Slimy Yet Satisfying!
Remember the popular movie Lion King? Remember that scene where Simba ran away and met up with a wart hog named Pumba and a meerkat named Timon who introduced their new found friend to eating bugs…so they wouldn’t get eaten by Simba! They have to coax him into trying bugs for food but like Pumba the wart hog says says “Slimy but satisfying” right before he downs one. After a while he gets used to eating bugs and likes them. Well, that is the way most people today, at least in the United States, think of eating bugs for food. However, anyone that has been into survival skills very long can probably all tell you their tales of eating bugs. Fact is in a survival situation you are going to need the protein. If you are very successful at hunting that is great but any honest person that has survived will admit that there are just some days hunting is not successful and your knowledge of edible plants and edible bug life can save your life. Fact is every nation on this planet eats bugs as part of their daily diet except for the United States. Most insects are safe to eat and pound for pound offer more nutrition than any animal commonly accepted as meat to eat and require less to feed and raise. The list of bugs safe to eat would be too long to list here. Some that I have eaten include grasshoppers, locusts, crickets and katydids. Avoid very colorful insects in general. Some insects like yellow jackets may be eaten if boiled. When boiled the stinger is softened and the poison is neutralized in the process. Yellow jacket soup was popular among the Cherokee. Stone flies and other nymphs may be eaten. Cicadas, ants, grubs and caterpillars may be eaten. Ants are great! The formic acid in their abdomens make each type of ant unique in flavor and rather sweet to the taste. Grasshoppers pretty much have no taste. They kind of taste like wood when roasted. I usually remove the wings and legs and twist the head to pull out their intestinal tract then roast them. The Native Americans used to either catch them early in the morning while they clinged to the top of a piece of grass, their body temperatures lowered due to the night air made them easy to take a twig and swat them into a gathering basket or a group would ‘drive’ them across a field to a waiting pile of dry grass where others who were waiting would light the grass on fire and roast them on the spot. I believe you should cook all meat, including insects to kill any parasites that may be harmful to you for even the smallest insect has parasites smaller than it is. I have been in some survival situations though where I have eaten some grubs and such raw. It is also wise to remove prominent legs and wings as these can get caught in your throat when you swallow. Insects in the survival situation can be made more palatable if they are roasted and ground into a powder and added to stews. I also recommend carrying a bouillon cube in your survival kit for flavoring. —Benjamin Raven Pressley
Here is some input from some good friends on the subject:
“Ants are, for the most, part one of the best bug feasts. The formic acid pretty much disappears when they are boiled. Black ants eaten raw have a semi sweet flavor. Sorta like crunchy raw sugar with legs. We use them to sweeten ephedra tea. Bees and wasps are OK eaten after a good boiling. The poison is basically a protein which disassembles at boiling temperatures. The stinger softens. Pounding them before boiling is effective. Bee and Wasp Larvae are delicious!
“One of the most dangerous insects is in the cantharidin family (blister beetles). I doubt that you will run into those unless you pop over to the Mediterranean just to munch bug. There are of course many cautions.
“Just a note. Beetles amount to about 40% of the known insects. The larvae of many beetles are very high in fat and protein and make great snacks.
“When in doubt about a bug do the insect safety test. And follow these time tested rules.
- Always try to cook insects.
- Never eat bugs you find dead.
- Don’t eat ones that bite back!
- If it smells really bad, don’t eat it!
“One last thought……. If you have a strong stomach,,, or at least a clear spew zone for a technicolor yawn….. try maggots. Road kills are often infested with them. Gather a handfull or two, drop your prize into an old sock and rinse in cold clear water a couple of times, then boil. After about five minutes toss in a bullion cube. When it is finished dissolving, settle back to a fine hot stew of what looks like brown rice. It is really a fine meal.”
