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Ever eat a bug?

  • c

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.

                  2. I'm sorry, but I just cannot even consider eating bugs. Alive, dead or otherwise. Marinated, sauteed, deep fried, battered. No way, no how. If that admission diminishes my Chow standing, then I'm outta here.

                    BTW: I do not consider snails and lobsters bugs. These I eat.
                    But grubs? Worms?? Ants??? No way.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Gio

                      You should meditate that... there really is no difference between Snails & Ant Eggs (culinarily speaking) and you are letting a very superficial mental block affect your Chowcuriosity. Its fine if you never try them... but at least on Chow principle you should be open to them if only intellectually... just my humble 2 cents.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        OK - I admit to having a mental block. Superficial as it may be. But, how do I over come the gag factor? I'm a gardener and I see these creatures in my garden. Some are beneficial and some are not. I wish my intellect could rise above it all .... but I'm not sure it/I can.

                        1. re: Gio

                          Don't you see snails in your garden too? In any case if you read my original post I acknowledge a normal adversion... but if you are open start with Escamoles... they are the most succulent of the bug dishes... once you see what they are... if you've had roe & snails... I can't imagine why you would have a gag reflex..

                          After you like those (and few people don't dig them) then its not that big of a stretch to other stuff. Personally, I can eat the stir fried Chapulines... but a chocolate covered one... if you weren't told what it was... no gag reflex... same thing with the salsas made from gusanitos or chicatanas.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            Actually I see slugs from time to time in my garden, not hard shelled snails.. Those critters which leave a trail of slime as they go about their business eating my prized Hostas. There's no way I'd give them a go. But you are correct...I have had escargot, and roe. Escamoles, hmmmm? Perhaps using the indiginous name might help but in any language they're still ant larvae.

                            1. re: Gio

                              You mean Maine escargot? (Just jokin')

                      2. re: Gio

                        Ditto that, Gio. There is no culinary festoonery that will get me to eat one voluntarily. Drank the last of a bottle of mezcal once, but had the presence of mind to keep my teeth together.

                      3. In Australia, we eat Morton Bay bugs all the time...

                        National delicacy.

                        Ok, that's a bit of an insider joke, but yeah, I'd give bugs a go.

                        No spiders tho..


                        1. I have eaten live bugs - meal worms and crickets. I spent a little time in a sideshow. :)

                          These were quick and dirty snacks though. Couldn't tell you how they tasted. Cricket legs get stuck in your teeth though. Yuck!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: guate

                            When I was in Thailand, they sold loads of different deepfried and bbqed bugs - I tried a grasshopper - just to try it. It wasn't awful - just very dry and crunchy. Wouldn't ever crave it, but glad to have tried it.

                            I steer well clear of "mushy" insects though: worms/maggots/larvae etc just seem to be too hard to swallow for me... Consistency issues methinks!

                            1. re: hangrygirl

                              When I was on Atkins I was always looking for adverturous and satisfying ways to feed myself while avoiding carbs. When I paid a visit to a trendy Asian-Latin restaurant I was excited to see the Atkins symbol next to three of the Thai selections: grasshoppers, scorpions and tarantulas. I was wary, but dedicated to weight loss, and imagined that it would probably come with some delicious Thai sauce rife with chilies and palm sugar to mask the insects.

                              I got a white plate adorned with nothing but a pried-open can of deep-fried grasshoppers. I got probably 3 down before the texture of antennae and legs made me gag and had to wipe my tongues down with my napkin. Not much to them, but I just couldn't take the feeling of disintegrating legs in my mouth.

                              1. re: hangrygirl

                                I agree about the consistency thing. The only bugs I've ever eaten whole (as opposed to roach legs in peanut butter or whatever) are blackflies...otherwise I'd have to spend an entire Maine summer with my mouth shut!

                                I'd be very interested in trying the fried beetles, etc. or the rice-like dishes made from grubs and such (dead, please). The only animal flesh I've eaten in the past 25 years is fish and the occasional piece of KFC (not even sure if that counts), but I have no qualms about eating tasty insects, even if I can identify them as such. "Food with a face" wouldn't deter me from a good pig-out.

