The UN has announced this week that we, by which I mean people, not just the dealchecker population, need to eat more insects. In the words of Alice in Wonderland “I can’t very well have more”, precisely because I have never eaten a dish that knowingly contained insects. Unless you count that fly I accidentally swallowed the other day. Not tasty.
Well it might be uncommon in these parts, but elsewhere in the world they are already enjoy the healthy, protein-filled and cheap delights of insects. So to tempt you we have sought out some of the – best seems wrong here – most popular dishes featuring creepy crawlies, flying beasts and all manner of insects.
Japan has a long history of eating insects for nutrition, and in Tokyo you can still sample many of the dishes. Favourites include boiled wasp larvae, fried rice with field grasshoppers, fried cicada and fried silk moth pupae. Eat them as a side with your usual dish or as a snack between the sights!
Termites, crickets and the palm weevil larva are all widely eaten in Nigeria, prepared in various ways either by boiling, charcoal grilling or frying. These are all eaten by themselves, but if you want to try a whole dish, then the cirina forda westwood larva, often called kanni, is added to a vegetable-based soup to provide protein.
The residents of Bali have a particular affinity for dragonflies and damselflies, despite the fact that they are really tricky to catch! Maybe that’s part of their charm. Sometimes they are served simply grilled over charcoal, but you can also try them boiled with ginger, garlic, shallots, chili pepper and coconut milk.
Insects are a hugely popular snack here, and you will see them in many places, usually served fried with soy sauce and pepper alongside a beer (or two). Jing Leed are crickets, Maeng Kee Noon are beetles and Non Mai and Non Pai are types of worms. If you want to go even more adventurous try Maeng Da, which are around 10cm long!
There’s no half-hearted attitude to eating all manner of insects here, with many things getting the fried treatment! Particularly popular snacks are skewered beetles and skewered scorpions, which are usually sold on the street. Can’t imagine anyone showing up with their morning coffee and a skewer of bugs!
Here in Peru and also in Eduacor, corn forms a large part of the diet, but for a treat why not pair it with toasted tayno kuro worms? Apparently once cooked in a clay pot over a smoking fire you won’t be able to tell the difference between them and a slightly burnt hotdog – that’s the spirit!
Proving that they really do eat insects nearly everywhere apart from the Western world, huhu grubs are a traditional Maori treat. They are fried and served as a snack, and aficionados have compared the taste to peanut butter or – of course – chicken.
I think it’s safe to say that the theme is that frying the insects might make them taste better. I’ve also come across some chocolate covered insect recipes which might induce me to try them – just maybe. But woodlouse cocktail in place of prawns? Cricket flour? Mealworm bolognaise? Definitely a step too far for this palate.