Before you rush off to report me to the nearest child welfare bureau, I should alert (or remind) you to the fact that insect-eating has now become, well not quite de rigueur, but rather curiosity-arousing in the Netherlands. As I sit here munching on my deep-fried cassava chips, I wonder if my nutritional needs could be better served by downing a few strands of waxworms. By the way, when I say “insects”, the taxonomy includes worms, larvae and the like (because that’s how it seems to be marketed).
I would love to love insects. They look disgusting but isn’t disgust really just a learned attitude? I didn’t quake at the taste of balut (duck embryo, popular in the Philippines) and century egg is one of my favourite accompaniments to a bowl of hot congee (this felled several nervy Fear Factor participants). The French stab their snails with silver escargot forks (a “locust tong” may help sales?) while some coffee snobs can’t drink their java if it’s not pressed from the poop of a civet cat (kopi luwak). So when you think about it, there’s really nothing wrong with eating caterpillars or locusts, and they are quite dead and cooked by the time they reach your rosy red lips. I think part of our queasiness stems from imagining the poor things still squirming or fluttering their wings on the plate.
For the longest time, I’ve had a personal quest to try as many unusual food items as possible. NL is definitely not the best place to pursue this goal – until now. Jumbo supermarkets have just started promoting their insects (buffalo worm burgers, crispy mealworms) and aim to supply all their outfits with protein-packed crawlies by early 2015.
This really tests my mettle. I’m trying to hypnotize myself into embracing entomophagy – thinking of my multi-legged friends as aromatic pine nuts sort of helps but I’m not quite there yet. Like the fear of water, it is much harder to unlearn a psychological impediment that has lodged in your soul for decades. Hence, would it not be best for Petit-Homme to start diversifying his snacks early (insects even helpfully conform to single bite portions that travel well)? And, if ever famine were to hit us, or if he were to move to Congo or China, he’d thrive happily.
I’m still feeling dubious …