Squash it. Swat it. Smush it. It's what most of us do when we see a bug. But for some insect enthusiasts, the first impulse . . . eat it. It's called entomophagy — categorizing bugs as culinary delights.
Challenged by bug lover David Gracer, a group of so-called Gastronauts sampled a creepy, crawly menu he prepared of crickets, giant water bugs, ant and silkworm pupae and cicadas.
"I'm a little scared, honestly," said Gastronaut Hillary Cooper, before the meal. "I'm even more nervous about this than I was the live octopus." Down the hatch.
After the jump, Gracer argues that the world would be a better place if we all ate bugs instead of beef, pork and chicken.
Gracer catches, raises and buys his own critters. He promotes these "gourmet insects" as part of a healthy, sustainable diet.
"If we judge insects simply as we would any other food, simply from the point of view of pure nutrition, insects can compete and often out compete anything else you would name," says Gracer.
And, he says, they don't taste half bad either. "I fried [the grub] up and it was like bacon soup with a sweet cream cheese finish," he says. "It was pure fats, an explosion of flavor on the palate."
As the owner of Rhode Island's Sunrise Land Shrimp, Gracer offers bug-buffet catering for the fearless, the curious and the gag reflex controlled. In New York, he put his creations before a group of self-professed adventurous diners. If there's such a thing as "extreme eating," that's what the Gastronauts do. In the spirit of cultural exploration, they trek about the city in search of the rarest, the grossest, and the most bizarre foods they can find — things like baby chicken heads, python meat and chicken anus.
But Gracer's hairy-legged, winged ingredients tested even the Gastronauts' inner Anthony Bourdains. Gastronaut Cooper was far from convinced about taking this particular plunge.
"I think it's just because I just hate bugs in general," she said.
If any of this whets your appetite, here are some recipes so you can make your own bug meal.