I’d Like My Hornet Larvae Extra Crispy, Please

Photo by Alpha, Flickr

Cricket flour is here, now what do we do with it? In Lucky Peach magazine, Michael Snyder writes about the many ways people in the Indian state of Nagaland cook their local insects. Your garden species will differ, but Snyder’s article, paired with Jennifer Billock’s “Are Insects the Future of Food?,” provides practical food for thought for a planet whose appetite for animal protein might soon outstrip its ability to produce it. Chocolate covered ants were a novelty. There’s no more time to play gross-out. So fire up the skillet and butter the grasshoppers, people. It’s cricket burger time:

The best hornet larvae don’t turn up until November, I’m told, but even in early September, when the larvae are smaller, they’re a delicacy. In the market, they’re sold not by weight but by the stack: big rounds of cardboard-like hive, half the cells squirming with plump, cream-colored pupae, the rest covered with a fine white sheath that, peeled back, reveals larvae in different stages of gestation. The whole thing has a sort of creepy science-fiction vibe—it looks like a hornet factory, which is just what it is—especially when you remove the white, papery layer to find near-adults clambering out of their cells and attempting to stretch their immature wings. Though I was assured that even these wouldn’t be big enough yet to sting, the whole endeavor felt much like a high-stakes, edible game of whack-a-mole.

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