Eating Insects

Eating Insects

Eating Insects

One day one of my Chinese friend was eating candy with making lots of noises. I looked at him and smiled ‘İt must be really yummy’. He offered me one too. It was hard strawberry candy chewy in the center. After I finished mine, he smiled and handed another one and added ‘İt is not easy to find this candy. Sometimes just for this candy I drive to Chinatown’.  I agreed with him that it is the most delicious strawberry candy I have ever eaten. I have liked especially the chewy center. While we were talking about how artificial some candies taste and how terrible that we eat lots of chemicals even with some well-known-brand chocolates. He suddenly got serious and looked at my face with a hesitation, and continued: I am sorry Neva. I forgot to tell you… That chewy center is not strawberry! It is grass hoper!’

In many parts of the world today, insects are a part of people's diets. Why? (they are a good source of protein, easy to find, take up less space than cows, etc.) Their nutritional value is equal to if not better than our traditional meat choices. Which insect is the most nutritious? Which would be the easiest to rear? As the human population continues to inch closer to 8 billion people, feeding all those hungry mouths will become increasingly difficult. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects. As if to underscore that claim, a group of students from McGill University in Montreal has won the 2013 Hult Prize, for producing a protein-rich flour made from insects. The prize gives the students $1 million in seed money to begin creating what they call Power Flour.

Very recently I read an interview with Chef Mario Hernandez of New York City’s Black Ant about the roots of insect cuisine, and how he’s bringing it to the hungry and curious in Popular Science. Here are some interesting words from that interview

Popular Science: What kind of food do you serve at Black Ant?

Mario Hernandez: We rescue forgotten recipes from every state in Mexico and bring them to New York with a new twist. Many use insects like grasshoppers, jumiles [stinkbugs], capiguaras [leaf-­cutter ants], and mosquito eggs.

PS: When did you first eat insects?

MH: When I was a little kid, my grandma would take us to the market every Sunday, and ladies from villages in the mountains would bring insects—some of them would go into salsa, some into different moles. It was always part of our big weekly meal. It was a celebration.

PS: Why have other chefs been slow to use them?

MH: Many chefs are afraid of customer reactions. Or they feel ashamed of their own roots, because in Mexico, it’s an indigenous food. In the beginning, insects were considered only for the peasants, but now they’re a delicacy.

PS: Do you think we’ll start seeing insects in more restaurants?

MH: I think so. First of all, everyone’s more conscious about global warming and the sustainability of protein. And second, they are really tasty. People tried them because they were curious, but now they order them again and again.

What can I say? Bon a petite!


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