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Are Bugs the Future Gourmet Dish?

Most people cringe at the thought of eating bugs but some love dishes made with shrimp, prawns, lobster, and crawfish. Well guess what gourmets—shrimp and lobster are related to cockroaches; they’re all a part of the phylum Arthropoda: invertebrate animals which have jointed appendages, segmented bodies, and exoskeletons. I’ve even heard lobster and shrimp referred to as cockroaches of the sea.

It just goes to show that gourmet food can be whatever we say it is. And let’s face it, people will eat anything. So why should we be surprised when Berkeley’s Megan Miller of Bitty Foods can’t keep enough cricket flour in stock to satisfy demand? And across the bay, Megan’s cricket flour is served up in a corn dish called chompalinas at San Francisco’s pricey La Urbana.

While San Franciscans can be awfully food snooty, they don’t hold a citronella candle to the French where eating insects is not only a sign of a gourmand but also shows a commitment to the environment. In the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, French gastronomes at Le Festin Nu are dining on “The Naked Meal.” And before you say “ooh-la-la” you should know that the fully clothed patrons are supping on red palm weevil with truffle oil, worms with feta cheese and beetroot, and water scorpions with peppers and black garlic. The French press, which loves anything with the word “naked” is in love with the concept of The Naked Meal. Articles point out that fish are going extinct and meat production consumes fresh water and adds to global warming. Not so worms, crickets, cockroaches, and grasshoppers.

Le Festin Nu’s chef, Eli Daviron, says grasshopper tastes just like crunchy seafood or dried fruits. And if you travel to Nice, don’t forget to stop in the Aphrodite where you can order Bavarian cream with peas and carrots topped with worms or fried crickets in buckwheat. So if you’re wondering if bugs are the future of gourmet dining, they’re not. Grass-whoppers are already on the menu and you don’t have to wait until the 2050s to try ‘em. Bon appétit!

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