I’d understand if you’re blinking your eyes as you read this article. After all, two of the most unconnected words have just been put together. It makes sense, yes, but it also at the same time doesn’t. Why not? We’re talking about eating insects here. It may evoke indescribable images from the squeamish, but if look at this at another angle, then you might have to agree that whoever said this has a point.
Let’s face it. The world is not exactly that young, and food supply is getting short. After years of excessive eating, we’ve come to the point that we ourselves are losing our environment for the sake of feeding our stomachs. It’s a natural human instinct of ours, to survive, but this is better done without taxing our resources. We should start looking for other food sources. It should be nutritious, filling, and at the same time, requires the least amount of raw materials in order to produce them. We do have a candidate right now, but I’m certain that a lot would be frowning on this. But please, before you dismiss all this outright, let’s hear it first. After that, you’re free to make your own opinion on the matter.
The topic? It’s about insects being used as human food.
Believe it or not, but there are many inspect species that are considered edible and fit for human consumption. In fact, there are some countries that consider them as delicacies. There are also many ways to prepare them. They can be cooked as it is, mixed with other condiments, fried, boiled, dried and many more.
Below are a list of insects that are commonly eaten in many parts of the world:
- Atta laevigata (South American leafcutter ants) – considered as aphrodisiacs, the large queen ants of this species are harvested by peasants during the rainy season. After which the legs and wings are removed, immersed in salty water and then roasted on ceramic pans. Research has shown that these species are high in protein, has very low levels of saturated fat, and an overall high nutritional value.
- Gonimbrasia belina (South African mopane worm) – these worms are harvested as a source of food for many Africans. The contents of the innards expelled, these are then dried or smoked to be preserved. They can also be canned in brine, tomato sauce or chili sauce to enhance their flavor. Usually, the dried worms are eaten as a crunchy snack, although there are those who rehydrate it in water first, then fry it with garlic and other spices.
- Endoxyla leucomochla (Witchetty grub) – these babies are super high in protein and are harvested by Indigenous Australians. They can be eaten raw, which is said to taste like almonds and nuts or they can be lightly cooked in hot asheswhich then make the skin crispy like that of a roasted chicken and the insides yellow similar to fried eggs. Sounds pretty tasty, no? I’m thinking these would make a great snack for Superbowl Sunday 2011.
- Rhynchophorus ferrugineus (Sago Worm) – these can be roasted on a spit or fried in oil, whose taste is similar to that of bacon or meat. This could be good for this little bugger since bacon has been topping the food trend charts for the past few years. It is considered as a high nutrition food among the Sarawaks of Borneo, a delicacy in Thailand, and food for special occasions in Papua New Guinea. Chocolate covered sage worm anyone? SWLT? I’d try it.
- Grasshoppers of the genus Sphenarium (Chapulines) – these bouncy little guys are commonly eaten in some parts of Mexico and Central America. “Chapulines” are cleaned and toasted with garlic, lime juice and salt containing the extract of agave worms. This gives them its distinctive sour-spicy-salty flavor. Too bad for Mexico’s favorite comedic superhero “El Chapulin Colorado”.
- Bombyx Mori (Domesticated Silk moth silkworm) – in Korea, silkworm pupae are commonly boiled and seasoned, turning them into a snack called beondegi. You can find these on the streets (maybe Korilla can get into this in the future) and make for a great beer pairing. They can also be found in Chinese streets as a roasted snack. Forget pretzels, chex mix and beer. I want some Bombix….This could be a hit.
- Larvae of ants of the genus Liometopum (Escamol) – these are considered a delicacy in Mexican cuisine, which earned it the title of “insect caviar.” They have a consistency similar to cottage cheese, yet taste like butter, with a nutty flavor. These will have some competition coming in from the Colombian Hormiga Culona (Atta laevigata) or as we’d call them in Engligh “The Big Butt Ant”. In Colombia when not roasted, people just pick these up off the streets and eat them.
- Imbrasia ertli (black caterpillars of Congo) – usually collected in whole colonies, these caterpillars are then boiled or roasted before eating, but it’s also common for these to be dried under the sun for preservation. There are talks of making these more popular in the area as they would provide for a greener more environmentally friendly alternative to the decimation of vegetative resources in the Republic of Congo. Maybe this is something we should consider in the US?
- Lethocerus indicus (Thai Giant Water Bug) – these insects are steamed before eating, or they can also be ground with chili into a paste and served with sticky rice. Unlike most bugs, these are not just fried. In the males, they remove the pheromones and use these in sauces. Could this be a new aphrodisiac? Smells like a mix of stinky cheese and nail polish remover…think I’ll stay away from that one.
- Arachnida scorpiones (Scorpions) – these are commonly eaten in Southern China, Latin America and in neighboring countries. They are usually reared in large numbers at home and then cooked in various ways, for example, prepared as scorpion soup. These have a woody taste, and people usually eat it whole, except for the tail end.
January 15th, 2011