                            2. deep fried grasshoppers in thailand - tasted like those overdone french fries that have no insides left

                              i wanted the tarantula in phnom pen but MY gf said she would never kiss me again if i put it in my mouth - ok she didnt say that - but i needed encouragement to go through with it, and she was too grossed out to give me the nudge i needed

                              how can you say you won't eat bugs but happily eat lobsters? those things are just giant sea roaches anyway - delicious giant sea roaches

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: thew

                                do lobsters procreate as quickly as roaches? maybe stupid, but just curious.

                              2. I had some lovely grasshoppers stir-fried in ginger that were delicious. A very nice mouthfeel, as my friend said, and the ginger and sesame made them very tolerable. They are like tofu in the fact that they picked up the flavour of the seasonings, but did not necessarily add any distinctive flavour of its own (they are otherwise not very much like tofu at all, especially texture). I've also had some very tolerable mealworm cookies and the usual chocolate covered ants. Again, they are a vehicle for other flavours, but don't have any distinctive, desirable taste on their own. Not like beef or lamb. Take a piece of good beef, sear it with a bit of salt. You taste beef, and it is good. But does a grasshopper have an inherent flavour that is worth experiencing? That is the question. The grasshopper dish I had was very simple, and the main flavour profile was ginger and sesame.

                                Bugs don't bother me per se. But they have to be tasty for me to tolerate them. So I once had a dried black caterpillar, and I never will again. It was bitter and chalky. Like eating sand. No obvious redeeming taste factors. Maybe if I had pica... And I also tried silk worm larvae in Korea (bun dae gi). Again, bitter, crunchy in a sandy unpleasant way. It was foul. Never again in that format. I suspect there might be a way to make bun dae gi tasty, and I am willing to give it a try again if it is prepared differently.

                                I have never tried the Mexican delicacies that Eat Nopal has mentioned. I would be curious to know if these preparations are tasty because of the inherent bug taste, or if they are tasty because of the wonderful spices and sauces in Mexican culture. Looking forward to your insights.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: moh

                                  The little red Oaxacan grasshoppers actually do have a smoky, nutty delicious flavor on their own, I think you can You Tube for Zimmern's reaction to them.

                                  The Escamoles are delicious... in a similar way that good Roe / Caviar is delicious... they have a very nice texture, and a subtle almost buttery flavor.

                                  Jumiles (Beetles) have a very interesting almost fruity & herbal flavor... if their "flavor" could be extracted and sold as a flavoring people would probably use it (particularly if they didn't know what it was).

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    Ahh, lovely descriptions! i shall certainly have to look out for these delicacies whenever i have a chance to return to those sunny climes...

                                2. Lobsters are basically cockroaches of the sea.

                                  Sea cucumbers are basically worms of the sea.

                                  So, yes, I've eaten bugs and will continue to do so.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    Though I like cockroaches del la mer, I could never stomach the slimyness of sea cucumbers. I always pick them out of my jook.

                                  2. Only when I drive w/the top down (300+ days of the year).

                                    An eye opener was when I travelled to South Korea as a teenager and saw HUGE vats/barrels of beetles & other bugs roasting out on the streets for sale in Seoul. That was when I first realised that folks from other countries ate bugs. Major shocker.

                                    Since then, I've consumed a few; some by choice, others by accident (when driving).

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: OCAnn

                                      "that was when I first realized that folks from other countries ate bugs"

                                      Hate to break it to you, but folks in your country eat bugs too: Cicadas are considered a great delicacy in the Cincinnati/Illinois area, and are eaten whenever they come out (every 17 years apparently).


                                      1. re: moh

                                        Wow... now there is a response for any body that belittles U.S. food culture! Cicada pizza... I am digging it.

                                        1. re: moh

                                          "...folks in your country eat bugs too."


                                          I was 15 and thought I knew everything...Ignorance sure was/is bliss!

                                      2. I've had them and can't say that I'm a fan. They don't taste like much, perhaps a bit of an earthiness to it. It takes on the flavors of whatever is around. I've also had them in herbal medicine which I think is absolutely nasty. I don't mind them as much with chili peppers, salt, etc. However, when you mix bugs with herbal medicinal plants it lends a totally different taste.

