Adventure #1: Snacking on Crickets

Sage, Daegan and I all finish our day’s work early, grab a quick lunch and catch the bus. I’m off to try something I’ve never done before: eating insects. Lately insects, particularly crickets, have been hailed as a promising new protein – easy to produce, low impact, and tasty. We’ll see how it pans out.

Sage has done some searching to see where we should go for this experience. There is a high end Mexican restaurant that will put crickets in the guacamole, another Colombian restaurant that is open only on certain days, and a fancy market in a posh neighbourhood. This neighbourhood isn’t far so we elect to go there.

As we ride, we talk about our feelings about trying insects. Daegan is by far the least squeamish. When he was 6 years old or so, he asked his grandmother what crickets taste like. She suggested he try to find out and so he caught and ate one. He said it wasn’t bad. Later he tried another at the Ontario Science Centre’s “Grossology” exhibit. It wasn’t particularly memorable as good or bad.

I’m also fine with eating them. People eat arthropods all the time. Shrimp and lobster are extremely expensive creepy crawly creatures in the same phylum as crickets. I can’t feel creepy about eating crickets if I feel OK with a prawn cocktail. I also don’t have a lot of squeamishness about eating different things in general. When we lived in the country, people often ate whatever they could catch to make ends meet. Our neighbour would hunt anything that was legal to hunt and use it to feed his family. This means his freezer was filled with rabbit, wild turkey, deer, and even squirrel. One night he brought over fried squirrel for me to try. Even if I were uncomfortable, politeness would have had to override it and I tried some. It tasted very much like fried chicken – a little gamier like dark meat.

The bus drops us off in a wealthy residential neighbourhood. There are houses here that are so big that at first they look like small apartment buildings – except there’s only space for 1-2 cars out in front.

We need to walk about 15 minutes from where the bus lets us off to a small business district. There is only a cleaner’s, a bakery, an Italian cafe, a gallery and the Summerhill Market, a high end grocery store.

We wander through the place searching for the cricket section. It really is quite pleasant and fancy. There are lots of wonderful looking, albeit pricey things to choose from: $10 boxes of cereal and $20 pies in the freezer, unmarked so you can cook them at home and everyone will think that you made it from scratch. If I shopped here my clothes would always be dirty – a small bottle of laundry soap costs $21.99.

Daegan and I wander aimlessly but Sage finally finds the spot. There is a small shelf hidden away with cricket products.

On the shelf are three different kinds of energy bars with cricket protein powder, two kinds of crackers (olive and chili), plain roasted crickets, and cricket powder. We make a few choices and finish our shopping.

We check out. The three things we bought: olive crackers, a chilli/chocolate energy bar, and some plain roasted crickets, come to about $20. This is a little bit of a pricey thing to just try. We hope we like it.

We start from what we think will be the least challenging: the energy bar.

This is OK. It’s quite fudgy and chocolaty but with a bit of a strong perfumey flavour. I’m not sure what it is. It isn’t awful but it isn’t bad either. I would eat a whole one of these for sure. But we’ve got bigger and better things to try.

We move on to the olive flavoured cricket crackers.

At first I’m a bit put off. Are those things insect parts? But no, they’re flax seeds. It’s OK. Daegan and I take a bite. There’s onion, pepper, garlic and rosemary in these along with olives. It starts off tasting like stuffing. It’s a Thanksgiving cracker! But then something starts sneaking in. It’s a bit like soap. All three of us notice this at the same time and we’re not pleased at all.

Finally we move on to the most adventurous part. We’re going to eat roasted crickets. Daegan and I try these but this is too adventurous for Sage. I mean look at them. The energy bar looks like a chocolate bar, the crackers like a seed cracker just waiting for a slice of cheese. But these? These definitely look like bugs.

Daegan and I dive right in. After all, we’ve read about them. What I’ve read is that they taste like nuts or popcorn. I’ve also read that they taste like what you feed them so if you feed them mint leaves you can have minty crickets. If you feed them chillies you can have spicy crickets.

That may be the case, but if it is, these guys have been fed Dawn dish liquid. That soapy taste is there to the extreme now. Foolishly I keep eating them for a bit, waiting for them to taste like popcorn or salted cashews. It doesn’t happen, though.

The taste is so bad for us that he and I go back and finish some of the chocolate energy bar. It isn’t great but it masks the taste. We walk two doors down and buy a couple of espressos at the Italian cafe and overpower the taste.

The experience itself is a blast, though. We laugh and enjoy ourselves. We shared it via Instagram Live as well – our first time going live ever. You can see the video from that below.

Have an idea for an adventure? Let Sage know with the form below and she’ll take me on a surprise adventure to do something I’ve never done.

28 thoughts on “Adventure #1: Snacking on Crickets

    1. It also occurred to me: what if it were a situation like some people experience with cilantro? We don’t have that problem with cilantro but this was really noticeable. So perhaps our families genes are not predisposed to eating crickets.

    1. I know in some countries it’s a pretty common street food. I’d try it again there if they made it as I’ve seen it done on TV – lots of chillies and garlic.

      If I have the chance to try chinti ki chatni next time I’m in Chhattisgarh I’d give that a try as well. This experiment is not over, I guess πŸ™‚

  1. You could try some Australian vegemite. But eat it the right way. Toast bread. Add layer of butter, not margarine. Then apply vegemite in (this is important) a very thin layer. Barely on. If it is thickly applied you will hate it. That’s the challenge.

    1. I quite like vegemite – I had it when I met up with an Australian man who married a Quebecoise woman on a bike trip in Quebec. It was good but in the vegemite / marmite battle I fall solidly on the marmite side.

      Apropos of nothing – have you started watching Masterchef Australia? We have been hooked for years and are excited to see it back again.

      1. Oh cool! I didn’t know there was an NZ Bake Off – I’ll have to go searching for that one.

    1. It was fun! I haven’t ruled out eating bugs again but there needs to be far better seasoning. Maybe I can find some chinti ki chatni next time I am in Chhattisgarh. Aside from what it is made from its flavour sounds really good.

    1. Thanks! Though by all accounts they shouldn’t have tasted as bad as they did.

      And of course as a cyclist I’ve eaten a few insects before – cycling with my mouth open. This was just the first time I *intentionally* did it.

  2. as a vegetarian it’s not a good feeling that you can munch away on so many little critters who gave their life for you to have fun with!
    On the other side before becoming a veggo I have eaten them in Asian marketplaces and don’t remember a soapy taste at all. Crunchy but not good or bad. The birds here crunch on my live crickets daily and they are as long as your palm … so seems like you tried some babies to me …

    1. Right – no doubt there are other varieties also. Certainly where I grew up there were at least two and both were quite a bit bigger than these.

  3. Highly adventurous of you.
    My mind block would have never let me do that πŸ˜€
    Though its true that we eat arthropods all the time, prawns and shrimps but the thought of insects and the creepy feeling associated with them – no I can’t πŸ˜€
    In my part of India, insect eating is quite a delicacy among the native people here. Some even have the huge log like caterpillar found in the pine trees.

    1. Really weird. I wonder if it’s just how we experienced them – the way some folks think cilantro tastes soapy. It was so unpleasant I couldn’t imagine anyone liking it.

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