Monday, May 18, 2009

I experimented with entomophagy (and I liked it!)

Yesterday I had one glorious day.

I spent around four hours, four whole hours, at a bug fair. I can call it nothing less than a complete celebration of all arthropods, including but not limited to insects, arachnids, etc.

Booths filled with live specimens, tables lined with pinned insects, spiders and scorpions. Entire halls filled with vendors selling related products, from pet spiders, pinned butterflies and collecting supplies, to books, jewelry and art prints.

I came knowing much of what it would be like (except for the millions of people there!). I came with the express intention of doing two things: touching any and all of the live specimens I wanted to, and also...wait, I'll let you in on this little surprise in a minute. It shouldn't surprise you, if it was me doing it. :-P

After browsing just a bit I went to a popular table, behind which stood people holding their beasties. Spiders were the main lot here, and they were all tarantulas! Mm-mmm!

You see, as you all saw here my resident arachnophobia apparently was not under complete control. As a young teen I had slowly but surely picked away at my own fear of spiders, which I at one point had realized was entirely pointless and came from the way I had been raised. I was quite dissappointed after the event of the post I just linked. I knew I wasn't 100% free from this irrational fear, and I had wanted to take a big step in conquering this fear at this bug fair. I was confidant I could do it, but I'll admit it wasn't as easy as you might think with a guy like me (who nonetheless literally loves spiders). What I mean by "do it", I mean handling a big, fat, juicy, hairy spider.

A female I felt quite bad for was apparently stressed after being handled a million times. I didn't get to actually hold this one, but I did touch its abdomen. My finger almost twitched back, but I made contact again. I didn't want to touch too hard as I knew I could hurt her (the abdomen is where all spiders' vital organs are).

I moved on down the table and was met with a happy young boy, no older than ten or so, who was holding an energetic light-brown tarantula. I asked to hold it. This was it! I admitted to him that I was on a little mission to get over remnants of my old arachnophobia. As I held out my hand for it to walk from his to mine, I groaned/whined a bit as it crossed over onto me. I knew what I was doing and it was a little mini "Aahh!" moment for me, but the fear is irrational and therefore is not to be allowed in myself under any circumstances whatsoever. The boy was very kind, saying, "See? It's not so bad. It's not so bad!" and it truly wasn't. It walked lightly on me, its weight evenly distributed on all eight legs. I had to put one hand in front of the other as it continued to walk even when my hand would end! This created a fun little endless conveyor belt for him. I knew I would succeed but was pretty happy anyhow. Besides, I mostly just wanted to touch a tarantula. :-D

And I didn't stop there! I held a big fat lady scorpion (shiny black, Pandinus imperator), a Madagascar hissing cockroach (yes, they really do hiss), a armored beetle, a silkworm, a monarch larva, another tarantula, and a millipede (Have you ever seen a millipede's legs? If you watch them from directly above, they look like they're rowing!). The tarantula was probably the most pleasing to touch--very light and unoffensive. The scorpion was quite heavy, the millipede tickled, the monarch left silk on me, and the cockroach latched onto my pinky finger and simply did not want to let go!

After doing all of this for some time I was wrapping up, but I had one more stop before I left. I made sure to see...the Bug Chef. You heard me right. I had come to touch, and, yes, to eat. I had always wanted to, so badly, and now was my one chance! It was indeed exciting.

His show is just what it might sound like it would be. "Entomophagy" is apparently the official word for bug eating, and he recommended telling people that you had "engaged in entomophagy" instead of just saying you'd eaten a bug. That was quite fun all day today....

He cooked cricket nymphs (essentially babies), locusts, and scorpions. He would call people up to help him cook and to sample his food. I was thankfully chosen to sample his cornmealed desert hairy scorpion! I was elated. I would eat an arachnid! Woot! (However I was dissappointed that I had missed his tarantula tempura. Literally, he'd prepared that the day before.) He gave me a claw and lined me and three other adventurous eaters up in front of his table. He asked the crowd to cheer us on but I didn't need it. On call, I popped the claw into my mouth and bit down. After the first pop it was hard to chew on, almost like a piece of plastic or something. It kinda got stuck in my throat as it went down too.... Tasted quite like pepitas, actually.

I declined to raise my hand for the other two meals to give someone else a turn. (Though believe me, I would have tried them. If it moves, I will eat it.) However he did have cricket orzo for the whole crowd. I tried that but spat out the onions and bell peppers. I decided to move in on just the little greyish brown cricket young 'uns. Kinda wierd...also nutty. Feels very wierd in your mouth. Neither were that good, but neither were bad either. Feels like it might be an acquired taste. I'd enjoy acquiring it though....

