1. The Atlanta Hawks Concessions Now Feature Cajun Cricket Tacos
Atlanta's NBA team, the Hawks, have made a head-turning addition to their concession stands this season. Along with the standard gameday foods, one stand will now be offering cricket tacos. The crickets are supplied by Texas company Aketta, who provide flavors such as Texas BBQ and Sweet-n-Spicy Cajun. The tacos are three for $12, and include sliced avocado, onion, queso fresco, cilantro, and Cajun-spiced crickets. The Hawks hope to be the first sports team to serve crickets at their games, though the Mariners are already serving toasted grasshoppers.
2. At The Audubon Insectarium In New Orleans, Bugs Are A Sweet Treat
New Orleans boasts the largest free-standing insectarium in the country, so it isn't surprising that they've come up with some pretty innovative ideas to get guests even closer to the bugs. At their Bug Appetit cafe, insects are baked into cookies (chocolate "chirp," with crickets), folded into fudge, and placed on skewers to be dipped into a chocolate fountain. The cafe is a huge hit with kids, since it turns once-icky bugs into sweet treats.
3. A Cafe In Cambodia Is Creating Incredibly Unique Bug Tapas, Like the "Bug Mac" Burger
Walk through the night markets in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and you'll see vendors with carts of fried tarantulas and scorpions on sticks, frogs, and piles of crickets. You'll also see a sign that says photos of the cart cost up to $1, since many curious tourists would rather gawk than buy anything.
Many visitors know that bugs are a traditional food in Cambodia, but are scared to try them. Thankfully, Bugs Cafe (just down the street from the markets) has solved that problem- the little Western-style restaurant offers a menu of tapas that feature local creepy crawlers, presented in a way that appeals to tourists.
There are spring rolls with red ants inside, a "Bug Mac" burger, even sweet potato soup with honey bee larvae. Their unique twists on traditional Cambodian snacks really give tourists a "local" experience, and one that is less intimidating than a fried bug on the side of the road.
4. Ant Eggs Make A Delicious Caviar
In Mexico, ant are delicately collected and turned into a delicacy known as "ant caviar." The large, white eggs are cleaned and added to a frying pan with onions, garlic, peppers, and some herbs to gently cook. The mixture is served with lemon, guacamole, and warm tortillas to create a truly Mexican dish. The flavor is described as delicious and fresh, and similar to a "fresh vegetable."
5. Spice Up Your GORP With Some Chapulines
Granola, nuts, M&Ms and dried fruits are classic staples in most trail mixes, but some companies are now shaking up tradition by adding chapulines. Chapulines are dried grasshoppers, a staple snack in many parts of Mexico. Edible Insects is a company selling sweet and spicy GORP that includes organic dark chocolate chips, wasabi beans, organic tamari roasted sunflower seeds, crystallized ginger, dried strawberries, and Sazanados Chapulines.
6. Cricket Flour Is Taking The World By Storm
The culinary industry has seen its fair share of trendy new ways of replacing traditional ingredients. The latest craze is cricket flour. The flour consists of crickets that have been dried and sent through two rounds of grinding: after the first coarse grind, legs, wings, and other bits are sifted out. If you don't want to grind your own, of course, cricket flour is available online as well.
The resulting powder can be used to make all kinds of baked goods like cake and muffins. The flavor supposedly varies depending on the diet and type of the crickets used, with different producers favoring different species. For people who have dietary restrictions (like gluten), cricket flour can serve as a protein-packed alternative.
7. A Portland Ice Cream Shop Is Trying To Revolutionize "Creepy Crawlies"
Portland ice cream staple Salt & Straw is a shop that wants to use ice cream as a vehicle for experimenting with and incorporating all kinds of unusual ingredients. Having now expanded to other west coast locations including San Francisco and Los Angeles, the shop boasts a variety of regular flavors like lavender and olive oil, but also produces five specialty flavors that change every month and for which they use a variety of bizarre ingredients including blood pudding, turkey with gravy, and fish. But the regular recurring October flavor has become a hit: Creepy Crawly Critters. Loaded with grasshoppers and ants crystallized in sugar, it's one of the shop's bizarre flavors that has made an appearance more years than one. Apparently "bug-laced" ice cream has found its audience.
8. Cockroaches May One Day Provide Us With A Milky Superfood
Scientists have been conducting some very interesting research with a species of roach called the Pacific Beetle Cockroach. This species is very different to other roaches because it carries live babies (instead of laying eggs) and provides them with a cockroach version of milk. The "milk" turns to crystals in the embryos' stomachs, which scientists have been extracting and studying. They've found that the material is a protein-packed food source, which may someday be beneficial for humans. For now, they are focusing on reverse-bioengineering the milky substance, since extracting particles from the stomachs of cockroach embryos isn't efficient for mass production. But, researcher Leonard Chavas thinks an ice cream flavor could be in the works someday.
9. A Montana Professor Is Getting Creative To Introduce Students To Bug Dishes
Dr. Florence Dunkel is an entomologist at Montana State University, and she's on a mission. She teaches students in her Insects and Human Society that bugs and creepy crawlers can actually be quite tasty, and will probably be the protein of the future.
One of her signature dishes is the charmingly named "Land Shrimp Cocktail." It features wax worms, which are commonly used as a food source around the world, accompanied by a cocktail sauce made by her husband. Students are usually somewhat hesitant to taste the bug foods at first, but quickly see that they're not so bad.
10. A Chef In Brazil Is Exquisitely Covering Ants In Gold
Chef Alex Atala is all about getting back to the roots of Brazilian cooking. Atala, featured on the Netflix show Chef's Table, incorporates ants into several dishes at his São Paulo restaurant, D.O.M. He has one dessert where a single raw ant sits atop a piece of pineapple, but the real show-stopper is the gold ant on a piece of coconut meringue. The large Amazonian ants are covered in gold, elevating their status from a protein source once only utilized by the poor to a piece of art worthy of a fine dining establishment. The ants are a traditional food source in the Amazonas region of Brasil (they taste a lot like ginger), and Chef Atala is happy to be bringing them back into the spotlight.
11. In Vietnam, Live Coconut Worms Make For A Slippery And Squirmy Snack
There is plenty of fabulous street food in Vietnam, but one dish that tourists might get hung up on is the coconut worm. Served in a bowl of fish sauce and chilies, the worms are very much alive. They squirm and wiggle around the bowl, and are large enough to be easily off-putting. However, once you manage to get one in your mouth (avoiding the worm's head since they can bite you), the little guys are apparently really tasty.
Tasting notes from brave Vietnam explorer The Food Ranger: "Extremely spicy and salty and it pops in your mouth like a balloon. Slight earthy river flavor."