Try our specials: cicadas!


For the adventurous: Cicadas are fried for a sushi recipe by Chef Bun Lai at Fort Totten Park in Washington DC. — AFP

THIS is definitely not for the squeamish. Or anyone who is turned off by the taste or texture of seafood.

Eating cicadas might sound like a competition you would see on Survivor, but Cortni Borgerson is not a reality TV contestant who is being forced to consume creepy-looking insects to win a reward.

The assistant professor of anthropology at Montclair State University says she actually enjoys eating cicadas. She even has a few recipes that include those crunchy critters as one of the main ingredients.

Flaming cicada fondue, anyone?

“They’re delicious, ” says Borgerson. Cicadas “will taste like shrimp. The taste and texture are very similar, but with a fresh spring twist to it... similar to if you’re eating fresh asparagus, spring arugula or parsley.”

A periodical cicada, a member of Brood X. Billions of these insects are emerging from the soil in the eastern United States and Midwest to molt, mate, lay eggs and die after living underground for 17 years.  — AFPA periodical cicada, a member of Brood X. Billions of these insects are emerging from the soil in the eastern United States and Midwest to molt, mate, lay eggs and die after living underground for 17 years. — AFP

As cicadas emerge once in a generation across a huge swath of the eastern United States, insect delicacies are finding their way to the dining tables of adventurous foodies.

The Brood X cicadas are part of a billions-strong insect swarm that has lain dormant for 17 years before arising from the ground and crawling up the trees to “scream” and mate.

With their abundance, the shrimp-sized, beady-eyed bugs with almost translucent wings are being prepared by professional chefs and at home in a variety of ways this year.

These intriguing insects also pack a high amount of protein and minerals. — ReutersThese intriguing insects also pack a high amount of protein and minerals. — Reuters

Their recipes are swarming social media and the Internet.

Cicadas can be added to “any of your favorite dishes, ” Borgerson notes. “They don’t need peeling or extensive prepping. Just pan fry them or parboil and toast them in the oven, and then use them like you would any of their crustacean relatives.

“Personally, I love them by themselves on toothpicks as an appetizer or in tacos, where you can use the toppings to bring out a lot of their green spring flavors.”

It’s not just the taste that draws folks like Borgerson to experiment with cicada recipes. These intriguing insects also pack a high amount of protein and minerals.

In addition, they are a sustainable food source – they don’t put a big drain on land, water or feed like more traditional food sources, such as cattle or other farm animals.

So, what prompted Borgerson to even think about tasting a cicada?

As part of her research on natural resource use, sustainability and food security, she has taken trips to overseas places where insects are among the delicacies served as a source of protein. She first sampled a cicada during a visit to Madagascar, off the southeast coast of Africa.

“I remember when I ate my first one, ” she says. “I was actually quite surprised that it was quite delightful.”

So how can you catch them?

If you see some cicadas, stand still and snap your fingers. Then you can just pick and pack them up. — AFPIf you see some cicadas, stand still and snap your fingers. Then you can just pick and pack them up. — AFP

If you see some cicadas, says Borgerson, who has a PhD in biological anthropology, stand still and snap your fingers. The snapping sound, she tells, will sound similar to female cicadas who flick their wings in an effort to attract a mate.

Cicadas (which don’t bite or sting) can then be picked up and placed in a plastic bag, taken home and stored in a freezer for future use. She recommends freezing the insects for about 30 minutes before preparing them for a dish.

A word of caution though: Borgerson says cicadas should not be served to anyone with a history of allergies to shellfish (as advised by the Food and Drug Administration too) or dust mites. – Tribune News Service

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