By Emily King
In the classic children’s book “How to Eat Fried Worms,” Billy must eat 15 worms in 15 days to win a bet. The children are so disgusted by the idea of eating worms that they agree to pay $50 if the task is completed.
This is the view of entomophagy, the practice of eating bugs, in much of the developed world. Bug-eating is reserved for reality television and hardcore survival shows in American culture, but insects of all kinds are devoured in many countries, weather served as street food or high-end delicacies, baked into dishes or eaten raw.
Whatever country your travels take you to, there is sure to be a delectable six-legged insect ready for cheap eating (or eight-legged if tarantulas are what you crave). Over 3,000 ethnic groups incorporate bugs into their daily diet. Chomp down a scorpion skewer in the streets of Beijing, fried grasshoppers in Cambodia, or raw grubs in Australia.
Enotmophagy dates back to before the Greeks and Romans--Aristotle mentioned dining on cicadas. Canada, the US, and Europe have abandoned the tradition to the point where bug-eating verges on taboo (with the exception of the popular French snail delicacy escargot).
At a fraction of the cost of raising livestock, insects are a more sustainable source of food. The six-legged pests are loaded with protein and vitamins and can be bred in a small space. The varieties are as endless as the species--ants can be tossed into rice or ground into flour, and maggots taste great with spaghetti.
Some State-side shops offer insect fare, but the products are still considered novelty items. Chocolate-covered crickets and larvae lollipops can be ordered online for just over a dollar each, and some local ethnic food shops carry bug items. Check an Asian food grocery or Mexican store in your area for tasty six-legged snacks for a new cultural experience without leaving your city.
If your travels take you to the big apple, one bar offers three insect-infused cocktails for adventurous palettes. Stop by the White and Church bar for a “Rosemary,” cinnamon rum, apple juice, lemon juice, with toasted honeybees and a sprig of rosemary. Although this drink and their other two buggy beverages will run you $13 each, it’s worth the splurge for a unique experience without crossing international borders.