So, in honor of this playful occasion, I've decided to take a catchy song with horrible lyrics and redo it! (Kiddies, this is just a joke, please understand I don't condone the song. :-P)

I Ate A Bug

This was always the way I planned
Was my intention
I got so hungry, bug in hand
Left all social stigmas
It's not what, I'm used to
Just wanna see what it tastes like
I'm curious to find out
How taste you are

I ate a bug and I liked it
The taste of that exoskeleton
I ate a bug just to try it
I hope my stomach don't mind it
It tasted so wrong
It tasted so right
Don't mean that I'm full tonight
I ate a bug and I liked it
I liked it

No, I don't even know your scientific name
It doesn't matter
You're my entomophagal game
Just Spencer's nature
It's not what, normal guys do
Not how they usually behave
My tongue got so confused
Hard to decipher

I ate a bug and I liked it
The taste of that exoskeleton
I ate a bug just to try it
I hope my stomach don't mind it
It tasted so wrong
It tasted so right
Don't mean that I'm full tonight
I ate a bug and I liked it
I liked it

Those bugs they are so magical
Hard skin, red wings, so eatable
Hard to resist, so crunchable
Too good to deny it
Ain't no big deal, it's so yummy

I ate a bug and I liked it
The taste of that exoskeleton
I ate a bug just to try it
I hope my stomach don't mind it
It tasted so wrong
It tasted so right
Don't mean that I'm full tonight
I ate a bug and I liked it
I liked it



So, my hands and my mouth had a fun ride yesterday, as did my mind. If you ever get the chance to explore the fascinating world of arthropods, I highly recommend that you do. Just make sure to share your scorpion scallopini!

Spencer

P.S. By the way, the people that contend that girls hate this kind of thing have clearly never ever been to a bug fair!

16 comments:

olde.fashioned said...

I'm just really glad I declined your offer to accompany you to this torture fest you call a Bug Fair. O.o

I still can't believe you spat out onions and bell peppers, but ate creepy crawlies....

PS. I'm a girl. I hate bugs. And I hate this kind of thing. The end. :-P

Stephanie said...

I seriously think I could puke a little right now. Nasty...

Ipwergis-Pudding said...

"P.S. By the way, the people that contend that girls hate this kind of thing have clearly never ever been to a bug fair!"

And they haven't met me, either.

Although I would NOT like to eat the bugs... it doesn't seem quite fair to eat a critter that's gone in one bite. I mean, a chicken can feed a family, but it would take a handful of crickets to feed one person...

I like how bugs feel... not spiders so much, after waking up with one on my hair once, but beetles, flies, true bugs, etc. Snails feel nice, too, but... they're not bugs...

Ipwergis-Pudding said...

Oh, and I just have to add this... my first gift from a guy... was a cricket.

Yes, a cricket.

I think I may just blog about that...

Ipwergis-Pudding said...

Oh, and one more comment so you can see my new profile picture. Yes, that is a slug. Isn't it cute? :)

Lady Neferankh said...

Oh--whoa--sounds like you had great fun....

PS
As you may already know from your sister, it's always been one of my secret ambitions to taste chocolate dipped crickets.... :P

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Lauren: Hehe... :-D

Steph: Well please don't! I don't want Steph's Hubby after me. If there's one guy I don't want after me, it is Steph's Hubby.

Mariah: The scorpion is bigger than one bite. :-P

And why did you say "true bugs"? I am most seriously pleased and impressed!!!!

LN: I might be able to get you something like that...not sure. Are you interested? I can try. Lemme know.

Spencer

duva said...

Haha! Love the lyrics, what's the original song if I may ask? ;)

Oh, and I have to confess I'm not that fond of bugs either, it's not that I fear them... I just don't want to touch them :P

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Duva: Oh haha, you know exactly where those lyrics are from. :-P

Mariah: Yes that slug is cute! Awww!

Ipwergis-Pudding said...

I like true bugs. Even though I had to kill one for my 9th grade biology class insect collection. :(

But they're really cool... how half their wing is hard, and the other half isn't... they make me happy.

Ipwergis-Pudding said...

Ha ha. I just found a rather large ant running around on my bed. How'd she get there?

And I just learned that it would be easier to catch an ant in a cup than on my hand or on a piece of paper... she wouldn't climb onto my hand (kinda glad; don't want her up my sleeve), and she wouldn't hold still on the notebook. But I got her outside just the same. :)

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

True bugs are awesome, and for knowing that you are also awesome! But you were anyway...so that makes you doubly awesome!

True bugs belong in Order Hemiptera and are the only "bugs" on earth. So, most people's use of the term "bug" is horrifically erroneous.

See here:

http://drpaleophd.blogspot.com/2006/09/lesson-on-insects.html#links

Spencer

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

P.S. Mariah, about the ant, the solution would have been an aspirator, more commonly called a pooter.

;-)

Spencer

Ipwergis-Pudding said...

Nice lesson on insects.

As for me, many of my future students will likely learn to identify true bugs, and to use that term correctly; kids tend to like useful bits of information like that, 'cause they're fun and exciting and mean something in their world. :)

About the ant--I don't have a pooter... and I wasn't about to go find something like that when there was an ant lost on my bed! I was just glad I caught her while she was still on my bed and not in it! Besides, if I was an ant, I think I would prefer running around in a cup than being sucked up through a tube. Poor little (big) ant!

duva said...

Actually I don't know where they are from - I don't listen to catchy songs with horrible lyrics ;P

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Wait--how did you even know what a pooter is?

Spencer