Bug Dinner Menu from 1885 – Entomophagy in History

1885 Bug dinner menuReprinted from BugsAndBeasts.com

In 1885, Vincent M. Holt published a slim volume, more of a pamphlet really, entitled “Why Not Eat Insects” to help persuade his fellow Victorians to give entomophagy a try. See the whole book online here, thanks to the cool folks at www.BugsandBeasts.com.

Holt prefaced the work by saying, essentially, “Look, I know this seems weird, but if you just hear me out, I think you’ll agree that this makes sense. My bugs be all organic and vegan, yo.” Or, in his own words:

In entering upon this work I am fully conscious of the difficulty of battling against a long-existing and deep-rooted public prejudice. I only ask of my readers a fair hearing, an impartial consideration of my arguments, and an unbiassed judgment. If these be granted, I feel sure that many will be persuaded to make practical proof of the expediency of using insects as food… My insects are all vegetable feeders, clean, palatable, wholesome, and decidedly more particular in their feeding than ourselves.

Holt goes on to explain the benefits of bug-eating, citing many of the same historic and cultural references you’ll hear from entomophagy advocates today. The question is, what will set our modern movement apart from efforts in the past? I believe that today’s world citizens are more interested than ever before in finding eco-friendly alternatives that don’t drastically inconvenience them, and eating insects could be just that. The main heavy lifting would be in making the mental shift about what does and does not constitute good food.

Many of us have a gut-feeling that eating insects is somehow wrong, gross, dirty, or otherwise bad, and we can’t even remember when we started feeling that way. Because we don’t remember how it started, we tend to believe it is a natural reaction, while history and global culture prove otherwise. Do you recall when you first heard that bugs were gross, dirty, or frightening? Is it possible that you simply absorbed this information straight from your parents at an impressionable age, possibly when they yanked insects out of your young, inquisitive mouth? I like to call this sort of inbred bias “the cultural matrix” – we don’t even remember how these ideas got there, and yet they are so ingrained that they feel, well, obvious. Especially when the rest of the world concurs, reinforcing the ideas even further.

I am currently researching the question of how exactly we got turned off to bugs as a culture. I believe the Bible was a strong influence; as it says in Leviticus 11:20:

All winged insects that creep, going upon all fours, shall be detestable to you.

Ok, so Moses wasn’t an entomologist. The Bible says the same thing, by the way,  about pigs and shellfish, a directive most Westerners have completely gotten over or ignored (because shrimp and bacon taste good, man!). Interestingly, amongst all of this abominate finger-pointing, locusts and their ilk were actually sanctioned by the Bible:

There are, however, some winged creatures that walk on all fours that you may eat: those that have jointed legs for hopping on the ground. Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper.  – Leviticus 11:21 and 22

 So how is it that pork and oysters have made it past the Bible-ban, while insects, certain types of which are clearly allowed in the Bible, remain in the “unclean” category? 

I’d love your feedback if you have an idea!


Where To Eat Bugs In The US – Via AirTran Magazine!

Airtran Magazine asked me to come up with a list of places in the US you can go to try insects. Check out the handy Bug-Zagat Guide here!

Speaking of airlines, this reminds me of the time Dave Gracer and I were coming back from the  SIFAT International Conference on Edible Insects. We had a bunch of dried bugs left over, so we thought we’d see if anyone at the airport wanted any…they did!

Recipe: Scare-amel Apples!

Bug out your bell-ringers or party-guests with these tricked-out treats inspired by Hotlix.com. They were a hit at a company office party – not a single bite was left over. The mealworms and crickets provide a nutty crunch and boost of protein. Except for the “thin layer” of caramel, this is a pretty healthy trick- er, treat.


  • Apples
  • Caramel
  • Skewer sticks
  • Waxed paper
  • Bugs

Bake rinsed, frozen bugs (mealworms and crickets work well for a mixed-bug look; mealworms alone will look quite snazzy) on lightly-oiled baking sheets at 350 degree for 10-15 minutes, or until golden and crunchy (will smell like roasted nuts). Be careful not to burn them. Periodically turn or shake pans to ensure uniform roasting.

Shove sticks into apples’ cores, from stem to stern, so apples can sit upright. Melt a handful of caramels in a small pot on medium heat until gooey.  Dip apples into caramel. Once coated, remove, allowing excess to drip off bottom. Roll apple in roasted bugs, and set to cool on waxed paper. Refrigerate until cool.

Once the caramel has hardened, you can slice the apples off the sticks just before serving. Cut in stright lines around the core, and then cut smaller pieces. Bug appetit!

