billy's bugs

A bug-eating time

In the Winter of 2010 I watched Marcel Dicke speak about entomophagy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2j47FqKAK6s

I always thought what a cool idea it would be to try and commercialise the eating of insects. How can it be adapted so that it appeals to the Western diet??

For three years I talked about the idea only. This blog is about how I am now starting to try insects, with friends, family and eventually the public, to produce snacks and meals that are moorish.

What has happened so far…

I have bought bugs twice. The first time, I ordered mealworms, locusts and crickets. When you see a locust or mealworm by itself, it is easy to be confident that you can manage to eat it. When you then see 100 locusts in a bag, or 500 mealworms in a tub, it is even easier to then lose your enthusiasm. The fate of the first batch of bugs were as missiles; hurled around the room at my birthday. They did not end in the way that I had originally intended them to, but for one! A single lucky locust did get digested, while still frozen and raw, by one of my friends, Guy. He survived.

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A shy birthday kiss with a locust

A month later, with the kitchen finally insect-free, I was reinvigorated to try again. Knowing what a pit of mealworms looked like, I thought I would concentrate on one insect type only; locusts.

100 locusts arrived for a second time. Like before, the courier approached the door eager to hand over a jumping bag of bugs. As I am at work when they arrive, my animal-loving mum has to ‘deal’ with them. They are thrown in the freezer and kept there until the feeding hour.

The first tasting was fried locust. My girlfriend, eldest sister, her boyfriend and I braved ourselves to taste them. We considered 20 locusts to be enough for a first session. Having let them thaw, we battered them by rolling these protein-filled cases in egg and flour, and then frying them in very hot sunflower oil. They looked great, but having added no flavour, there was no taste to them.

A success because we had managed to disguise them, but not a tasty snack that people would reorder or want to try again. Taste was what we needed to work on for the next 80.