                                        1. I have had water beetles. BTW, isn't the lobster a bug?

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: PeterL

                                            In the Zapotec codex that provides a cosmogenic explaination for Chapulines consumption... the word for Lobster & Chapulin is exactly the same. (BTW... the lore is that a Chapulin plague consumed all of the Zapotec corn... from then on the Gods gave them permission to eat these "Lobsters" which were previously seen as vile, unpure & not fit for human consumption).

                                          2. I already have a hard time eating shrimp that I have to peel myself because they are definitely bugs of the sea! Even though I love shrimp.

                                            My dad always used to tell us kids that he didn't eat potato chips or any such fancy packaged snacks growing up in Korea in the 50s. He'd find a long stick and hang out in a field and skewer a bunch of grasshoppers or crickets and then roast them over a fire until their legs fell off and they got nice and crunchy. Ack!

                                            1. I have eaten fried grasshoppers and crickets. I chocolate covered ants have a spicy taste. They won't become part of my diet, but its fun to gross out more squeamish friends and family.

                                              1. No I have never intentionally eaten a bug.

                                                There are chocolate covered grasshoppers/crickets sold every year at the Fall Festival in my hometown. You get a button for eating one and it was always sort of a competition who could eat the most and therefore get the most buttons. We were in high school, go figure. Anyhow, not typically one to back down, I paid my money and was handed my chocolate covered bug. As soon as I had it in hand, I involuntarily screamed, screeched really, and threw it on the ground. After jumping up and down, wringing my hands, and making gross out noises for awhile I realized I am just as horrified of dead chocolate covered bugs as I am of living ones.

                                                As curious as I am about the preparations of bugs around the world, I don't think I would try them and risk having a freak out episode like I did at the Fall Festival. I could get away with it then, but as an adult it would just be offensive, and as much as I'd like to, I really cannot control the involuntary screeching when something freaks me out and bugs do.

                                                  1. Deep fried scorpions when I was biking through China. Tasted like a great potato chip until my mouth and throat started tingling, and my extremities went numb.

                                                    The guides were having a field day, and popped the rest of the plate when all of the tourists had our fill.

                                                    1. Wow, an amazing chow-versation here. I've wanted to try bug dishes whenever I come across them on a menu, or served from a street stall, etc. I'm not particularly grossed out, and I know some of them are quite delish.

                                                      HOWEVER, with that being said, every time I come across them, another part of my brain kicks in (my evil anti-chowish part) and reminds me there could be mercury, or bacteria, or parasites, or any number of other nasty things inside the insect in question. I have no wish for a bout of illness that could easily destroy the rest of my culinary adventures, so each and every time I have to pass.

                                                      Yes, a wuss, I know... but better safe than sorry. Maybe all these insect based dishes will be on my Bucket List.

                                                      1. when i was in high school and not very adventuress when it came to food, I went to coldstone where my sister bought me some ice cream. They had a promotion where if you paid the dollor or 2 for a topping of chocolate covered crickets and ate them in front of an employee they'd give you a coupon for a free ice cream. Wanting to pay my sister back for her generousity i got the crickets and ate them and i gotta say not bad. I think of anything is cooked in the right way (or covered in chocolate) and you have an open mind you'll enjoy it.

                                                        1. I realize this is an older topic but I thought I'd say something anyway.

                                                          Last year when the 17-year cicadas came out in the IL area I decided I'd try them. They were pretty good. So good in fact that I have eaten quite a few of them. I have eaten them as nymphs (before they come out of their shells), as well as adults. I tried them alive, BBQed and covered in chocolate and I must say that I prefer them alive. Don't know why but they have more flavor that way. I've heard it said that cicadas taste like peanut butter or almonds. I don't think they taste like either. I recently discovered what they taste like though, they taste like avacado! :-) Cicadas are pretty good! I enjoy eating them.

                                                          I have also eaten worms (although those aren't really considered bugs are they?). I raised some in my basement. I rolled them in flour and/or sugar and fried them. They were ok, but not the best. They literally tasted like dirt. I heard somewhere that if you put them in apple sauce for a few hours before you cook them they taste better. I might try that sometime...but haven't yet.