P.S. In the background are Rice Creepy Treats. Mix any leftover roasted buglets into regular Rice Crispies Treats recipe for added nuttiness and protein!

P.P.S. Don’t try to cut apples up beforehand, like this:

Although an interesting experiment, the caramel reacted with the moisture in the apples and became watery. They were very tasty, though!

SF Weekly Bugs Out

SF Weekly photos by Kimberly Sandie. Hair and makeup by Ellyse Bernales. Animation by Andrew J. Nilsen

I really can’t get over this animation by Andrew Nilsen for the SF Weekly, wherein I eat a cockroach, barf up a waterbug, and then eat it again. Fabugulous.
P.S. I got the (undigested) waterbug from David Gracer at SmallStockFoods.com.

Spice up your event or classroom with Girl Meets Bug!

Want to make your event, party, or class the most unique of the season? Then you need bugs, my friend. Lots of bugs. 

A Girl Meets Bug speaking engagement/cooking demonstration is sure to get everyone’s attention, while at the same time making a positive, eco-friendly statement. Students and guests alike will be wowed by the cool insects they’ll see, the fascinating facts they’ll learn, and the delicious bug d’oeuvres! 

Cucumber Garlic Crickets as served at the World Future Council/UN "Year Of The Forest" Awards Dinner

 I have menus and packages for every occasion:
  • Festivals
  • Dinner parties
  • School assemblies
  • Outdoor/survival programs
  • Cooking classes
  • You name it!

I’ve spoken and performed extensively at places like: the Central Park Zoo, the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History, the California Academy of Sciences, the California State Fair, NASA, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, the Guinness World Records Museum, as well as on TV and radio.

 Give your guests the mouthful they’ll never stop talking about!

For dates and rates, contact me at girlmeetsbug@gmail.com.

The New Yorker: Grub

Photo by Hans Gissinger
I got to spend an evening with the fascinating Dana Goodyear while she was preparing to write her wonderful article, “Grub,” for The New Yorker. She accepted an invitation to come over and watch me and David Gracer of Small Stock Foods cook up some bugs for dinner – including one we’d never tried before: the tailless whip scorpion.
We learned later that tailless whip scorpions had been eaten, live, on Fear Factor, but at the time it was completely new territory for us. Here’s a video of what happened, taken by Ms. Goodyear: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2011/08/eating-insects-entomophagy-video.html

Tailless whip scorpions, in addition to being tasty, are a great option for arachnophobes-in-therapy: despite their frightening appearance, they have no venom, nor fangs. The worst they will do is pinch you momentarily with their tiny claws, and trust me, it doesn’t hurt (I’ve received worse treatment from adorable green caterpillars). What the whips’ do is wander around, feeling things out with their extra-long antenna-like sensory legs, and catch prey with their pincers. They’re quite lovely and meditative to watch, actually, though they can move fast when they want to.

Because they are hard to come by, we recommend sticking to more common grub, like crickets and larvae. However, the whips’ are great examples of how our eyes can play tricks on us when it comes to insects and arachnids: they generally aren’t as scary or as gross as we think they are.

What Do Bugs Taste Like, Anyway?

(Reposted from the Huffington Post.)

It may have crawled into your consciousness lately that edible insects are the new green thing: they are extremely sustainable to raise, requiring far fewer resources than other forms of livestock, and they produce fewer greenhouse gas-causing emissions per pound of protein. To put this into perspective, a pound of crickets requires nearly 1000 times less water to produce than a pound of beef, and the livestock sector has been credited with contributing more GHGs than transport. Meanwhile, insects are highly nutritious (crickets contain more iron and calcium than beef); and are eaten in more cultures than not, putting the US, and our bug-sneering ways, in the minority.

Green is good, agree most folks. But how do they taste?

With nearly 1500 edible insect species to choose from, it’s a complex question to answer. How many different types of meat have you sampled in your lifetime? Most people never get beyond the standard dozen-plus basics of chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and 5-10 kinds of fish. Compared to the 250 varieties of insect eaten in Mexico alone, this is a fairly limited flavor palette — the “beginner box” of culinary Crayolas.

Insects, on the other hand, represent the majority of the animal biomass on earth. They have thousands of different habitats, and many of them are dependent on eating just one type of plant, creating a kaleidoscope of flavor potentials. There are, however, some generalities.

