The other day as I was wandering down the aisles of our local supermarket looking for those disappearing rolls of toilet paper (not really! we have enough for now) my eyes were drawn to this bright red packet.

I wasn’t sure I was reading right. So I picked it up. Yes. It definitely said crickets. In fact the letter I has been substituted with  a picture of the little crittur.

Now, I have heard about people eating insects. They are readily available in many delectable forms in Asian markets overseas. Some consider them to be the perfect protein substitute. And are going as far as to say that insects will possibly replace meat on our dinner plates. They roam the earth in hordes of billions. So the supply is plentiful. Just how many insects will be required to substitute for a steak I am not sure.

As a wee child I was known to have eaten insects. On at least two occasions. Once, when Mum had gone around the many windows of the building in which we lived as caretakers spraying flies. As she did a second round to scoop up the bodies for burial she wondered what had happened to all the dead ones.  It was not long before she discovered my toddler self had followed in her footsteps merrily munching on the toxic little morsels. To my knowledge I have not indulged in this treat since.

A second occasion I do remember very vividly. It was some years after the fly eating episode. This time the culinary delight I indulged in was the result of a bet with a playmate. He dared me to poke a stick into an anthill. This invasion into their home of course angers the hardworking beasties. They send armies out to tackle the invading marauders. My friend knew this. Possibly not the fine details about the hapless creatures sent on a suicide mission to save their home.  But he knew they would get angry and climb the stick in their hundreds. The bet was that I had to shove the ant laden stick in my mouth and eat as many of them as I could. Always ready for a bit of action, I accepted the challenge. Within seconds of shoving that long green twig into the anthill, it was teeming with angry ants. They sure move fast. Holding the stick sideways, I licked at it, scooping the little black ants into my mouth and chewing them up. Problem was, the live ones climbed onto my hands, my face, my lips, And bit me! So that was the end of that challenge. I am pleased to say I won. My playmate turned coward and ran off, screaming.

The flavour of ants however, is not unpleasant. Lightly acidic. Not dissimilar to eating soursobs from the garden flower bed. Thinking about it even now makes my mouth water. Not with the desire to eat more ants. The thought of the sourness does it. You know, like thinking about sucking on lemons.

Nowadays there is an indigenous restaurant right here in our home town, that sells chocolate covered ants. I have never been there.

However, I digress. Back to the crickets.  Curious, I turned the packet over. Yes, crickets are bred in Sydney for the food industry.  An Australian pproduct then. That in itself is a rarity. I found this information on Google (gotta love Google!!!!)

Entomophagy (insect-eating) has sparked the interest of a new generation of chefs and adventure enthusiasts….

The protein content of cricket powder is 58%, contains no saturated fat and a lot more calcium….

Powders such as cricket powder are very versatile: it could be added to smoothies, baked goods, oats, etc. With a fine texture and slightly nutty taste, the possibilities of use are endless…..

What with China in the grips of coronavirus meltdown, many products are in scarce supply. Exactly what impact this will have on our food industry is as yet not clear. However, cricket powder could well become a food staple gracing the shelves of our home pantries in the near future if doomsday preppers keep emptying the shelves of other edibles.  I did not succumb to buying any. This time. But I know it is there. Waiting. Somehow I doubt it will be a fast selling item.

Would you like some cricket biscuits? Fresh out of the oven…..

Raili Tanska

Be open to experimenting

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