“I'll Eat Anything That Doesn't Try to Eat Me First.” Food for Thought on Insects?

Thursday, May 16 2011

When some asked my dad if he liked or didn't like a particular food, he'd always reply "I'll eat anything that doesn't try to eat me first."

"Let Them Eat Bugs" evoked this particular memory. Sometime in the 60's, I had the chance to sample chocolate-covered ants and bees. The "candy" was formed in little cubes that looked and tasted more like chocolate candy with a bit of popped rice than insect, as I recall. On the other hand, fried (or was it simply dried?) grasshopper definitely looked like grasshopper. Crunchy. No particular taste. Would I eat them now? As the old pre-Newton saying goes, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." (In other words, SURE!)

Bugs baked into chocolate or fried pose no threat of eating anyone; the ratio of chocolate or cooking oil to bug, however, seems to pose a greater threat of obesity if one were to satisfy nutritional needs with those insects.

My "gut" feeling is that, at least in the U.S., the omnivore label won't extend to insect-eaters any time soon. One reason: I suspect the ICK response of food companies is probably higher than that of consumers. Can you image any food company or restaurant that's failed an FDA or even a local  inspection suddenly offering insects? Another reason: as "Let Them Eat Bugs" observes, it's a cultural thing. I enjoy kiszka and czarnina (blood sausage and duck's blood soup) as part of my heritage, but I don't quite understand the culinary delights of cervelle de veau (calf brain).

In my trips to Japan over the past 40+ years, however, I've consumed a goodly number of "interesting" foods: at an inn's breakfast, baby octopuses (octopi?) with tentacles curdled decoratively around their tiny bodies no bigger than a small button mushroom; at a restaurant in Osaka, thinly-sliced basashi (raw horse meat); raw fugu (the notorious puffer fish) at several Tokyo restaurants; kojira "bacon" (whale meat); doburoku, a milky brew made by fermenting koji mold with a rice-water mixture.

I could go on with these tasty (yes, really!) reminiscences; I'll probably be enjoying a one or two of these a couple of days from now in Tokyo. Probably no bugs though.

Category: Now You Know
Filed under: Food/Nutrition,Obesity, Insects, Japan