On the whole, insects tend to taste a bit nutty, especially when roasted. I believe this comes from the natural fats they contain, combined with the crunchiness of their mineral-rich exoskeletons. Crickets, for instance, taste like nutty shrimp, whereas most larvae I’ve tried have a nutty mushroom flavor. My two favorites, wax moth caterpillars (AKA “wax worms”) and bee larvae, taste like enoki-pine nut and bacon-chanterelle, respectively.

Recently, when I served this grub at the LA Natural History Museum’s Big Bug Cook-off, one kid on the judging panel said my “Alice in Wonderland” dish of sauteed waxworms and oyster mushrooms tasted like Macaroni and Cheese, while the rest agreed that my “Bee-LT Sandwich” tasted like it was made with real bacon. Bug-con. Bee-con?

The term “bug,” while having a specific taxonomic meaning, is also used as an umbrella term to include land-arthropods in general, including arachnids, like scorpions and spiders. The arachnids often taste like a light, earthy version of shellfish, crab and lobster in particular. This makes sense, since from a biological stand point, bugs and crustaceans are quite closely related. However, the air-breathing group of invertebrates has one distinct advantage over its sea-steeped brethren: they aren’t bottom feeders. Scorpions, tarantulas, and other edible arachnids all catch their prey live, unlike a crab which may be just as happy to feast on detritus.

These examples are fairly tame and recognizable; most people can swallow the idea of nutty mushrooms and earthy shellfish. But there are flavors in the bug world that can hardly be equated with anything familiar. The giant water bug, also known as a toe-biter, practically defies description; as one writer enthused after his first time eating them, “There is simply nothing in the annals of our culture to which I can direct your attention that would hint at the nature of [its] flavor.”

For the sake of this article, however, I will do my best to capture the experience: when fresh, these aggressive beetles have a scent like a fresh green apple. Large enough yield tiny filets, they taste like melon soaked in banana-rose brine, with the consistency of red snapper. It’s no wonder their extract is a common ingredient in Thai sauces.

Conservative eaters are likely to prefer to stick to what they know, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll find this galaxy of mysterious new flavors simply too compelling to resist. Meanwhile, your home planet will thank you for choosing a more sustainable source of protein, and you’ll wonder why you ever thought eating bugs was in bad taste.

Bug appetit!

6-Ingredient Cricket Stir-Fry

Cabbage, Peas ‘n’ Crickets

I just came up with a new recipe “on the fly,” as it were, as I was cooking lunch: an easy, 6-ingredient stir fry starring crickets as the main protein, calcium and iron source.

This recipe is crazy simple. All you need is crickets, snap peas, and cabbage. Toss them in hot oil with a pinch of garlic and salt, and voila. Bug’s on!


  • Handful of crickets
  • 1 cup chopped snap peas
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 crushed clove of garlic
  • Pinch of salt

Chop snap peas and cabbage. Heat olive oil in pan or wok. Begin stir-frying veggies and crickets. After 1 minute or so, add crushed garlic. Once cooked to desired level (I prefer mine firm and crunchy) add salt. Bug appetit!


Recipe: Bee-LT Sandwich

Bee-LT Sandwich

Bee larvae, when sauteed with a little butter and a few drops of honey, taste very much like bacon.

Sometimes, when I talk about eating bees, I hear concern about the problems plaguing bee populations. Naturally, I would never recommend a bug-gredient that is threatened.

I primarily eat drone larvae, which I get from from beekeepers whom I’ve bee-friended. Unlike worker bees, the drones’ main purpose is to mate with the queen: they do not particiapte in pollination, nurse larvae, or help with hive construction. They buzz from hive to hive to see if anyone needs any mating done, and there are generally an excess of them. It is for this reason that beekeepers often consider them a drain on colony resources. Many beekeepers have a special comb just for drones, which they sometimes use as bait for potential parastites.

Periodically, they remove this comb altogether, toss it into the freezer to kill any “extras” like mites, and then either throw it away or feed it to chickens, if they have any. If more people knew how delicious they are, I think the chickens might have to peck elsewhere! 🙂


  • Bee larvae
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp honey
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 leaf lettuce
  • 2 slices of bread
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 pinch salt

Sautee the bee larvae in the butter, with a tiny bit of salt and a few drops of honey. Once larvae become golden brown and crispy-looking, remove, and mix into enough egg white to cover and bind them into a mass. Then return them to the sautee butter, pressing them together into a patty.

Toast bread, and slice tomato. Spread mayonnaise on toasted bread when ready. When bee patty becomes firm, place it atop the lettuce and tomato on the sandwich. Enjoy!