Post # 356 Sizzlin’ Grubs

March 30, 2015 at 8:49 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 356 Sizzlin’ Grubs

I got to thinking the other day, I’ve eaten far too many bugs than any human being ought to.  There’s been the plethora of bugs, usually of the gnat variety, that have found their way into my mouth on bike rides, motorized and pedals, and the ones that have entered my food supply while camping out.  But the easy majority of bugs have been eaten by choice.  Mostly by my own choice.  It’s due to The (damned) Rule, and there are times when I question its wisdom and validity.

I’ve already told you about the multiple times I’ve eaten snails.  Once, in Laos, I saw snails so large that as they crawled down a wall, their shells would hang in front of them, blocking their eyestalks.  Laos was also the place where I saw the woman on the street selling toasted bugs, and patrons eating them like popcorn.  And Laos was the place where I got to try those wonderful fried crickets.

But, in various places in the world, I’ve tried cooked spiders.  I’ve had way more than just one fried grasshopper.  And a couple of times in Africa, I bit the bottom part of an ant off and squished it in my mouth to get a sweet honey taste.

I’ve not done this, but I’m told that scorpions can be eaten, too.

Once, I ran a search on the internet about edible bugs to make sure I wasn’t being poisoned and found out that some cultures toast and grind bugs to make a flour.  Scientists have long known that bugs are incredibly high in protein so the flour would be too.  I can’t imagine a chocolate chip cookie make from cricket flour.  I’d keep wondering what the chocolate chips were made from.

Several years ago, here in this part of the country, the cicadas were entering their 17 year cycle so they were coming out of the ground to mate.  The dogs and ducks were going crazy, gobbling them up by the pound.  So many people were worried, one of the local news stations ran a report about how delicious the cicadas are.  You have to grab them as soon as they come out of the ground.  Sauté them in butter and they taste just like asparagus.  So, me being me, I tried it, just the once.  It wasn’t too bad, but it did not taste like asparagus to me.  I’m surprised they didn’t say it tasted like chicken, cuz, as you know, everything tastes like chicken.  Including chicken.

Then there’s the chocolate covered insects.  I have to say, if you use a high quality chocolate, nearly anything covered in it will taste good.  And since I tend to be the adventurous type, when I had the opportunity, I tried chocolate covered ants.  Pretty decent.  Mostly crunchy chocolate.

Most people can’t handle the thought of eating bugs.  Although they’ll happily eat shrimp and lobster, etc. the bugs of the ocean.  I had a colleague a while back who could not even bear the sight of a bug.  This was brought home to me by one incident in Mexico.

The woman was a total professional.  I knew there was a fun person behind that professional persona, but I had not yet cracked it to see the real person.  I find I work better with people if I know them pretty well, but I also respect another person’s boundaries so I didn’t work too terribly hard to get beyond whatever she wanted to present.

Then one day there were four or five of us walking home from work, her among them.  We had to walk past a construction site that had a board fence perimeter.  I thought nothing of this, nor of the triple or quadruple line of cock roaches wandering back and forth from the street to the construction site on the sidewalk.  We were all talking and as I said, I didn’t think anything of the bugs walking around.  We were in Mexico, about an hour and a half from where I grew up.  This was nothing to me.

Until I heard a shriek that was ripped from the bottom of someone’s soul.  As I started to turn, I felt just the slightest pressure on my shoulder, and I watched this young woman levitate at the height of five feet for the length of six or seven feet, screeching the entire time.  All I could think of was the superhero character Banshee who rode the sound waves he emitted as sonic shrieks.

We were all startled.  When she landed lightly, letting go of my shoulder, we all just stared at her.

“Are you okay?” I asked with some concern.

She was trembling slightly, but nodded her head.  “I can’t stand bugs.”

“That would be my guess,” I said.  “I’ve never seen anyone fly before.  Are you a superhero or something?”

She grinned.  “Nope, just a scaredy cat.”

I was struggling to withhold my laughter since I didn’t want to upset her anymore, but I found her to be more approachable after that.  Mostly because I could tell my eyes were brimming with unshed laughter every time I remembered her levitating over the roaches.  Which was every time I saw her.

My favorite bug story is actually the first time I ever ate a bug on purpose.  Way back in the day, I wanted to learn survival techniques.  I’d read a bunch of books about how to survive in the woods, etc. but I’d never had an opportunity try them out.  I found a survivalist school in the George Washing National Forest in the western part of Virginia and signed up for the first class.

About a week after I’d sent off the application and the check, I received a call from the instructor.  We discussed some of the preliminary tasks I’d have to do prior to the class then he told me which one he’d signed me up for which was for middle of Spring.  I’d asked for the late summer session and said so.

“Oh, I don’t have anyone else signed up for that session.  I may not do it.  Most people don’t like the late summer session because of the bugs.”

“Don’t want bugs?” I repeated.  “What are they going to eat then?”

He laughed out loud and said, “I’ll sign you up for that, but if I don’t get enough for a class, I’ll send your check back.”

He got enough and the class was held.  We arrived on Thursday afternoon and sat around meeting each other and the instructor.  We learned that on Friday night there’d be a big bonfire and a surprise for the meal.

The surprise was grubs.  Grubs are large or small, the pupae of various kinds of flies.  I’d read they were incredibly delicious.  They’re almost entirely made up of fat.  We heated flat rocks beside the fire until they were practically glowing.  Then we tossed a few grubs on the rocks and listened to them sizzle.  The instructor used a stick to move them around so they didn’t burn.  Once they were “done” an even scorch all over, we used two sticks to pick them up, like chopsticks.  I popped one into my mouth and bit down.  I warm, buttery, almost like popcorn taste exploded in my mouth.  This was GOOD!  I reached for another, then turned to watch how they were prepared.  The instructor was grinning at me.

“I had a feeling you were going to like them,” he said.

Understatement.  I haven’t tried them since, but I remember fondly that first crackling bite and that wonderful warm flavor.

BTW – I was going to add a picture of grubs, but, well, there aren’t any “cute” pictures of grubs, so I didn’t.

Enjoy

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