“Graeme Newman wrote “The Down Under Cookbook” more than 10 years ago. I met him in Albany New York in 1988 and traded him a boomerang for one of his cookbooks. One of the recipes is as follows. – Ted Bailey
Witchety grubs (from the Aboriginal witjute, the name of roots in which the grubs are often found) are various larvae that feed in the wood of eucalytptus trees, most often between the bark and the trunk. They are about 1 to 2.5 inches long, with a fat creamy body about the width of a man’s thumb, and stumpy legs. The Australian Aborigines who live in the Outback are said to consider them a delicacy. As with most food taken by the Aborigines in the Outback, they eat their witchety grubs raw. I have never tried them prepared in that way. I recommend them cooked as follows, Outback style.
- Witchety grubs
- An old piece of metal
- Salt and pepper to taste
- A little cooking oil (optional)
“So you’re stuck in the Outback without anything except a little salt and pepper! The Outback is desolate often without vegetation, but one is sure to find somewhere a scrap piece of metal left from some failed effort to drive an enormous distance, or maybe from a Mad Max movie set. Scrub the metal clean, hopefully in a little sand and water from a nearby trickling creek. Prepare a fast, trench fire and place the metal across the top. Immediately place yams in coals beside the fire. After about 2 hours, when the hot plate is quite hot, drop the witchety grubs down and rapidly roll across the metal plate. Keep rolling until they are browned all over. Remove from heat, allow to cool. Remove yams from coals. Break open yams and serve each yam with a witchety grub nestled in the middle. On a dare, I once ate a witchety grub cooked according to this recipe. It tasted quite delicious, somewhere between roast pork and chicken, and it stayed down too. But I have to admit that I haven’t eaten one since. Grub is a word used by Australians to refer to any larvae found in the garden and elsewhere.”
The Food Insects Newsletter
Some Insect Foods of the American Indians:
And How the Early Whites Reacted to Them
November 1994. Volume 7, Issue #3.
There is a small fly (Hydropyrus hians), belonging to the group known as “shore flies” (Diptera: Ephydridae), that formerly bred in vast numbers in the alkaline waters of Mono Lake and other alkaline lakes in the California-Nevada border region. It was called kutsavi (or variations thereof) by the Paiute and other tribes. The fly pupae washed ashore in long windrows. J. Ross Brownel, who visited Mono Lake in about 1865, told of encountering a deposit of pupae about two feet deep and three or four feet wide that extended “like a vast rim” around the lake:
“I saw no end to it during a walk of several miles along the beach . . . . It would appear that the worms [read fly pupae], as soon as they attain locomotion, creep up from the water, or are deposited on the beach by the waves during some of those violent gales which prevail in this region. The Mono Indians derive from them a fruitful source of subsistence. By drying them in the sun and mixing them with acorns, berries, grass-seeds, and other articles of food gathered up in the mountains, they make a conglomerate called cuchaba, which they use as a kind of bread. I am told it is very nutritious and not at all unpalatable. The worms are also eaten in their natural condition. It is considered a delicacy to fry them in their own grease. When properly prepared by a skillful cook they resemble pork ‘cracklings.’ I was not hungry enough to require one of these dishes during my sojourn, but would recommend any friend who may visit the lake to eat a pound or two and let me know the result at his earliest convenience …. There must be hundreds, perhaps thousands of tons of these oleaginous insects cast up on the beach every year. There is no danger of starvation on the shores of Mono. The inhabitants may be snowed in, flooded out, or cut off by aboriginal hordes, but they can always rely upon the beach for fat meat.”
William Brewer2, a professor of agriculture, had sampled kutsavi during a visit to Mono Lake in 1863. Noting that hundreds of bushels could be collected, he wrote: “The Indians come far and near to gather them . The worms are dried in the sun, the shell rubbed off, when a yellowish kernal remains, like a small yellow grain of rice. This is oily, very nutritious, and not unpleasant to the taste, and under the name of koo-chah-bee forms a very important article of food. The Indians gave me some; it does not taste bad, and if one were ignorant of its origin, it would make fine soup. Gulls, ducks, snipe, frogs, and Indians fatten on it.”[READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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