Research from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization shows that bugs are excellent sources of protein and healthier for you and the environment than steak or pork. Eating these many-legged critters is promoted by many organizations, including the European Commission, who are offering 4.5 million dollars to the group that creates the best plan to develop bugs as a popular food. Even actress turned UN Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie, says that her children “eat crickets like Doritos.”
If the idea of eating bugs makes you squeamish, turn away, because here’s our round-up of commonly eaten bugs, spiders, and insects around the world!
Consumed in: Southeast Asia
Taste Profile: Believe it or not, these plump, yellow and cream colored sago palm weevil larvae have a taste frequently likened to bacon! In some regions, they’re considered a delicacy for special occasions. They are usually roasted, but they can also be eaten raw. If raw, remove the head prior to consumption, as sago worms have sharp pincers and a tendency to bite.
Consumed in: China
Taste Profile: Scorpions can be consumed fried, roasted, grilled on a stick, or live. Their taste is reportedly fairly bitter and vaguely fishy. If you’re concerned about the venom, the heat used to cook scorpions renders it essentially harmless. Live scorpions are usually eaten with their stingers clipped off and dunked in some kind of wine.
Consumed in: Cambodia, Venezuela
Taste Profile: Tarantulas are usually cooked and eaten whole: legs, eyes, body, and all. Many people report the taste to be very similar to fried soft-shell crab or shrimp, with a crunchy exterior and somewhat chewy meat. Others claim the taste is more like poultry, with the legs tasting like sparse chicken wings and the body tasting of cold duck.
Consumed in: Mexico, Thailand, Cambodia
Taste Profile: Crickets are usually prepared fried, but they can be boiled, sauteed, and roasted. Freshly fried crickets are crispy, and tend to taste like the oil they were cooked in. Some liken the taste and texture of crickets to popcorn or nuts. Many cricket-eaters also recommend removing the legs before consuming.
Consumed in: The Amazon Rainforest
Taste Profile: Lemon ants have an extremely acidic body composition and evolved symbiotically with their host trees; clearings with only a single tree in it are likely to contain lemon ants. Eaten raw, these ants are said to have a crunchy texture, and a tangy lemon flavor.
Consumed in: All over the world!
Taste Profile: These beetle larvae can be fried, sauteed, boiled, and roasted. They are said to have an extremely mild flavor, which is to say they don’t actually taste like much. Raw, sauteed, or boiled, they are soft and slightly mushy. When fried, they take on the flavor of the oil. Roasted mealworms are slightly crunchy and nutty.
Consumed in: Thailand and other parts of Asia
Taste Profile: Water bugs are actually quite popular in Thai cuisine, often consumed whole, steamed or fried; they are also frequently as extracts for various sauces. Their scent is stunningly reminiscent of sweet, flowery fruits, and their taste is said to be very close to a salted, briny banana or melon.
Consumed in: China, Malaysia, Latin America
Taste Profile: The general consensus appears to be that cicadas have a slight nuttiness reminiscent of almonds or peanut butter, with an asparagus-like aftertaste; others claim that cicadas taste closer to a raw potato drizzled with clam juice. These descriptions are also indicative of its texture: slightly crunchy and juicy.
Photo Credits: Liyin the Designer in Pajamas, How Stuff Works, Science Buzz, Cicada Invasion, Flick River, Helablog, Inquiring Chef, Travel Blog, and Wine and Food Tube, World Must Be Crazy