Considered protein-rich, insect gastronomy is being looked at as the new-age answer to global food scarcity!
Sitting down to eat a meal may no longer require just a healthy appetite, but also some robust courage, with bugs and insects increasingly coming onto food menus. Once considered a delicacy in the Far East, ‘insect gastronomy’ is creating a huge buzz among food circles. There are insect appreciation meetings abroad, where people find solutions to the impending food crisis over bug-canapes. The European Union is reportedly spending close to 3 million euros to value potential of insects to supplement the continent’s food supply and one of the world’s top restaurants served live ants in a salad. Are you adventurous enough to try the fare out?
Cricket cookies, fried grasshoppers on the menu While entomologists believe insects will be in restaurants within the next two decades, a Thai cuisine restaurant in Philadelphia is welcoming diners on its site with foods like alligator and spicy basil venison. And the latest on the bug platter is ‘cricket cookies’ made in a flour that is a blend of crickets with cassava and coconut. That’s not all. Termites are quite the flavour in Western Kenya and the trend has taken off in street stalls too. If you’re out shopping in Cambodia, you might come across stalls selling crispy fried tarantulas and in street markets in Mexico you will find fried chilli-lime grasshoppers and insect-stuffed quesadillas! In Nigeria and Papua New Guinea, a kind of larva is skewered and roasted while ‘honeypot ants are the flavour in Australia. Brace yourself for scorpions too — they come skewered a la kebabs, in Thailand and China.
Squeamish, but healthy With the human population soon set to reach 8 billion, it is being realised that the solution to food sources may lie in insects. Edible insects have high-quality proteins, vitamins plus amino acids. For instance, termites which are steamed in banana leaves in South America are packed with iron, calcium and essential fatty acids.
Wait, cats too? In Vietnam, they have a bizarre taste for cats. A report talks of how fried cat meat accompanies a chilled alcoholic beverage. In a restaurant in Hanoi, a cat was reportedly drowned, shaved and burned to remove all fur before being cut and fried with garlic. “A lot of people eat cat meat. It’s a novelty. They want to try it,” says an establishment’s manager. While Vietnam has forbidden the consumption of cats — one of the reasons being to keep the capital’s rat population under control, there are still dozens of restaurants serving it in Hanoi. Pet owners there are said to keep their felines indoors out of fear of cat thieves.
Did you know? Insect food meet-ups called ‘bug fests’ are held across the world in cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Austin. They have cockroach races, insect tattoos, bug parades and bug-tasting sessions too!