Audubon’s insect cafeteria

Sidebar: Insects

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Would you fancy grasshopper gumbo? Perhaps mushroom hors d’oeuvres topped with a batter-dipped and lightly fried dragonfly—in season, of course—drizzled with a sauce of Dijon mustard, soy and butter?

These are among recipes that self-taught insect chef Zack Lemann has whipped up as possible menu items for Bug Appétit. This restaurant offering bugged dining will be a permanent feature of the Audubon Nature Institute’s Insectarium. Celebrating insects and other arthropods, the 23,000-square-foot museum will open June 13 in New Orleans.

“For the tentative gourmand,” Lemann says he might produce chocolate-covered bugs or cookies garnished with toasted crickets. More daring diners might opt for red beans and “yikes,” he suspects, which is rice seeded with poached wax worms that “are rice-colored and rice-shaped, but quite a bit bigger.” In many instances, people will see the bug but not really taste it. Certainly, he says, “we won’t try to hide the bugs.”

Curious diners who can’t make it to New Orleans can sample insect-laced cuisine at events such as CornellUniversity’s fall Insectapalooza, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ autumn BugFest or PurdueUniversity’s spring Bug Bowl.

Or, cooks can experiment at home using insects normally destined to become food for pets like reptiles. Lemann contends that nutty-flavored crickets, in particular, can be substituted in any recipe that calls for small chopped pieces of fruit, vegetables, meat or nuts.

Janet Raloff is the Editor, Digital of Science News Explores, a daily online magazine for middle school students. She started at Science News in 1977 as the environment and policy writer, specializing in toxicology. To her never-ending surprise, her daughter became a toxicologist.

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