The Mayans preferred their corn on the cob with an infestation of corn ear worms. The Balinese call dragonflies sky prawns. And in rural South Africa, mopane worms are such delicacies that during their harvests, worm burglars pose a constant threat.
If properly prepared, would filet of fly taste as good as filet mignon?
Tonight and tomorrow, David George Gordon, author of The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook (Ten Speed Press), will be at the Museum of Science & History to show us exactly what we have been missing. Tonight, he will be head chef for "X-Cuisine," a benefit that offers an opportunity to sample wines and exotic foods such as kangaroo, emu, scorpion scaloppine, orthop teran orzo, grasshopper kabobs and white chocolate and waxworm cookies.
Tomorrow, during "Bake-a-Bug," at 10:30 a.m. and 12:30, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m., he will present "From Soup to Gnats: The Essentials of Bug-Cookery." Guests can learn to cook, as well as eat, flying, crawling fare.
Weight Watchers and Dr. Atkins diet enthusiasts would approve.
"It's low fat," Gordon said from his home in Port Town send, Wash. "A cup of crickets is 250 calories but only 6 grams of fat. There's a lot of roughage, too."
Gordon paused. "We're also talking small portions."
You bet. No eager beavers for seconds either, right?
Actually, sometimes there are.
"Usually when I do a program, there are three kinds of people," he said. "The ones who say, 'I'll try anything once,' the ones who say, 'No way,' and a third group who have driven some distance for the opportunity to eat bugs. Kids are really open-minded about this whole topic, and most want to know where you can get things like scorpions to try."
You'll find resource lists in the back of his cookbook. Also, as the MOSH staff members shopping for the two-day bugarama have discovered, the Internet is a veritable supermarket of food oddities.
Food preferences begin with cultural biases, and as a culture, we've pretty much disassociated ourselves from the reality of what we eat, Gordon said.
"Only seldom do we eat a whole animal. Usually, it's only a tiny part that comes wrapped in Saran Wrap on a Styrofoam plate. …