                                                          I hope to be able to try more bugs in the future as well.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: cicadagirl

                                                            you definately have the best chow username for this thread.

                                                          2. My husband and I tried fried crickets at a Mexican restaurant. I was hoping they'd be ground up or something and not look like bugs. After a while I couldn't look at them and made my husband remove them from my sight.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: MrsT

                                                              NYC area opportunity: I recently spotted (but did not sample, I confess) canned fried cricket at Ally's Grocery Store, a Thai shop right across from Upi Jaya Indonesian restaurant: 76-13 Woodside Ave, Queens, NY 11373. See also: http://www.eatingintranslation.com/20...

                                                            2. I enjoyed "Tex-Mex" seasoned meal-worms back in high school - I think it was 1999 - when my friend brought them back from Los Angeles along with a t-shirt. It was also the year of the movie City of Angels.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                Remember the McDonald's worm beef extender scare in the 70's?

                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                  I wasn't born until 1984 - I see enough conspiracy theories just because of that, I don't need to start finding more reasons!

                                                              2. As my name implies

                                                                Chapulines in a fresh corn tortilla with queso fresco and a nice salsa, en el mercado de Oaxaca- best indulgance ever, nothing can match the zest of the chapulines. Its also fun to pluck the legs out from in between your teeth...

                                                                1. I had a grasshopper taco once here in DC. It was delicious actually - a nice toasted nutty flavor and a texture not unlike Rice Krispies.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: mordacity

                                                                    i had a few grasshopper and cricket tacos in san francisco, and i agree with you about the flavour and texture. this was my only bug eating experience, i believe. and i really believe them to be absolutely delicious. all hail the cricket and grasshopper tacos.

                                                                    1. When I was in college my mother, knowing I had an adventurous palate, sent a birthday "care package" that contained a can of fried bees-looked just like pet turtle food, no candy coating to disguise them. They were like potato chips. Being a prankish sort in the college tradition I rationed them out by occasionally placing 2-3 in the window sill of my dorm room. When friends came to visit I would retrieve them in front of my friends and feigning to be surreptitious about it, sneak them into my mouth-giving the impression that I was hiding my snack because I was guilty about eating an insect. This would produce an awkward silence during which I would just look at the floor before eventually revealing the can that the bees came from and thus re-establishing my sanity.

                                                                      1. Yes, I ate a bbq edible bug from the Bug Museum in Philadelphia.

                                                                        1. Maine lobstermen refer to their hommarus americanus as bugs".

                                                                          1. Old post, older story: About 25 years ago my brother cried to my mother that there were bugs all over his pancakes. He had whimpered wolf before. She threatened him with loss of big wheel and such, "can't leave the table today" until he stopped crying and ate the food she made for him. He sobbingly ate the food, baby. It was discovered while he was outside that many, many ants had gotten into the syrup.
                                                                            That 4 year old is now a fearless eater. Not sure if they are linked. Loves his 2 wheel bikes and motorcycles too.
                                                                            He went to Thailand recently and ordered "woof woof" and "meow" and considered those his safe foods.

                                                                            1. Hi. I'm new to Chowhound and am really curious to find any places in the LA area or actually, anywhere in the States that are serving up insects and bugs of any sort on their menus? Any suggestions really appreciated. Thanks!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: slk2011

                                                                                >>> am really curious to find any places in the LA area or actually, anywhere in the States that are serving up insects


                                                                                Welcome to Chowhound. Your best bet for a response is to start a topic on the Los Angeles board asking if any restaurants have bugs on the menu. A few Mexican joints might have deep fried grasshoppers.

                                                                              2. AAAHHHHH! I ate a stink bug last night. I was cozy in my bed with a glass of wine and a book. Earlier, during the day, I had put all the plants and trees outside for the season, so I had the doors open for a while. Apparently, some bugs made their way in.

                                                                                I reached over, took a sip of wine, and Ugh! Couldn't figure what the hell was in my mouth until I noticed the little group of stink bugs that had gathered under the lamp on the night table. It was truly gross, it stunk IN MY MOUTH.

                                                                                So yes, in addition to chocolate covered ants and grasshoppers, I have now eaten a live bug.