Entomophagy - The Art of Eating Insects
Entomophagy is defined as the consumption of insects for food. Insects that were once thought of as “yucky” are now becoming elegant food. Slowly, but surely, they have made their way into gourmet restaurants. In fact, eating insects is not at all uncommon, especially in some parts of the world. It is estimated that 2.5 billion people around the world include insects in their diets, especially in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Mexico ranks high in the consumption of insects. Out of the 1,800 species of edible insects registered in the world, Mexico houses 549 of them. These insects are mainly eaten by indigenous families living in Oaxaca, Guerrero, Puebla, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala, Michoacán and Chiapas. It is not uncommon to find edible insects in Mexican markets, insects such as grasshoppers, ants and bugs. These insects are usually eaten barbequed or fried, with lemon and chile.
However, Mexico does not rank #1 in the consumption of edible insects. In Japan, even restaurants are including these edible insects in their menu. For example, it is not uncommon to see zaza-mushi (aquatic larvae) and hachi-no-ko (wasp larvae) listed in menus; in China, grasshoppers and beetles marinated in soy sauce and ginger; or in Indonesia, fried and salty dragon flies.
In Thailand there is even a restaurant dedicated to edible insects. Its name says it all: “Insect King”. In the capital, Bangkok, grocery markets sell different types of edible insects and arachnids, such as crickets, beetles, aquatic cockroaches, scorpions, and tarantulas.
Are Edible Insects Nutritious?
Yes, they are highly nutritious. Many of these edible insects contain more protein that chicken, meat and fish. For example, 100 grams of grasshoppers contain 62-77% protein, while the same amount of meat only contains 50-57%. Another benefit of edible insects is their high amount of raw fiber and lack of cholesterol, which makes them easier to digest. Among other advantages is the fact that edible insects can be stored for years without spoiling or losing their nutritional value.
Are Edible Insects Gourmet Food?
Because of their flavor, as well as their nutritional value, entomophagy has been winning the hearts of even the pickiest eaters, making these edible insects elegant food. Many restaurants are including in their recipes foods such as tempura crickets, caterpillar salad, pizzas with cockroaches and beetles as toppings, and caterpillars garnished with soy or ginger.
If this trend continues, maybe we won’t have to go to the supermarket anymore. We can just look out the window and grab the insect of our preference.