin. Cut shapes with cookie cutters all the way through gelatin. Lift with index finger or metal spatula. If Blox stick, dip pan again for a few seconds.
Rootworm Beetle Dip
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 bananas, mashed
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup dry-roasted army worms
- Mix together all ingredients. Bake in greased loaf pan at 350 for about 1 hour.
Chocolate Cricket Chip Cookies
- 2 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons skim milk
- 1/2 cup reduced calorie mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp. dill weed
- 1 1/2 tsp. Beau Monde
- 1 cup dry-roasted rootworm beetles
- Blend first 3 ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and chill.
- 2 1/4 cup flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 1 12-ounce chocolate chips
- 1 cup chopped nuts
- 1/2 cup dry-roasted crickets
- Preheat oven to 375. In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add flour mixture and insects, mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.