Trying New Things, Eating Weird Things

by Gray Cargill on October 3, 2012

Post image for Trying New Things, Eating Weird Things

I admit it: I am not the most adventurous eater in the world. I can’t bear to watch Andrew Zimmern eating animal testicles and eyeballs and all the other weird shit he eats on behalf of the Travel Channel. I can’t even bear the idea of eating caviar (fish eggs)—one of the world’s delicacies for many—because as a child I would watch my grandfather clean fish, and some of them turned out to be pregnant and would spill out eggs when he cut them open and it GROSSED. ME. OUT.

I’ve been willing to try a few odd things over my lifetime, though—like frog’s legs (yes, they taste like chicken), escargot (that would be snails to you and me), and deep-fried alligator (it was chewy). Of the three, the only one I became enamored with was escargot, and that’s probably because of the preparation in garlic butter. (Mmm. . .garlic butter.) Still, if chicken is available, why would I want to eat rattlesnake?

And then there are bugs. I have read many accounts on other travel blogs of bugs being sold as food in markets in southeast Asian countries. Some of these travel bloggers have eaten them, too. Dear God, WHY? I asked myself. WHY would you want to do that? I mean, okay, good for you for wanting to experience the local culture and try new things, but why does it have to be bugs???? Those posts are the stuff of my nightmares.

Escargot

Weird food I like: Snails

Like snakes and spiders, I have a phobic reaction to bugs. Not a crippling phobia that requires therapy or anything, but I have been known to scream like a little girl at the sight of a large, creepy bug. Or even a small, creepy bug if it startles me. Twice now, while at the Montreal Botanical Gardens I have tried to visit the Insectarium with friends, and twice I’ve had to leave and wait for them outside because I just couldn’t handle it. There are bugs out there, people, that are the size of kittens. It’s enough to make you faint four times over.

Last weekend I went on a Burlington Food Tour (about which you’ll be reading more later). I was having a good old time eating and drinking my way around Burlington. Then we came across the “Crickets Delight” booth at the Burlington Farmers Market. I couldn’t believe it. The bug-eating trend had made it to Vermont. Are Vermonters–who, let’s face it, are not the most adventurous people in the world–actually eating bugs? I wondered.

They will be if Ric Crossman, the owner of Crickets Delight, has his way. Ric was very friendly and told us some interesting facts about crickets—they’re low in calories and fat, and high in protein and calcium. He said he keeps his crickets in the basement and feeds them turkey feed. He dry roasts them and sometimes uses a coffee grinder to crush them into a protein powder that can then be sprinkled on foods. He pointed us toward an online article talking about how the human race will be forced to become vegetarian by 2050 due to a scarcity of water (much of which goes to cattle). We need to find protein sources that use less water, like, say bugs. Mm-hm.

Cricket Lollipops

Cricket Lollipops

The truth is, if you consider the idea of eating bugs as godawful as I do, guess what? We’re in the minority. Many cultures around the world have long been insect-eaters and continue to be. I suppose if that’s how you were raised, you wouldn’t think it was odd at all. Hence, all the bugs for sale in Asian food markets. And if you think about it, they are readily available in a way that many other protein sources aren’t. Not everyone can own a cow or a chicken, after all. But pretty much everyone can figure out how to catch bugs and cook them.

Did I try one of those crickets?

Well, I couldn’t very well let the opportunity pass, could I? One of the reasons I travel is to see new places and experience new things. Every once in awhile, the explorer in me makes me face my fears, whether at home or abroad. I am compelled to try things I never thought I would try.

Video proof:

As it turns out, dry roasted crickets are about the size and consistency of a rice krispy. (And they only have 6 legs, not 8–what a relief!) Still, I don’t think I’m ready to keep a bag of them on my nightstand for a midnight snack. Baby steps, people. Baby steps.

My cricket-eating escapade was brought to you by Burlington Food Tours, who provided me (and my friend) with a complimentary tour. They didn’t, however, force me to eat the cricket.

 

Melissa October 15, 2012 at 1:15 pm

You’re a braver woman than I. Recently in Korea I was faced with a dish of beondegi (boiled silkworm pupae) and I just couldn’t bring myself to try them. My friend said “yeah, they taste about how you’d expect them to taste” so that was my answer. Give me a random vegetable or fruit anyday and I’ll try it but I’m much more squeamish about my protein.

Gray October 15, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Just the idea of boiled silkworm pupae makes me want to throw up. I don’t blame you at all, Melissa.

Sabina October 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Cute video! I’ve never eaten a bug. Although I did eat some dry dog food once with my friend when I was a kid, to see what it tasted like. Tastes like crackers, as it turns out 🙂

Gray October 10, 2012 at 5:25 pm

LOL! That is so funny, Sabina! My brother and uncle once dared each other to eat dry dog food, too. I did not join them in that dare. Crackers, huh?

Mike October 9, 2012 at 8:18 am

I and my brothers are very brave to try these exotic food. When we were in the Philippines, we tried their exotic like “balot”, a boiled, fertilized egg. Then, try more exotic ones in the city center. You should try it!

Gray October 9, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Mike – I just went and looked up “balut”. Oh dear God, no. I couldn’t eat that. I just couldn’t. You have a stronger stomach than I do!

Mary October 8, 2012 at 2:08 am

I’ve never tried eating crickets. I think I would have done the same thing after being compelled. Congratulations!

Gray October 8, 2012 at 6:01 am

Thanks, Mary! You may have an opportunity before you know it, if this “crickets as food” trend catches on. 🙂

Christine | Grrrl Traveler October 4, 2012 at 4:52 am

wooot ! woot! You tried a cricket. Wasn’t bad right? Not that I’d make a feast of it, but it’s the fear factor… the visual aspect and fact that we see them as insects and not edible. When I put one in my mouth, I was visualizing the cricket and it’s legs as I chomped down. yech.

I will say as Americans we’re privileged to not feel food scarcity.

But see, like frog legs, I’d draw the line… escargot too. haha… But then everyone’s line is different. Tripe or goat’s blood, ewww. Some folk love that kinda thing. =-)

Congrats on the exploration!

Gray October 4, 2012 at 5:39 am

It’s definitely the psychological aspect more than anything, Christine. For sure. Americans are very privileged in many ways; too bad so many of us don’t see it. I ate frog’s legs when I was young. After having to cut up a frog in biology class, I doubt I’d ever knowingly eat them again. Again, it’s the psychological factor. Sometimes it’s best not to know what it is we’re eating.

Gray October 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm

I figured the taste couldn’t be too bad if other people eat them regularly, Addison. I was more concerned about the feeling of a bug in my mouth–and had a hard time ignoring the idea of what it was. A lot of times it’s the IDEA of a thing that grosses me out more than the thing itself. Does that make sense?

Jeff @ GoTravelzing October 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm

I do like to try local foods when I travel but would probably draw the line at eating bugs. Frying them or covering them in sugar does not make me want to eat them any more.

I did find a cricket the other day in my house…maybe I should have fried it up and covered it in chocolate sauce..

Nice video.

Gray October 3, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Ha ha, give it a try, Jeff! You never know. If you buried it in chocolate and left it in the fridge long enough, you’d probably forget it was a bug. 😉

Addison S. @ Visa Hunter October 3, 2012 at 11:50 am

The cuisine of country is a big draw for me when I travel and having visited 50+ countries I like to think that I have sampled a far share of weird and wonderful things. Eating crickets does seem bizarre, however, and I commend you for that. Sometimes we just have to go for it without worrying too much about the taste or consequence. Good or bad, we are guaranteed a memorable experience.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: