Thursday, May 22, 2014

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Grasshoppers

     Yet again we return to the variety pack of insects I received from ThinkGeek.  Which, based on the number of blog posts I’ve gotten from it, was one of the best, most efficient food purchases I’ve ever made.  On the agenda today is a member of the Acrididae family—the grasshopper.
     First off, I was curious about the relationship between grasshoppers and locusts, if any.  It turns out that there’s quite a bit—locusts are grasshoppers which are going through a particular set of circumstances.  Due probably to overcrowding, scientists think, grasshoppers sometimes start to come together, breed like maniacs, and accumulate in huge groups.  They also tend to change color at this point.  And when I’m talking huge groups, I really, really, mean it.  Some of the largest swarms have covered hundreds of square miles, and are made up of billions of individual animals.  These swarms then often ravage the countryside, consuming basically every crop and plant in their path.  There’s a reason that ancient religious texts include accounts of locust plagues—they can be devastating.  Pesticides and even a fungi bioweapon help, but even up into the present day locust hordes are still nothing to laugh at.
     But humans can give as well as they can get.  Grasshoppers are not uncommon as a food source.  Folks in Mexico and Central America, parts of Africa, the Middle East, and China all enjoy chowing down on them.  In a variety of ways, too.  Grasshoppers are eaten raw, sun dried, boiled, fried, flavored with lime, chile peppers, onions, and garlic, and in soups.  Islamic and Jewish dietary laws forbid consumption of almost all insects, but they both make exceptions for grasshoppers, especially during periods of famine.
     Grasshoppers fare mostly poorly as characters in myths and folklore.  The fable of “The Ant and the Grasshopper” unfavorably compares the industrious former with the lazy latter.  Another story names unfaithful women as being “grasshoppers” in that they hop from man to man.  And in a less negative way, the character of Caine in “Kung Fu” was called “Grasshopper,” as he was a novice who needed to learn.
     Anyway, the grasshoppers I tried were advertised as being seasoned with bacon and cheeseburger flavor.  They were large for insects, being about 1.5 to 2 inches long, with a brownish green color.  Their texture was crunchy.  And the taste was mediocre.  Much better than the crickets (see February 13, 2014 post), but not especially great, either.  I tried different body parts of them, but it didn’t seem to make any difference.  The bacon cheeseburger flavoring was just a hint.  If they weren’t labeled as such, I might not have indentified it.  I didn’t have a problem finishing the ten or so grasshoppers, but they were just okay.  I wouldn’t have them in that format again.  But, I would be willing to try them prepared in another way, hopefully by pros in a restaurant.

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