In Gray, the protagonist, Coral, is fighting to survive in a post-apocalyptic hellish landscape of what was formerly the United States. In order to prevent starvation, she has to eat whatever she can find. Including insects.
I don't know about you guys, but I've never eaten an insect in my life. Not on purpose anyway. I don't believe the gnat that flew into my mouth during a bike ride last summer actually counts. And the truth is, I'm not adventurous enough to walk into a restaurant and order deep-fried water bug (that's actually a thing). But, outside of my narrow world, eating insects is quite common. In fact, according to Spencer Michels of PBS Science, "80 percent of the world’s population eats insects as a regular part of their diet." This got me thinking: since eating insects is not something that is part of my daily life, and is not really a part of American culture in general, which insects are edible? And how are they consumed/cooked? So, down I went into the Google rabbit hole...
The following is a brief list of insects eaten in various parts of the world:
1. Water bug: Southeast Asia
This edible water bug is of a species of beetle called Lethocerus indicus. It can be deep-fried or used as an extract. In the Philippines, it is "sauteed or fried in oil, garlic, onions and tomatoes, or roasted, after the wings and legs have been removed, and eaten as a viand for steamed rice or as a finger food with liquor."
The water bug is a rich source of protein. It provides about 20 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce.
They have a briny and fruity flavor.
2. Leafcutter ants: South America
There are various types of ants consumed in various parts of the world. The honeypot ant, which is as sweet as the name suggests, is eaten raw as a treat by the aborigines of Australia. The red ant is sauteed, or added to salads, in Thailand. The leafcutter ant, shown in the image above, is roasted and eaten like popcorn in places like Colombia. In fact, they are served as snacks in movie theaters.
Ants are a great source of calcium and protein. Red ants specifically are also a great source of iron.
3. Tarantula: Cambodia and Venezuela
Tarantulas aren't insects, but I couldn't pass up adding them to this list. In certain parts of Venezuela, these guys are roasted. In Cambodia, they are fried in oil, sugar, salt, and sometimes garlic. They have a crab-like, nutty flavor.
They are a good source of protein.
4. Grasshopper: Mexico
In parts of Mexico, grasshoppers are roasted and mixed with chile and lime. In the image above, they are served in a soft taco. They have a salty and spicey flavor.
Grasshoppers are a great source of protein, containing 14-28 grams, and a great source of unsaturated fat. They also contain a small amount of iron.
5. Termites: West Africa, Australia, and parts of South America
Termites can be eaten raw, roasted, or fried. Oddly enough, they taste like carrots.
They are a great source of unsaturated fat.
6. Silkworm Pupa: Vietnam, China, Korea
In Korea, silkworms are seasoned and then boiled. In China and Vietnam they are fried. They have a briny flavor, similar to shrimp. They also have a chewy consistency.
Silkworms are low-fat, and a great source of calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
How about you guys? Have you eaten any of these dishes, or others like them? If not, and you come from a culture where this would not be routine, would you be more courageous than I am and give them a try?