Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Go Eat Worms

Did you read Samantha Storey's blog entry in yesterday's New York Times "Diner's Journal," about how to cook mealworms, wax moth larvae ("an excellent addition to trail mix), and brown house crickets?
Mealworms, which feed on grain meal, are the larvae of a beetle. They are about an inch or so long. Not to be confused with flour beetle larvae or grain moths which can infiltrate your pantry. They tend to absorb the flavors in which they are being cooked, so if you sautée them in butter, they will taste buttery. They also tend to taste like the food in which they have been raised; worms raised on wheat flour taste like bread. If you don’t want them to have the taste of what they’ve been eating, let them go without food for 24 hours and “then you have an empty-gutted meal worm,” Mr. Turpin said. “Perfect for soaking up flavors.” On a low flame with hot oil it takes about two to three minutes to cook them. And one last tip from Mr. Turpin: “Eat them head first or tail first, though I have found that the best way to eat them, especially those trying them for the first time, is with one hand over their eyes.”
Ugh, and how about some general anesthesia, too? This is not for me; I've only recently gotten over my insect associations concerning shrimp. I try to be adventurous when it comes to sampling new things, but I draw the line at bugs, eyes, and stuff like sheep testicles. (And I reportedly loved pigs' feet when I was a toddler, so I consider myself beyond those, too.)

What worries me is the unquestionable legitimacy the New York Times has just bestowed upon eating bugs. Now that I'm a "faculty wife" (not a joke, although it's hilarious to me) and all sorts of academic people Want to Meet Us, I know I'll find myself sitting at some convivial professor's dinner table and helping myself to the latest in cuisine, perhaps Mealworms Munière or Cricket Crème Brûlée.

The Times only provides recipes, thank god, for Basic Cooked Insects and Dry-Roasted Insects:
Spread cleaned insects on paper towels on a cookie sheet. Back at 200 degrees for 60 to 90 minutes until desired state of dryness is reached. To check state of dryness, try crushing insect with a spoon.
The post also helpfully provides two sources for the bugs, in California (surprise!) and Louisiana. There's no hope; smart cooks will figure things out and get creative. You and I will not be able to avoid heaping bugs on our dinner-party plates, I just know it. Mealworms will absorb the flavors of anything they are cooked with, so you'll be chowing them down before you know what happened — unless you're the type that demands to know every single ingredient in the foods you're served. I may be about to become that type.

Thanks a lot, Samantha! Eating in strangers' houses is about to get a whole lot stranger because of you!

1 comment:

Dave Daniels said...

Ack, I'll pass on that. NOT a treat on my list of things to make. (I'm still recovering from finding bugs in a new bag of flour I got in the North End to make pasta.)
Have a great weekend, it's going to be NICE weather.