Deep inside of Sainsbury’s Locals across the country, a revolution is
stirring, creeping and crawling its way into the public eye: the insect
revolution. That’s right. Thanks to start-up Eat Grub, for the first time in my young life, I can walk down the street and purchase a bag of roasted crickets like it’s the most natural thing in the world (which, on some
level, it is).
We all know the spiel: insects are the future of protein.
Firstly, they are highly nutritious, containing roughly three times as much
protein per gram as beef. Secondly, the environmental impact of rearing insects does not compare to that of farming mammals and birds. Cows, for example, need copious amounts of feed and water to survive. Producing a kilogram of insect protein requires only one twenty-two-thousandth of the amount of water that producing a kilogram of cow protein does. Now you can protect your gains and your planet at the same time.
But do crickets taste good? The short answer is: yes.
The most direct comparison is to crisps or pork scratchings. There is no pronounced ‘crickety’ flavour to be reckoned with and, in a blind taste test, my guess is that you would happily chow them down. The crickets provide a crunchy base which goes well with standard crisp seasonings. Eat Grub’s ‘Smoky BBQ’ bugs live up to their billing and are given a slight sweetness by
the granules of brown sugar mixed into the packet. ‘Peri-Peri’ and ‘Sweet Chili & Lime’ are also available as flavours.
What is distinctive about crickets is the pleasant flakiness that comes from the skin of the insects and the slightly powdery consistency of their roasted bodies. Neither of these features detracts from the experience of eating them. If anything, they create a richer textural landscape for the seasonings to interact with. However, the downside of this flakiness is the absence of structural integrity. Be ready for some crumbly crickets.
To reiterate, there’s not much to be afraid of here. Sure, the eyes on the critters will make you think twice, but by the end of the bag, any initial revulsion will likely have been overcome. And the good news is, roasted crickets are just the start. Once we Westerners unshackle ourselves from our psychological reservations, we will gain access to new worlds of food. We will see our planet and its culinary offerings in a fresh light. From the aphrodisiacal fried hornets of Japan to the crunchy termite snacks of sub-Saharan Africa, the potential rewards are too great, too interesting, to pass up on.
Alexander Woollcott once lamented: ‘everything I like is either immoral, expensive, or fattening’. I guess the poor guy never found out how good crickets taste.