A book recently crossed my desk titled, The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook by David George Gordon. Judging from the title, you could probably guess what the featured ingredient is in most of these recipes. Taking a page from the recent UN report that stated eating insects is a way of improving global security (cheap, plentiful and environmentally sustainable), this book advocates for chowing down on everything from garden grazers to insect larva. Needless to say, this cookbook by Gordon will not likely outsell the current Martha Stewart tome or whatever Paleo diet book is big now, but it will likely create some conversation, and may even get some adventurous souls to eat an insect or two, or more.
Here on the east coast, where it seems insects are more than plentiful, they are about to reach critical mass with the awakening of brood II cicadas, which are slowly emerging from a 17-year slumber. And like teens on spring break, they are set to get wild and very, very loud. Cicadas have been feasting on tree roots underground for nearly two decades, which make them a high-protein, gluten-free, low-fat and low-carb treat, if you are willing to go there. Gordon offers just one recipe in his book for cicadas, which takes the form of a pizza, or as he calls it, a “Piz-zz-zz-za.” In his recipe, he adds cicada to a regular pizza crust, along with artichokes, red pepper flakes and mozzarella cheese.
While I am still undecided as to whether or not I really want to harvest a bucketful of these red-eyed arthropods (they are often called “shrimp of the land” by cicada-eating enthusiasts), I don’t think I would personally choose them as a pizza topping. I would be more inclined to clean them, remove legs and wings, and then roast them. I would imagine they taste like popcorn (those that are experienced say they taste like nutty asparagus).
Would you, could you eat a cicada? Does the thought of it just ruin your appetite? Is it preferable to eating some industrially farmed animal that was treated and slaughtered under questionable conditions? If not cicadas, what insect would you be happy to chow down?