French pasta maker is bitten by the cricket bug


  • Food News
  • Friday, 04 Mar 2016

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SANDRINE ISSARTEL A picture taken on February 8, 2016 in Thiefosse, eastern France shows packages of pastas made with flour of insects (locusts or crickets)by the factory "L'Atelier a pates" ("The pasta shop"). The factory created in 2012 produces four different types of pasta all made with spelt flour : locusts, crickets, locusts and crickets, or locust and cep. / AFP / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN

An artisanal pasta-maker in northeastern France is struggling to meet demand after adding a crunchy, protein-rich ingredient to the noodles insects.

"The name of the ingredient may be a turnoff, but it's really delicious, especially with game meat," smiles Alain Limon as he spreads cricket-flavoured fusilli on a drying rack.

Limon, 52, is the only employee at the Atelier a Pates (Pasta Workshop) in Thiefosse, north-eastern France.

His boss Stephanie Richard began her homemade pasta business in 2012, and is now hiring again thanks to the success of her latest creations made from insect flour.

"The insect is the protein of the future," Richard says. "It's protein of high quality that is well digested by the body."

In fact, a 2013 by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) noted the "huge potential" of insects, for feeding not only people but also livestock.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SANDRINE ISSARTEL A picture taken on February 8, 2016 in Thiefosse, eastern France shows shows locusts used to make a special insects flour to make pasta by the factory
Picking through the crickets that will be used for the pasta.

Insects are already a common food in many developing countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Oceania.

Some European cheeses also contain or use insects, like France's mimolette, whose grey crust is the result of cheese mites intentionally introduced to add flavour, or the Sardinian casu marzu, which contains live insect larvae.

'Kind of nutty'

For Richard's unique pastas, she uses pulverised crickets and grasshoppers, sometimes mixing the two, and sometimes mixing ground cepes with cricket flour.

"There's a kind of nutty taste thanks to the cepes, making it taste more like whole wheat pasta," Richard says.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SANDRINE ISSARTEL Director of the factory
Stephanie Richard holds two pasta packages made with spelt flour and insects flour. The factory produces four different types of pasta all made with spelt flour: locusts, crickets, locusts and crickets, or locust and cep.

She was developing a high-protein pasta for athletes when an insect distributor in eastern Lyon contacted her.

Sold on the idea, she began producing pasta made from insect flour in time for the December holidays, and around 500 packages flew off her shelves.

"The product piqued the curiosity and had great success," says Richard, who is also a part-time French teacher.

Whole eggs are added to a mixture of 7% insect flour to 93% organic spelt wheat flour, producing a brownish pasta that is shaped into radiatori, fusilli, spaghetti and penne.

An employee of the factory L'Atelier a pates (The pasta shop) makes a special pasta made with flour of insects (locusts or crickets) in Thiefosse, eastern France.
An employee of the factory L'Atelier a pates (The pasta shop) with the cricket flour pasta.

At first Richard made plain fresh egg pasta before diversifying her production while keeping it strictly within the culinary traditions of the Lorraine region, using wild garlic, nettles and safran, for example.

All of her ingredients were from Lorraine except durum semolina, which Richard says is incompatible with the climate.

Four years on with the addition of insect flour to the mix, "it's working so well that we will soon be able to hire a second person," Richard says, proud of her weekly production now at some 400kg.

And she does not plan to stop there she is working on a new recipe using Maroilles cheese from northern France, and plans to start making stuffed pastas.

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY SANDRINE ISSARTEL A picture taken on February 8, 2016 in Thiefosse, eastern France shows packages of pastas made with flour of insects (locusts or crickets)by the factory
Packages of the special pasta at the L'Atelier a pates.

At a little over €6 (RM27.25) for a 250g package, insect flour pastas are more expensive than standard kinds, but Richard notes that they can replace meat for vegetarians – or for people who prefer crickets.

"People with iron or magnesium deficiencies will also eat these products," she says. – AFP Relaxnews


Fancy making your own cricket pasta? Watch this video:


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