Bugs — If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Eat ‘Em

November 22, 2015 | By | Comments (1)
Mescal worms

Mescal worm tacos by Houston’s Chef Hugo Ortega, a four-time James Beard Award finalist. The worms taste like bacon. Mmmm……bacon. Photo: Debora Smail

As you’re preparing this Thanksgiving’s menu, don’t overlook unique side dishes that will make your feast the most memorable of all. Forget the cliche mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, cranberry sauce, congealed salad, and other boring sides you’ve suffered through decade after decade. This year, let’s feature a renewable food source that’s inexpensive, highly nutritious, and will have your guests buzzing with excitement. Bugs.

Grumpy credits Texas A&M entomologist Molly Keck for opening his eyes and mouth to this novel and emerging cuisine. She recently hosted a Bug Banquet for which folks ponied up $75 a head (theirs, not the bugs) to discover marvelous new flavors and textures. The menu featured fire ant queso dip (spicy, no doubt), candied pear salad green with roasted mealworms, goat cheese quesadillas with cricket flour tortillas, and baked apples with cricket granola. The verdict: two antennae up!

Intrigued, I walked over to food editor, Pat York, and asked her how many delicious holiday recipes incorporating bugs had ever appeared in Southern Living. She said zero. Moreover, there were no plans to present any bug recipes in the future.

Grumpy is shocked! If I were made aware of a fantastic new perennial, tree, or fungus for you to try, would I tell you about it? You bet your Aunt Lucy’s ovipositor I would! All right then, Southern Living foodies — I guess it’s up to me. Here are some of the best bug dishes you’ve never tried prepared by world-class chefs. Dig in!

Chef Karen Barosso’s Garlicky Grasshopper Mix


Photo: Guajillo

Grasshoppers, or chapulines, are among the most traditional of edible insects consumed in Mexico. At her Arlington, Virginia restaurant, Gaujillo, Chef Karen sautés them with garlic, chile de arbol oil, sea salt, and Spanish peanuts. She says they go great with mescal. The more mescal, the better.

Deep-Fried Tarantula

Deep Fried Trantula

Photo: Chugrad McAndrews

Talk about a side you can sink your teeth into! Author of the Eat A Bug Cookbook, Chef David George Gordon first freezes the lucky arachnids, removes their abdomens, and uses a butane torch to carefully singe off the hairs. Next, he dips them into tempura batter, and drops them into hot oil. Bet you can’t eat just one!

Mealworm Slaw

Mealworm Slaw

Photo: Daniella Martin

Author of Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet, Daniella Martin toasts mealworms in the oven until they’re crispy and then adds them to a salad of shredded red cabbage. She says you can also grind up the toasted worms and add them to smoothies. I’ll have another!

Marinated Stinkbugs

Marinated stink bugs

Photo: Paul Landkamer

Stinkbugs are a hot topic right now. Readers keep asking me what’s the best way to keep the little suckers off of their veggies and fruits. The answer is obvious. Eat them! Edible insect enthusiast Paul Landkamer says to boil them for five minutes in Cajun oil. Marinate them for 24 hours in your favorite sauce (maybe shoo-fly sauce?) and then dehydrate them until they’re crunchy. I just love the smell of marinated stinkbugs in the morning!

Where To Buy Your Grub
These dishes all sound delicious, you say, but I’ve searched Winn-Dixie, Publix, and even Whole Foods, and nobody sells edible insects. Not to worry — just order online from Thailand Unique. Among other delicacies, they offer giant water bugs, mole crickets, rhino beetles, chocolate covered scorpions (kids love ’em), tarantulas, giant centipedes, and buffalo dung beetles. Mmmm………dung beetles……with bacon.

Happy Thanksgiving! 



  1. Kat

    Thank you Pat York for not putting these bug recipes on the pages of Southern Living. Grumpy, get back on your meds!

    November 25, 2015 at 5:49 pm

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