For many North Americans, travel abroad involves discovering exotic foods – and avoiding exotic bugs. Yet, in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, bugs are food! Worms, wasps, dung beetles…these are just a few of the prized delicacies that intrepid eaters can sink their teeth into while journeying around the world.
The eating of insects is known as entomophagy. Those who imagine bug banquets as something reserved for the pages of National Geographic should consider the fact that an estimated 2 billion entomophagists dine on raw and cooked insects on a regular, if not daily basis.
Food of the future
Eating insects makes great nutritional sense. Many “critters” are chock full of essential proteins, vital minerals, and good fats; in fact, these nutrients come in concentrations much higher than those found in more conventional sources such as beef, chicken, and seafood.
Bugs are also far more sustainable than livestock. In terms of capital and resources, insects cost far less to raise and feed while producing less greenhouse gases and pollutants than farm animals. No wonder the United Nations released a report recommending that we all get over our squeamishness and start eating more insects; UN Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, is already on board confessing that her kids “eat crickets like Doritos.”
To help ease entomophagy’s “ew” factor, here’s a taste guide to some of the most appetizing insects featured on menus around the world:
- Leaf-cutter ants or hormigas culonas – Spanish for “big-butted ants” – are a popular snack in Colombia where they’re sold like popcorn in some movie theaters. When toasted, they taste like bacon bits.
- Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches are mercifully quiet once they’ve been cooked. Their flavor and texture is similar to that of chicken.
- Tarantulas and spiders are a major delicacy in Cambodia where they’re fried and eaten whole (hairy legs and all) with chile and lime. Tarantula meat is reminiscent of shrimp or crab.
- Giant water bugs are beloved in Thailand, where they are often steamed. Although they resemble fish filets, they taste like bitter melon.
- Wasps – both adults and larvae – have long been appreciated for their buttery essence. In Japan, Emperor Hirohito favored his wasps boiled and served with rice.
- Stink bugs aren’t actually stinky – in fact, their flavor is redolent of cinnamon. In Mexico, they’re often added to tacos. Able to survive cooking, these bugs have been known to scamper around in diners’ mouths while being chewed.
Chirping for chocolate
Happily, there’s no need to travel to the ends of the world if you have the urge to pig out (or bug out, if you will) on bugs.
Here in the United States, Delysia chocolatier has long been aware of the positive properties of edible insects. In fact, we’ve integrated several into our artisanal chocolates including our Cricket chocolate bark and our crowd-favorite Insect collection, featuring our award-winning chocolate truffles incorporated with crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers. These entomophagic treats are not just nutritious and delicious; they offer appetizing adventure – without any sting!