Insect-eating is the wave of the future, according to the ever-enterprising Boston Phoenix. For those of you tired of feasting on ramen and electric-orange mac and cheese, behold an economical (and plentiful!) dining solution: Bugs!
Sure, we've supped upon the occasional grasshopper taco during our friskier nights on the town, but we really had no idea that so many critters had so many culinary uses. The stinkbug, for instance, which Professor David Gracer describes as "bitter and herby ... a cross between kale and cilantro." (No, he hasn't done any restaurant criticism, but he did author a 2008 paper on bug-eating and once cooked bugs for Stephen Colbert. Move over, Ruth Reichl.) "Many people will embrace insect foods only when their usual food choices become problematic," Gracer insists. "We can do more than passively wait for this to happen." So, basically, we should begin inhaling bugs like they're going out of style.
Now, before you get all grossed out, think about the greater good for a moment. Insects are a more sustainable protein source than cows or pigs; as the Phoenix explains, they could alleviate world hunger and environmental woes. In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization now offers an edible insects website, which aims to be a clearinghouse for bug-food safety. (Wouldn't want overzealous bug-eaters to do silly things like fry bedbugs in duck fat.)
As for the woes possibly inflicted on your taste buds, have no fear. Actually, have a little bit of fear. While some cultures consider bugs a delicacy, American bug-eaters do admit that there's a certain ick factor. Proponents helpfully suggest grinding insects into patties or processing them into fish sticks, or (we love this!) referring to packaged crickets as "lawn prawns." At last, something to serve at our next croquet party.
The Phoenix's fearless scribe, Deirdre Fulton, describes a feast of stir-fried mealworms diplomatically enough, with words like "benign" and "vaguely nutty." Vaguely nutty, indeed! Though she made it through the experience alive, we're not going to add insects to our Thanksgiving menu quite yet. But for those who are so moved, the piece does include a series of detailed recipes.