The typical café’s menu is expected to have a fish and meat section, unless it happens to be a vegetarian café. Both sections might have a number of items in them, you know, a number of fish varieties and ‘meats’ on offer. But what would you make of a café whose menu includes an insects section? And if that drops your jaw, what still, would you make of a café whose menu included an amphibians section? Well, these are not imaginary places: there are real life cafes in the world today with exactly such sections.
Go to Singapore, for instance, and chances are that the typical café in certain parts of the country has scorpions on its menu. And no, they are not offered as a specialty: but as part of the day to day fare, standard stuff that one can expect anywhere. Turns out that although scorpions are amongst the most dangerous insects in the world, not all are harmful to humans. And it is precisely those ‘harmless’ varieties that the Singaporeans capture, fry and enjoy as a delicacy!
Then there are grasshoppers, widely eaten in the part of Mexico called Oaxaca. So ‘rampant’ is the consumption of grasshoppers in this region, in fact, that there is specialized name for them when prepared into a dish: as befits a delicacy of their stature. Go to a baseball game in this region of Mexico, especially during the stretch between May and September when the grasshoppers abound, and chances are that you are likely to bump upon a fellow hawking them (fried or barbecued, of course) to eager buyers.
It gets funnier, when locusts are introduced into the fare. The place is Thailand. As you may recall, the country was sometimes ago faced with a bad case of locust attack (locusts being the spectacularly destructive insects they are). Naturally, every method was tried to get rid of them, to no avail. Then someone, probably a genius, came up with the idea that the ‘human solution’ might work best. The rest is history: the insects were declared ‘good meat,’ recipes for preparing them given out, and the masses set upon them. Needless to say, today, locusts are no longer a problem in Thailand, but a source of food – a delicacy in fact.
You may have thought that it can’t possibly get worse, but that is only if you haven’t heard about crickets being eaten in some parts of Taiwan. It is true, the Taiwanese have a huge affinity for insects: including caterpillars. But the most commonly served are crickets, which are said to go ‘down very well’ when seasoned with garlic and chili and eaten alongside specially prepared potatoes.
Then there are maguey worms, at the very creepy end of the whole venture. The place, again, is Mexico. To be sure, maguey worms are only eaten in some parts of the country. There, they are endorsed for their nutritional value, and like all delicious meats, typically prepared through deep frying. The Mexicans love them when served in a spicy sauce.