So with outback horror The Town released it was time to start research on my next novel: Flora & Jim, the post-apocalyptic story I’ve always wanted to write.
Flora & Jim takes place in a cold depopulated world. Wasteful humanity left plenty of crap behind, but the animals have evolved to be superior at accessing the abandoned resources.
That leaves good old Jim the choice of luring tasty insects out of their hidey-holes in abandoned buildings … or taking on other people.
In this day and age bugs are happily crunched in many parts of the world, and coming under food pressure the rest are starting to take a hard look.
I ordered the Insect Lovers Trial Pack from the Edible Bug Shop, suppliers to restaurants and trendy thrill-seekers.
1. Roasted Crickets How was it??:
I started with crickets because if you’re gonna eat bugs you should just eat bugs. Delicious fried smell as soon as I cracked the packet, which immediately made me want some Chinese broccoli and oyster sauce to go with. The cricket is relatively inoffensive. It’s not even 2cm long and has any semblance of “bugginess” roasted from it. You can pick it up, get it right in close to your eyes without revulsion.
Crickets are dry on the palate. Not much initial flavour but strong, surprisingly tasty fried carapace after-feel – very much like soft shell crab but without that gag-inducing Cthulhu-rising-from-the-ocean bottom-feeder taste. Seems like it should be salty, but isn’t.
A big bowl of crickets would probably be mouth desiccating but honestly this flavour would complement so many things.
Rating out of 5: 4/5.
Would totally eat more, but not on their own. Pairs with:
I had this with a Brown Brothers Vintage Sparkling Moscato. Not by design, it was just what I had handy. I’d recommend a crisp very cold Riesling.
“I raised myself by my elbows, dropped ice in my Singha, and cooled my mouth’s fire. About us were the remnants of our lunch: bowls of noodles, a plate of lightly fried grasshoppers (bite their heads off, suck their juices, Primavera had advised), and a cuttlefish soup spiced with rat-shit chilli that had spread over the thinly carpeted floor.”
– Dead Girls, Richard Calder.
2. Roasted Mealworms How was it??:
Same fried soft shell crab whiff as the crickets, although not nearly so strong.
I'm not gonna lie to you. Mealworms don’t look so nice. Especially with their teeny little legs clasped across their chest in death’s soothing embrace. However they sure are tasty. Full flavoured, nutty and slightly peppery, with less glassy dry crunch than the crickets.
Rating out of 5: 4/5
As a snack you could absently power through a whole bowl of these while pounding Netflix or whatever it is you trendy young folk watch.
Not being a beer drinker, I’m gonna suggest a crisp tart cider. But you could go with beer. I’m not the boss of you.
“Behind them, the sound of the worm’s passage stopped. Jessica and Paul turned, peered out onto the desert. Where the dunes began, perhaps fifty meters away at the foot of a rock beach, a silver-grey curve broached from the desert, sending rivers of sand a dust cascading all around. It lifted higher, resolved into a giant, questing mouth. It was a round, black hole with edges glistening in the moonlight.”
- Dune, Frank Herbert
3. Bug-O Nut Rough How was it??:
This one is a novelty item. It’s nice chocolate, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not in love with sweets and wouldn’t seek it out. Including bugs probably changes the nutrition profile, but unless somebody specifically mentions the creepy crawlies you’d never guess.
I wasn’t even going to bother documenting this until I unwrapped it and oh look, it’s shaped like an adorable bee!
Rating out of 5: 3/5
Didn’t feel strongly one way or the other. Good example of how bugs can be integrated into food in ways that make you go *meh*.
Whatever. The sweetness of the chocolate will bomb your palate anyhow.
“But Augustus was deaf to everything except the call of his enormous stomach. He was now lying full length on the ground with his head far out over the river, lapping up the chocolate like a dog.”
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Roald Dahl
4. Choc Chip Cricket Cookies How was it??:
While I’m not into sweet things, whoever did these knows how to make a damn good mini-cookie. Sweet, soft, but not too crumbly. If you got one of these as part of your aeroplane courtesy meal you’d be delighted.
Same as with the chocolate; if nobody pointed out the bugginess you’d neither know nor care.
Rating out of 5: 4/5
Extra point for being a good cookie.
Coffee as hot and black as your soul, to offset the sweetness.
“It was all very well to say ‘Drink me,’ but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. ‘No, I’ll look first,’ she said, ‘ and see whether it’s marked ‘poison’ or not’; for she had read several nice little stories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts, and other unpleasant things ..”
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
5. Dehydrated Ants Vial How was it??:
I was dreading this one. Not a fan of that squished ant formic acid smell and the way it inspires all their buddies to bum rush and sting you to death.
Here’s the vial. The vial was mostly of unidentifiable ant bits. Much like the humble zucchini, ants don’t seem to be known for holding their sh*t together during cooking.
Opening the vial I of course managed to flick them all over me. They were also exceedingly difficult to photograph but if you can make this out: aaah, look at all their little disembodied heads! Licking them off the page seemed to be the only way to get them into my damn mouth, but I was surprised by a pleasant unique citrus-and-wood flavour with a nutty aftertaste. I’m a lazy, bad cook and these made me want to immediately start experimenting with them.
Rating out of 5: 5/5
F*ck sesame seeds, we should be sprinkling ants on everything.
Ants are really a seasoning, so just pair your beverage with whatever food you add them to.
“When the woman’s shadow got within a few feet of Makowski’s … she opened up, she bloomed like a spider orchid, erupted into a hideous collection of waving, clicking appendages that reached out like a hand …”
- Dead Sea, Tim Curran