Monday, June 11, 2012

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Larva

     Given that field archaeologists dig in the dirt every day, we encounter earthworms and various larval forms of insects very frequently.  Given the occasional boredom at work, and the relative immaturity of our crew, it's not uncommon for us to toss worms at each other or dare each other to eat them.  One enterprising coworker of mine (Hi Gordie) made it a semi-regular event; in exchange for five dollars he would eat one of the whitish grubs we were constantly finding on an Iowa project (not sure what they mature into--grasshoppers?  Crickets?).  He couldn't cheat and just swallow them whole either--he had to chew them thoroughly.  When questioned he said they didn't taste strongly, mostly like dirt (a flavor we all were unavoidably familiar with, due to winds).
     Some years later, another coworker (Hi Hope/Johanna), ate earthworms on three separate occasions.  (I realize that earthworms are different, adult animals, and not insect larva, but they're both obviously "wormlike" and therefore roughly identical for the purposes of this post.)  For free, too--if she'd held out, we probably would have offered her some cash, but perhaps she wanted to retain her amateur status in case worm-eating ever becomes an Olympic event.  She rinsed them off, and chewed as well (I think), and reported that they tasted horrible.  The third time she only did it if I simultaneously ate two baby carrots (I'm renowned for my complete and utter hatred of these orange nightmares).  I still maintain I probably got the worst of that tradeoff.
     I was finally tempted myself when I had the opportunity to eat professionally prepared larva.  The fact that they wouldn't give me a disease, and were presumably made in a way to make them tastier were effective selling points to me.  I found these at a store called "Evolution" in New York City (more on that wonderful store in a later post).  They were prepackaged larva in a cheese powder.  Alas, the insect type was not specified.  They were smallish larva--about one half to three quarters of an inch long, off white, segmented, and hollow.  And they were awful--there were only about twenty of them, but I had a tough time finishing them.  It's possible that this might have been partially or totally due to the cheese powder they were in, but with my adoration of that dairy product  I think this is unlikely.  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, so given another chance (particularly if they're prepared differently), I'll try them again.  But I won't be picking one up at work and chowing down, unless I'm offered like twenty bucks or more.


  1. I did a field school in college. We found lots of strange insect larva but I never had to urge to eat any of them. :/ I guess you have to keep entertained somehow.

  2. OMG, this stacks right up with Uni on the sushi menu. You can try it and tell me how you like it, if you live.

  3. Yuckers. So glad I read that. Actually, I just dropped in to stalk you since Sharon put the word out.

  4. Alyson--maybe the heat was the reason we did that(or more likely, again, our lack of maturity).
    Smokingpigeon--As it turns out, I'm a major fan of sushi, and Uni (Sea Urchin) is my favorite. Granted, it looks like phlegm, and has a weird texture, but it's delicious.
    Cordelia--Thanks for dropping in, and it's very nice of Sharon to help me out.