It’s always good to start things off with a video, so here’s one to read while you drink your morning coffee. It’s one of those good news (eating bugs is not that bad) and bad news (you have to clean them and they may be contaminated with pesticide) stories. But this vid will teach you how to clean a “queen ant” if you happen to be in Brazil. (Hint: it’s more about outsides than insides.)
If you can’t get to Brazil, you could try stopping by my house where I have a great number of ants, though they’re the wrong kind. In fact, mine are several different kinds and some are really teeny. I bought a book called “Outwitting Ants” which encourages a person to catch a sample in a jar and take them to your county agent entomologist for identification, but the woman agent said she’d give me a lilac bush start if I’d just take my ants and go away. (I’m kidding.) I tried all the advice for non-chemical stuff except borax which killed all adjacent plants. Last summer I freaked, went to the ranch supply store, and dosed the property with some kind of ghastly stuff that worked.
In case they come back this summer, I’m prepared. The home economics recipe lady from the Prairie Star has devoted a column to bug recipes. As follows:
Spread cleaned insects out on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Dry insects in a 200 degree F. oven for one to three hours. The insects should be fairly brittle and crush easily. Process in a blender until the consistency of wheat germ. Add to any salad, bread, cookie recipe, etc.
CHOCOLATE COVERED CRICKETS
Melt squares of semi-sweet chocolate in a double boiler. Dip dried crickets in the the chocolate one at a time. Dry on waxed paper.
(This is from the exterminator company called Orkin. The recipe is to be used BEFORE you put down poison!)
In a saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter with 1/2 cup honey and gently heat. To three quarts popped popcorn, mix 1 cup dry roasted, chopped insects. Pour honey-butter mixture over the popped popcorn and insects. Mix well. Spread mixture out on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F 10-15 minutes, or until crisp. Break into small pieces.
Marie Hoyer is this lady’s name. She quotes Deborah Papier: “Just the right size for popping into your mouth, with a satisfying flavor that has been compared o a cross between a potato and avocado, cicadas would seem to be the perfect snack food.”
A cicada looks sorta like a queen ant and lives in the ground like a queen ant. But the survival manuals I’ve read say that it’s fairly safe to eat any bug that looks like a grasshopper. Some people raise crickets to feed pets and might dip into them for their own munchies now and then, but Hoyer cautions that if you raise crickets you have to keep the lid on their cage because they jump out. Maybe you’ve been in a pet store where the sound tells you there’s one in an unseen place it’s not supposed to be. In some countries they are kept in a teeny cage as though they were a canary, because of that sound, but other times a person can find it maddening. And crickets chew things up.
Though not as badly as dermestids. I’ve never read anything recommending the eating of dermestids, which are those strange little crosses between a spider and a beetle that scuttle off when you turn over an old carcass. Bone collectors use them to clean off skulls, but they will eat entire buckskin suits. I suppose people feel squeamish about something that eats dead stuff, though that’s what lobsters and crabs eat. Come to think of it, they do look like big insects.
Of course, we eat bug bits all the time because, as the Food and Drug Administration reminds us, it is “economically impractical to grow, harvest or process raw products that are totally free of non-hazardous naturally occurring unavoidable defects.” It’s just free insect flour.
If you are looking for bugs to eat on purpose, Hoyer claims these are available: “chocolate covered ants, larvae, grasshoppers and crickets, or lollipops containing a tomato hornworm or scorpion.” I had a can of chocolate-coated baby bees for a long time. A loooooong time. There’s a good project for your pre-teens: collecting big horrible bugs from the neighborhood and embedding them in lollipops. It’s not hard to make lollipops — you can even buy molds. Failing that, grubs and worms may be coated with salt and vinegar or sour cream and onion flavor as a snack.
A South American adventurer remarked that spiders down that way in the rain forest are big as mice and love to build their webs across paths where there is enough sunshine to attract cavorting insects. He himself disliked the feeling of cobwebs on his face, but his local guide walked close enough behind him to grab off any spiders and cram them in his mouth. He didn’t seem to mind the legs kicking and claimed they tasted like mashed potatoes. Not chicken.
Ace Powell used to tell about an old cowboy who arrived at a remote ranch late and was offered the cook’s bedroom next to the kitchen since the cook was gone. He woke in the morning to a metallic sound. The old ranch wife was singing to herself as she made flapjacks and then he’d hear “spang.”
He hustled out to the table and she set a short stack in front of him. He was surprised that they seemed to have raisins in them. He’d never seen that before, but it sounded like a good idea and he was lifting a forkful to his mouth when he saw what made the noise. A fly lit on the counter and the woman smacked it sharply with her pancake turner. Then she flipped another flapjack. He sorta lost his appetite, but, heck, he shouldn’t have been so fussy. Hoyer says bugs are good protein and, after all, they had been fried on both sides to kill the germs. And the next snotty vegan that shows up can be told that you’re an entomaphagan.
(Cover Photo: The Obnoxious 5xmom)