Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eating Insects For Survival And Pleasure

In the developed world, not a lot of people eat insects for pleasure, but that is quite unusual if you consider the number of people and the number of nations in the world that do. In Asia, numerous individuals eat insects on a weekly or even daily basis. However, you may one day be glad that you read about eating insects, if you are stranded somewhere far from any other supply of food.

For example, lots of army personnel are taught how to eat worms and insects as part of their routine training course as part of their survival training. Insects are abundant and are simple to catch or trap, they are also a richer source of protein than steak and easier to cook and far less risky to eat raw than meat from mammals, fish or birds.

Insects can supply over three times the amount of protein weight for weight than any meat or fish. They are also free, you merely have to know where to look or how to bait them. However, you should not eat just any insect that you can get your hands on. There a couple of easy basic guidelines.

Do not consume anything that can bite or sting you back. Not because this is dangerous to you, but because creatures like bees, wasps and some ants only do not taste nice because of the poisons they create for their stings. A noteworthy exception to this rule is the scorpion. Numerous people find roast scorpion a delicacy.

You could hone this rule to just include brightly coloured, stinging insects - especially ones with yellow colouring. Furry insects are not nice either, especially caterpillars. Flying insects in general, like flies, mosquitoes, blue bottles and the like, should be avoided as well.

Big beetles (with the exception of cockroaches), grass hoppers, locusts, crickets and scorpions are the best. So are worms, maggots and most other larvae of that type like bee, wasp and hornet larvae. Termites and non-stinging ants are also safe to eat.

Most people fry the insects in oil after removing the wings (like with flying termites or ants). However, if you are stuck in the wild, you may not have any oil with you. Luckily, that is not too much of a difficulty if you cook the insects fairly slowly, because most of them have enough of their own body fat to be fried in.

If you find that taking your first meal of insects is just too much to stomach, have a go at mashing them in with some boiled root vegetables or wrap them in leaves. Boiled nettle leaves are very good for you and young dandelion leaves can be consumed raw.

If you are not certain how much to cook your insects, worms and larvae, here are a few tips from Asia. Fry big beetles, termites and scorpions until they are crunchy on the outside but with a small, slightly soft centre. Fry worms, crickets, grass hoppers and the like until they are hard and crisp and boil grubs and bee, wasp and hornet larvae for only a few seconds.

Most Westerners that visit Thailand turn their noses up at eating insects, but after six years of living here, I have never heard any of those who tried them say that they were unpleasant. In fact, most said that they were surprisingly tasty, but then why else would so many individuals like them?

Owen Jones, the writer of this piece, writes on a variety of topics, but is currently concerned with  Package Holidays to Thailand. If you want to read more about holiday romance in Pattaya, Thailand, go to  Behind The Smile

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