Wednesday, February 26, 2014

4. Eat Bugs

When we were both in our early twenties, my sister Katrinka had a college professor, Ben Parker, who she used to run around quoting.  Her favorite Ben Parker quote has become one of my favorites as well.  "Do we know what we like, or do we like what we know?" I thought about that quote a good bit in the last couple weeks leading up to this New Thing -- eating bugs. For me, the bug dinner was exactly why I decided to embark on a second year of new things; to make myself stretch a little, consider options I ordinarily wouldn't, and to think about why I automatically put some things in the "no" pile for no logical reason.  And now that I've eaten bugs -- crickets, mealworms and silkworm pupae, actually -- I'm more convinced than ever that the answer to Ben Parker's question is that we like what we know.  I also think that's kind of a limiting way to live life.

Jacquelyn from Nutty Steph's offering mealworm truffles to Mark and Kate

Bugs, after all, are just another form of animal protein.  You can grind them up and mix them in things the way you would flour, or leave them in a more whole form and roast or fry them.  As animal protein goes, they're very low fat, and can be produced in far more sustainable, ethical ways than larger animals.  Bugs raising and harvesting doesn't subject them to the evils of factory farming.  Bugs naturally live in very close proximity to each other, and go into a form of hibernation when it's cold, so they can be put to sleep as they naturally would be in the winter, but just don't wake up.  No terrors of confinement and slaughterhouses, no need for antibiotics or massive inputs of energy and water through grain-fattening. In fact, it's estimated that if humans switched most of their meat-eating to bug eating that alone would be a huge to cut our carbon emissions and water footprint.
We all agreed that the mealworm pot pie could use some gravy, but Jon soldiered on, and ate his without further complaint.

I learned all these facts and more from our host for the evening, Rachael Young, who owns Eat Yummy Bugs. She often puts on dinners like this one to introduce Vermonters to the idea of eating bugs.  The whole thing was made doubly attractive because of its setting and dessert menu.  The dinner was held at ArtsRiot, one of those local institutions that epitomize why I love Vermont so much.  It's a space that hosts daily and nightly events and dinners -- Cajun, Ethiopian and Mad Dash (a stationary bike spinning contest) are a sprinkling of recent options.  And dessert came courtesy of Nutty Steph's, a one-of-a-kind chocolate shop and sometimes piano bar in tiny Middlesex, Vermont.

So, on to the question that anyone who has actually made it this far in the post is probably waiting for: what did we actually eat? It was a five course meal consisting of:

 I Salad (with creamy silkworm pupae dressing and cricket crouton)
II Bumpkin Soup (pumpkin soup with corn and roasted silkworms)

The soup was tasty, but silkworms have a kind of chalky texture a little like lima beans

III Crickets and Grits (crickets on fried mealworm gritcakes with avocado drizzle)

My favorite savory dish of the evening -- crickets and grits

IV Bug Pot Pie (potato, cabbage and mealworm filling in a pot pie with a cricket flour crust)

We were starting to get a little full at this point, but we somehow managed -- here's the bug pot pie.

V Dessert (mealworm truffles and chocolate mealworm flour cookies)

My favorite courses were the crickets and grits and the truffles.  Except for the roasted silkworms, which had a slightly chalky consistency and "popped" a little when you bit into them, it was all pretty easy to get used to. The whole thing made me realize that we eat what we eat in large part because of habit and convenience.  Things that seem gross are ones with textures, tastes or origins that are less familiar, but there's nothing that inherently requires that we strain to the familiar. Eating is one of the most ordinary things we all do, every day.  But the simple act of putting the bodies of worms and crickets into my mouth instead of, say, the corpses of shrimp or chunks of cow, was the most revolutionary thing I've done in weeks.  Which maybe says something about just how hard it is for we humans to honestly explore the question of whether we know what we like or merely like what we know.
The bug-eating crew: Amanda, Bryn, Jon, Mark, Kate and James

Coming Attractions
Curling: This is actually something I already did, and still need to write about.  But since it involves about a million special terms and rules, it'll take a little while for me to get it together for the next post.

Nordic Skating: At long last, it looks like I'm getting my chance to try Nordic skating this weekend  (Saturday, March 1) at Lake Morey.  If anyone else wants to give it a go, there's still time to join the group.

March Fitness Madness: It's easy to tell that my cousin, Jensen Siplon-Curry, and I share the same gene pool because we share some funny similarities, including a love for figuring out new challenges and roping others into doing them with us.  She came up with the challenge for March -- 100 miles (or its time-equivalent, in sweaty 30-minute increments) of exercise for the month. I'm signed on, as has my sister, Katrinka and friends, Lynn and Kate.  Still room for others to join in -- shoot me an email if you're interested.


No comments:

Post a Comment