Friday, April 11, 2008

Entomophagy 101

I guess I have never outgrown my juvenile gross-out fascination phase, because the moment I spied it, I had to buy "The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook: 33 Ways to Cook Grasshoppers, Ants, Water Bugs, Spiders, Centipedes, and Their Kin" (by David George Gordon, Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 1988). I'm not soon planning to cook up any Scorpion Scalloppine, Cream of Katydid Soup, Pest-O (groan), Alpha-Bait Soup or any other entomological delights, (I'll leave that up to the pros) but it is really a great read.

Gordon has a breezy, funny writing style and his food stylist makes the leggiest, spiniest, most horrifying accompanying photographs. I found myself riveted to my reading with facial rictus (I know, because my muscles ached afterwards). I (and Gordon apparently) have also never lost our delight in puns, which pungently spice up this creepy, crawly smorgasbord.

If you are tempted by this paean to insectivore cuisine you'll have to procure your own copy, because I'm not selling mine. It's too much fun. You can sample one of Gordon's recipes for Sheesh! Kabobs here, with humorous cooking tips such as "Assemble each kabob, alternately skewering the insects, red pepper, and onion wedges to create a visually interesting lineup." It is just a scream.

Gordon has his own engaging website where you can read about his other science books, (now I have to buy his slug book), check out his author appearances and lectures and follow him on his travel blog, "Travels with my Ant", where you can find out how the Boston Health Inspectors wouldn't issue a permit for his bug cookery, while their Seattle counterparts mandated a cooking canopy to prevent raw insects from falling down on their brethren en flambe.

If you do want to add some insect protein to your diet and your backyard lacks biodiversity, then you might also want to check out this mail order house of horrors where you can order Antlix Lollipops (ants add a chili kick to these peppermint pops), Worm Crisps, Thai Curry Crickets, and big, juicy Mopani worms from South Africa.

If you prefer your insects alive, unchewed and behind glass, I and my family can heartily recommend a visit to Montreal's Insectarium. Several years ago this was one of the highlights of our trip North, where we were fascinated by roomfuls of shiny beetles, foot-long walking sticks and a see-through beehive. The building itself is shaped like a giant ladybug for extra child-fascination points. Here's one of the photos we took when we there. See if you can find the bug in this photo:

So, saddle up to the bug's good for you.

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