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Cicada ice cream: Yum! And possibly good for you too

June 10, 2011|By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog
  • The cicadas are out! Time to get cooking, some say.
The cicadas are out! Time to get cooking, some say. (Nancy Hinkle / University…)

Earlier this week, the internet was abuzz with reports that health officials in Columbia, Mo., had stepped in to prevent local ice cream parlor Sparky's from serving (apparently quite tasty) ice cream made with cicadas, the noisy bugs that swarm vast stretches of the South and Midwest every 13 years.  

It turns out those reports didn't get the story completely right.  According to reporter Melissa Klauda, who broke the cicada ice cream story and also served up a delicious bit describing other ways to eat the critters (loving that photo of the cicada pizza!), health officials didn't ban the frozen treat.  Rather, when folks from Sparky's called to ask about the safety of serving up insect ice cream, the officials "advised against the use of cicadas in the ice cream because the department did not have information regarding cooking temperatures for cicadas."  

Sparky's management ultimately decided to stop selling the ice cream, wrote Klauda -- adding that her "words were twisted" by publications who said that the health department had stepped in.

Indeed, if health departments were to start making rules about eating creepy crawlers like cicadas, they might decide to give the practice of eating bugs, also known as entomophagy, a big thumbs-up. 

According to connoisseurs, bugs are nutritious --  and sustainable.  According to this article written by the aptly-named John Roach, cicadas are "a healthy alternative to that bacon double-cheeseburger without the bun" -- low in fat, high in protein, nary a carb in sight.  People say they taste like peanuts.

Last year, Los Angeles Times reporter Jeannine Stein interviewed husband-and-wife team Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio, authors of "Man Eating Bugs: The Art and Science of Eating Insects," about their new book "What I Eat: Around the World in 80 Diets." 

For more on cicadas' food worthiness, check out this site.  

"Bug Chef Extraordinaire" David George Gordon offers recipes such as "Sheesh! Kabobs" (which incorporate marinated Orthoptera, an order of insects including grasshoppers and crickets) at his website.

Looking to munch on bugs in the Los Angeles area?  See where food adventurer Jonathan Gold suggests you dine.

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