This attractive booklet describes 85 recipes that incorporate insects as part of hors d’oeuvres, savories, soups, salads, vegetable dishes, entrés, desserts and candies, breads and pastries, or butters. They carry such enticing names as cricket crisps, cricket rumaki, sautéed bacon- pepper bees, chirping stuffed avocados, cricket pot pie, jumping melon salad, mealworm chow mein, chocolate chirpies, honey bee granola bars, and jumping jubilee (prepared over flaming brandy). The recipes center around the mealworm (a beetle larva, Tenebrio molitor) and the cricket (Acheta domesticus), both of which are commercially available, and the honey bee (Apis mellifera) which can be obtained from your nearest beekeeper friend. Commercial sources are given for mealworms, crickets and praying mantises, as well as instructions for home-rearing mealworms, crickets, bees, and wax moth larvae, among others. Also given are instructions for cleaning and preparing the insects. The last 10 pages of the book are given over to earthworm cookery.
According to the authors, the insects are unrecognizable as such in most of the recipes and guests would be unaware of their presence if not told. The authors say, “This of course, is not to advocate ‘tricking’ your guests. Rather, it simply emphasizes that objections to eating insects have little or nothing to do with their taste or food value. If there is a problem, it arises from what we bring to the insect rather than what the insect brings to us.” A section called “Basics” describes various ways of treating the insects before their application in the recipes. These basic preparations include “basic” cooked insects, dry roasted insects, basic insect flour, pastry, insect broth, insect marinade, garlic butter fried insects, and candied insects, as well as sauteed mushrooms and garlic butter which contain no insects.
Taylor and Carter not only offer 85 recipes, but they have created complete menus for practically every gastronomic occasion, to wit: the cocktail party for 30 and the more intimate party for six; the Bloody Mary brunch and the champagne brunch; the formal lunch and the California lunch; the French dinner and a hearty dinner; the late evening supper (for after the theater); and for such celebratory occasions as the Chinese New Year,
a Mardi Gras party; Birthday of Rome; Florentine Cricket Festival – a picnic; Indian Independence Day; and the Japanese Moon-Viewing Festival.
If insects do not soon gain a foothold in American cuisine, it will not be for lack of exciting recipes from which to choose Taylor and Carter say of their Insect Quiche: “This recipe suggests a whole new dimension in quiche cooking. We’re up front about the insects; they’re not camouflaged.” Of their Siu Mai: “A friend of ours describes [it] as bundles of gustatory excitement.”‘ Of their Cricket Pot Pie: “Don’t be surprised if this dish is picked up by the manufacturers of frozen foods.” Finally, of their Egg Foo Yung: “Disguised among the bean sprouts, you will find our addition of mealworms. This is an excellent dish to serve to those who would like to try insects but feel they ‘just couldn’t.’ . . . We regard this creation as our piece de résistance.”
One of the tastiest of insects, the greater wax moth larva, Galleria mellonella, was not featured in recipes because it was not commercially available at the time. Of this insect, Taylor and Carter say, “If only they were commercially available, we would probably have centered most of our recipes around them. They are our favorite insect. They are thin-skinned, tender, and succulent They would appear to lend themselves to commercial exploitation as snack items. When dropped into hot vegetable oil, the larvae immediately swell, elongate and then burst. The resulting product looks nothing like an insect, but rather like popcorn. Anyone who enjoys the flavor of potato chips, corn puffs, or the like would delight in the taste of fried wax moth larvae. We can imagine them fried as above, salted, packaged in cellophane, and displayed in the supermarket alongside the other snack items.”
There are now several commercial sources of live wax moth larvae: one whose product we have seen is Waxworms, Inc., P.O. Box 333, Cameron, Wisconsin, 54822, USA. In the reviewer’s experience, packaged mealworms, crickets and wax moth larvae from bait dealers and pet shops always bear the notation, “Not for human consumption.” This is undoubtedly intended to deter all but connoisseurs and to let the latter know that they indulge at their own risk.
SEE BOOKS, p. 4
EGG FOO YUNG
2 T vegetable oil; 1 medium green pepper chopped; I medium onion, chopped; 1/2 cup cooked mealworms, chopped (see below); 1 cup bean sprouts; 1 can (8 oz) water chestnuts, drained and thinly sliced; 3 T soy sauce; 5 eggs; soy sauce
In a frying pan, heat 1 T of vegetable oil. Add green pepper and onion and cook until tender. Stir in mealworms, bean sprouts water chestnuts, and soy sauce. Heat thoroughly and remove from heat. In a bowl, beat eggs until thick. Stir in insect mixture. In a frying pan containing 1 T of heated vegetable oil, pour enough of the mixture to form small patties. Brown on each side. Serve warm with soy sauce.
1 cup cleaned mealworms; 2 cups water; 1 t salt; 2 dashes pepper; 1 T butter; 1/2 t sage; 2 T onion, finely chopped.
Place ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.
(Reprinted by permission of R. L. Taylor, see booklet for accompanying hot soy sauce recipe)
Ronald L. Taylor and Barbara J. Carter. Woodbridge Press, Santa Barbara, California 93111. 1976. 160 pp. (Paperback, price originally $3.95; now out of print).