Ever watch those reality shows like Survivor, Fear Factor, and even I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here and think “there is no way I could eat those bugs and worms”?
Well, look out Sanjaya, because I ate 3 crickets, 1 wax worm, and 3 meal worms, not to mention some cricket artichoke dip and mango waxworm chutney!
See, I follow @AudubonZoo on Twitter. I also go home to New Orleans several times a month to see my mom and grandmother (aka “Gogi”). There had been a ton of tweets about people eating bugs at the Audubon Institute’s newest gift to New Orleans, The Audubon Insectarium. I grew up going to the Audubon Zoo, and my name is on a brick outside the Aquarium of the Americas, so I wanted to complete the trifecta (not to mention I can’t resist a challenge; I HAD to eat a bug).
So on my most recent visit to MSY, I talked my mom and Gogi in to taking a little field trip to what we thought would be something “for kids”; and it was. The thing is, the age of kids that the Insectarium appeals to is not specified, so everyone from age one to a 100 will have a great experience at this place.
There are exhibits on beetles and bees; worms and butterflies; and a fantastic interactive exhibit on the pride of New Orleans: cockroaches. There was a lot to look at and do, but my favorite attraction was in the back of the Tiny Termite Café, where local chefs whip up recipes so that we can practice entomophagy (eating bugs).
I had a cinnamon cricket, two cajun crickets, a taco-flavored wax worm, some mango waxworm chutney and, the piece de resistance, mealworm salsa (my bite had THREE worms!). As you can see, Gogi thought I was crazy.
Everything was actually tasty and not gross at all…except the mealworm salsa. Let’s put it this way, if you have “texture” issues with food, do not try the mealworms. I did it once, and that is all I have to say about dining on mealworms. The crickets and waxworms, however, were sort of like eating flavored sunflower seeds.
Sadly, the chocolate chirp cookies (yep, crickets) were still in the oven; we’ll have to wait until our next visit to try those (although I do have the recipe!)
Don’t be grossed out. In some places, bugs and worms are a staple in the local diet, as they are a good and readily available source of protein, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. There are some rules that you should follow if you want to cook and eat bugs in your own kitchen, just to be safe, but eating the little creatures—especially at the Insectarium– is perfectly fine (and really FUN!) for us all.