Entomophagy: Bug Delicacies Around the World
Entomophagy refers to the eating of insects, and it is practiced worldwide. It seems only logical that bugs are widely used as a food source- they are plentiful, virtually everywhere, and many of them hold a surprising amount of nutritional value. Read on to learn about some of the bug-based dishes that can be found in different countries. These dishes are not for the faint of heart, though- some of them are served live!
Ants are consumed as a delicacy in a number of countries around the world. They are high in protein, iron, calcium, and vitamins, and they are available virtually anywhere. Ants vary in flavor from bitter to sweet depending on their species and what country they are from. Some species are rumored to taste like lemongrass, while ants in Brazil are said to taste like mint- and what goes better with mint than chocolate? In a São Paulo municipality called Silveiras, chocolate covered ant clusters are a popular dessert.
Hormiga culona, which can be found in the Colombian department of Santander, are fat-bottomed ants that are soaked in salt water, fried, and sold as a snack.
Chicatanas are Mexican flying ants that are harvested yearly in the spring and served in a few different ways. Often, they are added to a sauce called salsa de chicatana or toasted with seasonings and served as a snack.
Cicadas are eaten in many Asian countries including Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand. A popular method of preparing cicadas in some regions is to marinate and deep fry them. Cicadas are consumed in parts of the United States as well, where they are usually served with leafy greens.
Crickets and Grasshoppers
Crickets and grasshoppers are enjoyed as a culinary experience in countries like Uganda, Mexico, and Thailand. Chapulines, which are part of some Mexican cuisines, are deep-fried grasshoppers that are usually seasoned with chili and lime. Their flavor has been compared to both malt vinegar and bacon.
Grasshoppers are a seasonal favorite in Uganda, where they are caught in November and then boiled, sun-dried, or fried in their own fat.
Crickets are more common in Thailand. They are generally fried and seasoned with Golden Mountain sauce, which is similar to soy sauce. This dish, called jing leed, is said to taste somewhat like popcorn and is popularly paired with cold beer.
Believe it or not, birds and fish are not the only animals whose eggs we eat. Insect eggs are consumed in countries like Mexico and Thailand. Insect eating in Mexico dates all the way back to the Aztecs, who were fond of two delicacies called Escamoles and Ahuatle, both of which are still enjoyed today. Escamoles are black ant eggs whose texture has been compared to creamy cottage cheese. They are usually either boiled or fried with butter, onions, and chili. Then, they are added to creamy soups, tacos, or omelets. Ahuatle are water fly eggs that are typically fried in a pan or added to savory pies. The availability of this dish is dwindling due to water pollution.
In Thailand, mod daeng is the name for the weaver ants that are highly prized in both egg and adult form. Their eggs, called kai mod daeng, are coveted for their rich flavor, medicinal properties, and high vitamin, sugar, and protein contents. The eggs are often used for a dessert called tom kati kai mod daeng.
Did you know locusts are the only insects that are considered kosher? In Israel, where locust populations are booming, locals have taken to controlling their numbers by eating them. Most commonly, they are fried so they stay crunchy. Sometimes, they are topped with meringue for a sweet snack, and other times they are rolled in flour, garlic, and spices before being fried. Locusts are said to taste like prawns and are highly nutritional.
Scorpions can be found at street vendors and fine restaurants in provinces throughout China. They are skewered, seasoned, dunked in hot oil, and served live. At fancier restaurants, they may be coated with a white wine sauce before being dunked in oil. Scorpions have a flavor similar to that of soft-shell crab.
Stink bug eating in Mexico dates back to pre-Columbian times. They are thought to have medicinal properties and have been used in the past by indiginous peoples to treat kidney, liver, and stomach issues. They also have analgesic and anesthetic properties and can be used to numb toothaches. Mexican stink bugs, called jumiles, have a spicy flavor that has been compared to mint and cinnamon. Jumiles can be dipped in sauce and served live, toasted and placed inside tacos, or added to pico de gallo and guacamole.
A-ping is a Cambodian delicacy made of a tarantula that has been fried with salt, garlic, sugar, and an array of spices, then roasted until it turns red. Their flavor is akin to crab meat.
Termites have long been used as a food source in Kenya and there is a very high demand for them. They are harvested from homes and sold by the pound to be roasted with spices, or added to a cornmeal porridge called ugali. Sometimes, they are added to tea. They are known to have an earthy flavor and they are highly nutritional. In some rural villages, it is tradition to feed ground up termites to babies to aid growth.
In Japan, residents of the Gifu prefecture attend the Kushihara Wasp Festival, during which wasps are celebrated and prepared in an assortment of dishes. They may be cooked into crackers or gelatin, or ground up and added to different kinds of sauces. They may also be marinated to be placed on sushi.
Worms and Grubs
Worms, caterpillars, and grubs are consumed for protein across the globe. The witchetty grub is a favorite among residents of the Aboriginal bush. Live and raw, they taste like almond, while the cooked grubs taste like roast chicken. One has to be careful eating a raw witchetty grub though- when the head is bitten off first, it might bite back on the way down!
In Zimbabwe, the mopane worm is prepared and eaten in a variety of different ways. They can be flattened and dried to resemble potato chips, ground up and added to sauces, or added to soups and stews for protein.
Chinicuiles is a dish from Mexico that is made from maguey worms. Maguey worms are the red worms found at the bottom of mezcal bottles. They are also commonly fried or roasted and served in tortillas with lime, chili, green tomatoes, and salt.
In the U.S. and many parts of Asia, mealworms are boiled or fried and consumed for their health benefits.
Next time you go abroad, you’ll know which local delicacies to order! (Or avoid.) If you’ve got insects in your home that you’re not planning to eat, give Excel a call today or take a look at our Residential and Commercial pest control plans.
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