The UN is encouraging everyone in the world to eat insects for the good of our health and the future of the
planet. But are the arguments compelling enough to make you munch on a bag of
crunchy scorpions or sprinkle your cereal with squidgy larvae?
According to the UN report, "consumer disgust" remains a large
barrier in many Western countries – but for some two billion people across the
world, eating insects is really no big deal.
Take Barichara, in Colombia's Santander region. Not
only known for its impossibly perfect colonial architecture and stunning mountainous
setting, the town is also a centre of production for “fat-bottomed” culona
ants. The insects are revered in the region for their nutritional value and
reputedly aphrodisiac qualities, and have for centuries been roasted as a snack
or accompaniment to a meal.
At the town's Color
de Hormiga (Colour of Ants)
restaurant, I put squeamishness to one side and ordered their signature dish:
filet mignon in an ant salsa. I figured that the tiny ants would be
indistinguishable once cooked in a sauce. But the clue was in the name – these
fat-bottomed ladies (for it is only the queens that are harvested) had
backsides the size of a garden pea and heads not much smaller. It was
disconcerting, but they were tasty and crunchy – like a salty crispy bacon
topping for the steak.
Want to try some crawly cuisine for yourself?
For an eye-opening feast of edible insects, it's
hard to beat the Donghuamen night market in Beijing, China. Browse the steaming stalls for your pick of centipedes,
silk worms, scorpions, beetles, crickets and more – deep fried and usually
served on a skewer.
Travel to Mexico
for fried grasshoppers – particularly popular in the southern state
of Oaxaca, where they are called chapulines. They're usually fried
or toasted with chilli, lime and garlic and sold in markets or restaurants.
If you want to experience something of the
Aboriginal diet in Australia,
companies such as Bushtucker
Tour offer the chance
to get your jaws around a witiji grub (also spelled witchetty) – a large
wood-eating moth larvae found in the Australian outback. The grub, when
roasted, is said to have a crispy skin with a yellow “eggy” centre.
And it's perfectly normal to snack on fried
insects in Thailand, where fried
giant water bugs, crickets, bamboo worms and grasshoppers are ubiquitous and
served in scoops for snacking whole. If you can't decide, don't despair,
insect-vendors will usually offer you a mixed bag from their cart.
snacks be seen as a prize, not a punishment? Join the discussion on our