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Why not eat insects, by Vincent M. Holst (1885) Part 2 cont

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I think that I have now produced a sufficient number of precedents for the eating of insects, both in ancient and modern times, by nations civilized and uncivilized. These ought to be sufficient to incite any person of ordinary strength of mind to try for himself the unknown delicacies around him. We pride ourselves upon our imitation of the Greeks and Romans in their arts; we treasure their dead languages: why not, then, take a useful hint from their tables? We imitate the savage nations in their use of numberless drugs, spices, and condiments: why not go a step further?

Insects That Are Good To Eat;
And Something About Their Cooking

We have seen that, from the time of Moses down to the present day, various members of the insect family of Orthoptera, which includes the locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers, have been and are eaten and appreciated in many parts of the world. Now let us look at home, and consider why we should not do likewise, adding to our tables that clean meat, "the grasshopper after his kind." We are not without precedent. The example of the Church has backed up the written permission of the Bible. The Rev. R. Sheppard, many years ago, had some of our common large grasshoppers served up at his table, according to the recipe used by the inhabitants of Morocco in the cooking of their favourite locusts. Here it is. "Having plucked off their heads, legs, and wings, sprinkle them with pepper and salt and chopped parsley, fry in butter, and add some vinegar." He found them excellent. From personal experiment I can fully endorse his opinion; and there are few who would not, if they would but try this dish. I have eaten them raw, and I have eaten them cooked. Raw, they are pleasant to the taste; cooked, they are delicious. The above recipe is simple; but any one with a knowledge of cookery would know how to improve upon it, producing from this source such dishes, say, as "Grasshoppers au gratin," or "Acridae sautes a la Maitre d'Hotel."

Among the Coleoptera, or Beetles, we find many which might well serve as food; some in their larval, some in their complete state, and some in both. Here, again, there is no need to recruit from among the ranks of the carnivorous or foul feeders. There are, without those, plenty of strict vegetarians.

The grub of the Stag Beetle {Lucanus cervus) is said by many, as before mentioned, to be identical with the Cossus, which the Romans used to fatten for the table upon flour and wine. As this destructive grub, before turning to its beetle stage of life, spends some years gnawing at the hearts of our oak trees, it would be a boon to timber growers if this taste of the Romans were revived. There are many varieties of these timber-borers which might well be used for food, as are the Grugru and the Moutac grub in the East and West Indies. I have especially noticed a plump white grub which infests our young sallow trees in great numbers, boring upwards from the foot of the stem. When the plantations are cut down, why should this delicacy be wasted? If foolishly rejected at the tables of the rich, these larvae should be a joy to the woodman's family, and a reward for the toil of the breadwinner. If this were so, it would be the means of keeping down the number of these destructive pests, which are not now considered worth collecting.


What valid objection can there be to eating these insects, when the larvae of similar beetles are eaten all over the world, both by natives and by whites, and when such larvae are unanimously pronounced to be wholesome and palatable?

The Meal-worm, the larva of a small beetle (Tenebrio), is generally looked upon with disgust, as only fit food for tame birds. Even the strong-stomached and hungry sailor will rap his sea-biscuit on the table to shake out the worms before eating it. Let him shake out the worms, by all means; but let him collect them, fry in lard, and spread the dainty upon his dry biscuit. He will not again throw Meal-worms away.

In the common Cockchafer {Melolontha vulgaris) we find an inveterate enemy, which, after spending three years in gnawing the roots of our clover and grasses as a huge white grub, turns to its beetle state, only to continue its ravages upon the foliage of our fruit or forest trees. Literally tooth and nail we ought to battle with this enemy, for in both its stages it is a most dainty morsel for the table. The birds are more sensible than we. They know well the value of the fat chafer as food. With what joy the jaunty rooks, following the plough with long strides over the upturned clover lea, pounce upon the luscious grubs! What a feast the birds have among the swarms of chafers in the tall tree-tops!

Erasmus Darwin, in his "Phytologia," says: "I have observed the house sparrow destroy the Maychafer, eating out the central part of it, and am told that turkeys and rooks do the same; which I thence conclude might be grateful food, if properly cooked, as the locusts or termites of the East. And probably the large grub, or larva of it, which the rooks pick up in following the plough, is as delicious as the grub called Grugru, and a large caterpillar which feeds on the palm, both of which are roasted and eaten in the West Indies." Here is the openly expressed opinion of one of our greatest philosophers and deepest thinkers; and there is not the slightest doubt that it is correct.

Again I endorse from personal experience. Try them, as I have; they are delicious. Cockchafers are not only common, but of a most serviceable size and plumpness, while their grubs are, when full grown, at least two inches in length, and fat in proportion.

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