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Jan 24, 2008 02:01 PM

Ever eat a bug?

You may not think so. But you, me, and all of us in fact have consumed them in our processed foods.

But what about as a main food source or ingredient in a dish?

Some time ago I viewed a nature program where an arachnologist went to study the elusive goliath birdeater tarantula that lives mostly in the rain forests of northern South America. Though in order not to offend his guides he had to agree to eat of one should they catch it. Something about their beliefs. Of course he wasn't keen on the idea, becuase of his chosen profession (rather study than eat), but it was the only way he was going to get escorted deep into the rain forest by the guides. Anyway, long story short...They ended up capturing one and cooked it whole over a campfire. As I remember most of the meat they consumed was in the legs, just like a (sea) crab. And in fact that's what the arachnologist said the taste of it somewhat reminded him of.

Just a story I wanted to share to get this topic going.

Personally I haven't consumed any meals or dishes featuring insects. But I'm wondering about other Chowhounders. Who out there has? Who out there might consider it? I'm sure though that most have some sort of 'understandable' aversion. Your welcome to comment too. However, I'm one of those who those who would try just about anything once. So...let's talk edible bugs???

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  1. I've enjoyed deep fried beetles--adults of white grubs, a root pest of upland rice and maize in Mindanao, Philippines.

    The grubs eat the roots of rice and maize, but suicidally swarm every one or two years depending on rainfall. When they swarm, they do so in selected trees of a single species. People knock the adult beetles out of the trees and deep fry them.

    Delicious. The legs and antenna fall away, leaving a crispy and crunchy bite of deep-fried goodness. And the rice and maize farmers get a measure of futile revenge.

    The commonly eaten insects in Mexico are even better.

    1. * Yawn * Bug Eating is old news for Chowhounders

      > Chapulines (Crickets) sauteed with Tomato, Onions & Chiles
      > Chicatanas (Flying Ants)... mashed into a spicy salsa
      > Jumiles (Beetles)... alive in tacos
      > Gusanos de Maguey (Agave grubs)... mashed into salsa
      > Escamoles (Giant Ant Eggs) sauteed with Butter & Epazote

      When prepared properly these are all delicious and I can't imagine any real Chowhounder (understandably with some aversions) turning down the opportunity to try them prepared at their best.

      In less than 15 years... bug eating in Mexico went from being a shameful, "indian" thing to do... to a chic, haute & hot trend that has grown into well established modern day traditions backed with a strong supply chain etc.,

      Give it another 20 years... it will have its sizeable cult following here in the States (now there is just a tiny cult following... people in L.A. familar with Guelagetza know what I am talking about).

      6 Replies
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        * Yawn * Bug Eating is old news for Chowhounders

        Wow. Pardon me Nopal. Didn't realize this. I've only been posting here since November. I still consider myself a newbie. I didn't realize I should only try posting topics that haven't already been visited. I see however, you had no problem with adding your own insightful comments on this 'old subject'. Thanks!

        1. re: crt

          I apologize... I didn't realize you were a newb. Welcome to Chowhound... yes some of us are grouchy & opinionated!

        2. re: Eat_Nopal

          I don't see anyone saying they are eating bugs that scare me out when alive: potato bugs, ear wigs, cockroaches, scorpions, millipedes, centipedes. So there are some taboos among you bug eaters?

          1. re: chocolatetartguy

            I've definitely seen pictures of some very nice looking dishes featuring cockroaches, scorpions and millipedes/centipedes in a book called "Strange Food", and "Extreme Cuisine". The scorpions were in lollipops and in a canape that also had asparagus on it. I would imagine the bugs are much less scary when they are dead and cooked...

            1. re: chocolatetartguy

              I will tell you my motto... if any major cultural group consumes it on a regular basis (i.e., its not a fear factor dish within their own subgroup) then I am willing to try it at least once.... most cultures don't embrace crap so there must be something good to it!

              I do know Mexicans that eat scorpions... but its such a rustic practice (without ritual sauces or preparations) that I don't think I would call it cuisine, myself.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                My motto too. I have, however, learned to ride my motorcycle with my mouth closed to reduce bug consumption. Fried grasshoppers and chocolate covered ants.
                Grubs in Bolivia and in the markets of Korea.
                And according to Consumer Reports, an anylized part of breakfast sausage along w/ rat feces.

          2. I'd have a very hard time eating a whole bug. I've always been terrified of bugs (the live ones), so I'm not sure I could eat a dead one. And no way would I eat a live bug in a taco. But I'd be willing to try something that wasn't bug-shaped, like ant eggs or a bee flour chapati.


            If that means I'm not a true chowhound, so be it.


            1. I once ate a worm on a dare as a kid, but never knowingly ate a bug. That said, I would be open to eating bugs if they are prepared in one of the ways sam or eat nopal mentioned. Aren't shrimp or crabs or lobster (or all) considered the "spiders of the sea"? Well I love all of them, so what the heck? You only live once. Plus, if you've ever eaten peanut butter, you've ingested all kinds of bugs :)

                1. re: eLizard

                  Or escargot?

                  Yeah, not technically bugs but if you have them crawling in your garden ... bug.

                  I almost had some of those Mexican grasshoppers until I found out they contain a lot of lead due to environmental factors. It wasn't the bug it was the additive that stopped me.

                  If I had to due to social circumstances because it was part of someone's culture, I would. If I was starving, I would. If it was served at some trendy restaurant I would.

                  I just wouldn't go out of my way to eat bugs ... unless I read a report on Chowhound about the most amazingly delicious bug dish.

                  There's some museum in NY that does these bug dinners every now and then. I heard reports that bugs aren't all that.

                  1. re: rworange

                    The high lead chapulines were those feeding on sunflowers and other plants being used for phytoremediation in one small part of Oaxaca.

                    1. re: rworange

                      You are right about the grasshoppers there is some truth to that depending on the source... to your point are bugs really delicious sometimes... not usually there are other reasons to embrace them... the Aztec environmentalist approach is just beautiful.