Eighty percent of the world’s countries include insects in their diet. Yes, even you, although it might be more by accident or ignorance than design!
Entomophagy is the ingestion of insects for food (deliberate as opposed to the odd bug that flies down your throat when you are riding a bicycle, I suppose).
For more incidental entomophagy, try this HuffPost article on some of the more common bugs that are allowed in your food. Or read this Insects As Food blog post for more on what bugs people eat on purpose. Bugs are also recommended as an alternative food source by the U.N. (although something tells me they weren’t serving crickets on a stick at the recent General Assembly in N.Y.)
So when one of the contestants at a recent Latino Lover magazine ceviche throwdown I attended offered crispy crickets as a ceviche topping, the girls from Puerto Rico – Ada, Jocelyn, Paola, and me — looked at each other for about a half-second and dug right in.
They were crunchy! They were salty! They were good!
They perfectly set off the watermelon in the ceviche and they were pretty good plain too, washed down with a fresh Albariño as per Paola and I…Ada and Jocelyn went for the beer instead. So yes, we ate crickets and liked them a whole lot (admittedly, we had to set aside the ones whose antennae/leggy bits were just too, well insect-y to actually put in our mouths).
So, what did I have for dinner on the eve of my birthday? Bugs! Hurray for an old dog being fearless about new tricks!
The winners of the contest were not at all the ones I liked…Toloache was tops for me…and yes, that was the one with the crickets and watermelon. Thanks to the girls for a great birthday…highlighted by running into my dear friend Maricel Presilla – restaurateur and food historian (see her books on chocolate and Latin food or visit her artisanal, pan-Latino Hoboken restaurants: Cucharamama and Zafra!).