"Those who forget the pasta are condemned to reheat it." ~Unknown

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Entomophagy: Insects Are Food Too

     You would have to live under a rock to not know that entomophagy (the consumption of insects as food) is the food topic of the summer.  Respectable publications, from The New Yorker to The AtlanticThe New York Times, and countless others, have published articles on the subject.  Entomophagy proponents say that world war three will be over food, and the societies that can adapt to eat insects will win.  They promote insects as being high in protein, which, in the case of crickets contain three times as much protein as beef.  To top it off, insects, from crickets and cicadas to mealworms, thrive in the filthy, crowded conditions that humans are so good at creating.  But the real question is do crickets taste good?
     The first stop on our dinner shopping trip was Petsmart.
"What kind of animal are you feeding," asked the lady behind the cricket counter?  We glanced at each other.
"Humans," We replied.  The rest of the time she spent gathering our three dozen small crickets we were treated as slightly crazy.

"Be careful, or dinner will escape"
     Once we got home we put the crickets in the fridge so that when we put them in the frying pan they wouldn't be able to jump out.  In addition to the sauteed crickets we'll be having roasted tomato halves, summer has finally come to Oregon and with a whole summer's worth of ripe tomatoes.  We'll sauteé the crickets on the grill, to keep the heat outside, with scallions, garlic, and butter, a no frills recipe from insectsarefood.com.

First up on the grill is flank steak for tomorrow night's dinner. (Dad is obsessive about getting multiple uses out of a hot grill.) When the flank steak is done, we're going to start the crickets as an appetizer.  They've been in the fridge for the past two hours, so they shouldn't jump around to much.  I'm crossing my fingers.  Apparently almost three hours in the fridge doesn't slow them down!  Almost immediately they started jumping every which way, luckily only one escaped and they are all in the freezer.  It's so much easier when your food is already dead.
     Turns out all the crickets needed was a few seconds in the freezer and they were out cold.  Then we dropped them into the hot skillet with garlic and scallions, and a few minutes later they were done.  We drained off the extra butter, and seasoned them in three separate batches.  On the first we used plain salt, the second we used Trinidad Lemon Garlic Marinade from the Chicago Spice House and West Indies Barbeque Seasoning (also from the Chicago Spice House).  Every option tasted great.  The crickets were crunchy, and a number of ideas for their use came leaping out.  You could throw them over pasta, eat them like potato chips or use them as beer nuts.  Imagine that America, alongside your Superbowl guacamole, chex mix, and peanuts: fried crickets, fried, salty crickets.

     The rest of the meal was rather boring in comparison, it was all new recipes and it was all grilled. Grilled veggies with mint, grilled tomatoes stuffed with breadcrumbs and parmesan, grilled kale with coconut milk dressing. An excellent meal, but one that will only be remembered for a single reason...insects

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