Eat a grasshopper (2014)

Note: if the title makes you squeamish, maybe you should check out another post (like Give flowers to a stranger). This post contains detailed descriptions of what it was like to eat grasshoppers.

Exploring the Market in Oaxaca - Photo Credit: William Neuheisel (william.neuheisel) via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Photo Credit: William Neuheisel via Flickr, Used unmodified under CC BY 2.0 license

Grasshoppers don’t taste like chicken. They taste more like tea leaves.

Ever since my grandma told me they used to eat grasshoppers growing up (only the brown ones, not the green ones, place in empty Coke bottles and roast in hot ashes), it’s been on my bucket list to experience for myself.

Last night, my brother and I went to Poquitos, a local Mexican restaurant that serves chapulines, toasted grasshoppers seasoned with chile, lime, and salt. It cost $2 for half a cup of small grasshoppers (each about 1 inch long).

They smelled like dried chile peppers because of the seasoning, so nothing exciting to report there, and the sight was not surprising if you’ve ever seen pictures of bugs prepared for eating (like the picture I chose for this post). Still, if you have problems with your food being recognizable as a once-living creature, the visual aspect may be a little more difficult to handle. (It’s not like they were looking back at us — or if they were, they were too small to really tell — so even if you’re the kind of person who can’t eat a fish with the head on, you can probably still try a grasshopper).

I thought the weirdest part would be the feeling of the legs in my mouth, but most of the legs had fallen off. Of the grasshoppers that had the legs still attached, I could feel them a little, but it wasn’t creepy at all, just a little prickly.

The texture was different from what I expected. I thought it would be crunchy-hard on the outside and softer/gooey on the inside. Instead, the main part of the exoskeleton ranged from soft-crisp (like nori) to slightly crunchy (like popcorn husk), the legs were crunchy-hard (like the outside candy shell of an M&M or a pin bone from a small fish — basically it felt like what I expected the exoskeleton to be like), and the inside was soft, a little chewy, but not gushy or gooey.

Apart from the taste from the seasoning, the bug itself tastes like tea leaves. My favorite part of the chapulines ended up being the legs, both for texture and taste. They taste much less leafy to me than the bodies did, and have a more satisfying crunch.

Overall, based on taste, I’d say they’re not on my favorite foods list, but I’d have no problem eating them if they were served to me. I’ll definitely try bugs again, but I’d like to try them at different places and compare their taste and texture. My brother tells me there’s an Indian restaurant nearby that serves crickets, so perhaps that’s next…

Have you eaten insects?

Resource: Interested in eating bugs? Here’s a guide to help you choose which insect you might like best.

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13 thoughts on “Eat a grasshopper (2014)

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  3. Melissa

    Wow Shelly! I’m so impressed by your insect eating experience! Mine was just bugs turned into a sort of pate. Although the talk I heard last week may have helped to increase my motivation…the speaker pointed out that over here in Europe they eat snails and break the heads and tails off of their large prawns…very different from in the states, but really Europeans have no excuse to not eat insects if they’re going to eat these other “delicacies.”

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    1. Shelly Najjar Post author

      What did you put the pate on? Sounds like a good talk. I think there are places that serve the heads on the prawns. Most places that serve prawns in shells leave the heads, legs, tails, etc on I think. I’ve had them served to me that way before. Definitely messier but I don’t eat those parts. It never occurred to me to eat them (except the tails, my mom eats those if they’re crunchy, but I don’t like them).

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  4. Marina MednikVaksman (@aMusingMarina)

    Yes, I still have that bag of bugs! They were generously provided by worldento.com, but what with all the thesis writing and moving I never did get around to finding a recipe to use those crickets in. However, I brought them with me to Austin, and now your post is inspiring me to start thinking about how to prepare and share this gift.
    I loved reading about your experience eating grasshoppers and am eager to hear about further adventures with crickets 🙂

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    1. Shelly Najjar Post author

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Marina. I’m surprised you haven’t tried the bugs yet, you seemed really excited about the idea. If you need ideas, I did a Google search for “cricket recipes” and the top two results were:
      1. http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html
      2. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniella-martin/5-ways-to-cook-a-cricket_b_914543.html
      Happy cooking! Please stop by again and let us know how they are once you get around to trying them. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Eating insects is good for you… and catching on quickly (Guest Post) | Nutrition Nuts and Bolts

  6. Rilla Z

    Thanks for the description. I think I’ll just live vicariously through your experience on this one! I wish you could’ve seen my face while I read this. Ewwww. 😀

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      1. Rilla Z

        I’d love to try produce grown in Ukraine. Not very interesting, I guess, but Ukraine was known as the bread basket of the Soviet Union before the Chernobyl disaster. My husband says the food there tastes incredible. Of course, the country is undergoing violent change right now…

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        1. Shelly Najjar Post author

          Rilla, of course that’s interesting! Produce tastes different depending on where/how it’s grown, so it makes sense to me that you’d want to try produce from all over the world, especially from a country with such a history of great food reputation! Not uninteresting at all, many people want to eat specific foods while in specific places (“eat a lobster in Maine,” “eat Prosciutto in Italy,” “drink Champagne in Champagne,” etc).

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    1. Shelly Najjar Post author

      I thought about her too! Last time I saw her she had a bag of dried bugs that she had just purchased (? or maybe was gifted? -unsure) that she hadn’t tried yet. I’m going to try to get her to comment here to share her experience.

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