Monday, August 25, 2008

Bug-Eating Still Makes Me Buggy


I was in 5th grade the first time I became aware that people ate bugs for reasons other than wanting to make someone else vomit. It was the beginning of the school year and our social studies class was doing one of those "What I did over the summer vacation" time-wasting exercises. While I was trying to figure out how to spin my exciting summer of sitting in the basement watching TV, one of my better-heeled classmates regaled the class with a talk about his trip to South America and his discovery that people eat ants because they like them. Of course, he nailed the presentation by producing a can of chocolate covered ants and handing out samples to anyone brave enough to try them. (I did not.)

I eventually overcame my fear of eating any kind of bug and have eaten baked and fried grasshoppers, fried meal worms and smoked ants. But each of the half-dozen or so times I engaged in entomophagy, the gustatory experience was underwhelming: the flavor and texture of the bugs did not justify the work it took to get passed the fact that I was eating animals that I has become acculturated to see as associated with plague, pestilence and (in the case of ants ) the flensing of the carcasses of dead squirrels and battlefield mortalities.

But hey, don't let the unpleasant images that I associate with insects and eating wreck your appetite for vermin. Why not surf over to Sunrise Land Shrimp where Dave offers a variety of services designed to help you overcome your culturally inspired aversion to eating things that you have learned to protect yourself from by

  • sealing all foundation cracks
  • spraying all areas of infiltration and infestation with insecticide
  • placing all dry goods in tightly sealed containers
  • stomping with foot in heavy boot and etcetera
I know it is not rational to be put off by a dish of "bean worm" (above) but be totally okay eating some other animal. And as someone who likes to think of himself as pretty rational, the contradiction is mildly embarrassing. But that's alright, I'll live with it. Besides, I'm probably not half as rational as I think I am.

Anyone care for a plush cup cake?

1 comment:

Mike Pardus said...

In Vietnam they harvest wasp larvae from coconuts - the wasp lays the eggs inside of an immature coconut, the eggs hatch, the larvae feed solely on coconut for the first stage of life. The "grubs" are captured and sold live. Prepare them by deep frying live and serving with steamed rice and stir fried water-spinach.....tastes like coconut flavored liver. Not bad, but not worth seeking out either.
In Bangkok, it was amusing to see young couples walking arm-in-arm down the street, stopping at the Fried Bug Vendor, and walking away sharing a cone of deep fried crawlies....just like a British couple might be seen walking along sharing a cone of fish'n'chips.