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News Clippings

July 8

Bug Grub!
By David George Gordon

— What kind of freak would want to eat bugs? For one, that oddball who just happens to be me.

Here's a  Recipe To Try

(Scott Stenjem)
Sheesh! Kabobs
6 Servings
1/2 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoon minced fresh herbs -- parsley, mint, thyme and/or tarragon.

12 frozen katydids, locusts, or other suitably sized Orthoptera, thawed

1 red pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

1 small yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges

1. Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a nonreactive baking dish.
2. Add the Orthoptera, cover, and marinate overnight.
3. When ready to cook, remove the insects from the marinade. Pat them dry, for ease of handling. Assemble each kabob, alternately skewering the insects, tomatoes, and onion wedges to create a visually interesting lineup.
4. Cook the kabobs two or three inches above the fire, turning them every two or three minutes and basting them with additional olive oil as required. The exact cooking time will vary, depending on the kind of grill and types of insects used; however, the kabobs should cook for no longer than 8 or 9 minutes.

I don’t take it personally, though. The diets of many of the world’s indigenous cultures include some form of land-dwelling arthropod—an insect, spider, centipede, scorpion or such.

Venezuela’s Piroa tribesmen, for instance, are fond of giant tarantulas, plucked from their dens in the rain forest and roasted over an open fire. Native Algerians collect locusts, drying and salting their catch to preserve them for feasting during lean times.

In central Africa, the bug of choice is the termite, harvested en masse at the start of the rainy season. In south Australia, it’s the witchity grub—the larval form of an oversized moth.

What’s to be gained from a diet of bugs? Plenty:

— A grasshopper’s body is more than 20 percent protein, nearly equal to that of lean ground beef. The protein content jumps to 60 percent after these small animals are dried.

— Many insects contain abundant stores of lysine, an amino acid deficient in the diets of many people who depend heavily on grain.

— Crickets are loaded with calcium, while termites are rich in iron.

— One hundred grams of giant silkworm moth larvae meet the daily requirements for copper, zinc, iron, thiamine and riboflavin.

It’s hard to say what motivated Europeans to refrain from the widespread and unquestionably wholesome practice of entomophagy (bug eating). Quite possibly, our societal disdain for bug cuisine was shared by the first farmers in the northern climes, who regarded most insects as crop- and livestock-damaging pests.

For these early agronomists, eating bugs was probably like sleeping with the enemy. To discourage anyone from going over to the other side, they manufactured all manner of bad press for bugs.

Hundreds of years later, most people regard insects and other arthropods as germ-filled and foul-tasting—two views that have little, if any, basis in fact.

I began collecting bug-based recipes three years ago, while working on my previous book, The Compleat Cockroach (which, by the way, includes a pair of dishes made with this ubiquitous and universally despised insect). The strange fruits of my labors are now presented in The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook: 33 Ways to Cook Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes and their Kin (published by Ten Speed Press).

Many of the book’s recipes are inspired by the culinary traditions of entomophagous (bug-eating) societies—the Dayak of northern Borneo, the Yanomamo of Brazil, South African Pedi, and the Shoshone of Wyoming, to name just a few.

One recipe came from the New York Entomological Society’s Centennial Banquet, undoubtedly the most lavish insect-eating affair in the history of the Western World. The rest arose from my overly fertile imagination.

It’s time to claim your share of land-dwelling arthropods—conservatively estimated at about 200 million for every person on the planet.

Bon appétit!

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