Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Travel is broadening, especially the food

In Travel is broadening, even the reading, I described the serendipitous periodicals I stumbled across. Now, I describe an experience that was just as expanding, but in a more deliberate way. When I was in Oaxaca, Mexico, I ate two insects that are considered to be local delicacies--grasshopper (chapulin) and mezcal worm (gusano). The grasshopper I ate because the superstition is that if one eats the grasshoppers, one will return to Oaxaca. The mezcal worm I ate because I was curious and wanted to show off. Both were actually quite tasty.

It seems that others think that eating insects might be a good idea, too, as this article from Discovery News via MSNBC indicates.

Another scoop of grasshopper? A push for us to eat more bugs
Company trying to remove 'icky, crunchy' parts to make insects more palatable in US
November 23, 2011
If you want to try something new for Thanksgiving, Matthew Krisiloff has a suggestion: add some insects to the meal.

Many Americans would respond to such a suggestion with a definite "Ew, no thanks," but not Krisiloff. The University of Chicago freshman is the president of Entom Foods, a startup encouraging people to seriously consider insects as a food source. He and four other students started the company last year.

Entom Foods aims to make Americans feel more comfortable eating bugs by removing elements that turn many people off — eyes, wings, legs and crunchy exoskeletons. Eventually, the company hopes to produce processed bug-based foods, such as insect cutlets. Krisiloff hopes marketing the insects in a familiar form will remove the "ick" factor and encourage more people to add insects to their diets.

The company plans to market insects such as crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers, which are already farmed commercially for use as animal feed.
As I wrote, the grasshoppers tasted delicious, and I didn't mind their crunchiness. I wouldn't mind eating them again--in Oaxaca. I'm not sure I'd eat the local ones here in the U.S., but I could be persuaded if someone knew how to cook them.

As for the mezcal worm, I was so taken with it and the drink associated with it that I bought a liter of Monte Alban mezcal on Thanksgiving, complete with worm. As it turns out, this might not be such a sustainable thing to do. From AlJazeera on YouTube.

Across Mexico, and in many world capitals, people are increasingly raisingly a glass of mezcal, a traditional Mexican liquor.

Connoisseurs of the strong drink say it tastes best when served the traditional way-- with a worm in it.

But the worm population is being pushed into decline, due to the drink's growing popularity.

Franc Contreras reports from Oaxaca state in southern Mexico.
The mezcal distillery shown in the clip just happens to be where I ate the mezcal worms. Small world.

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