Sunday, July 26, 2009

Picnics, Salad Days & a bite at Entomophagy

Remember yesterday when I told you I was going on a picnic for my nephew's birthday? Okay, hold that though...Now think a moment and see if you can remember when I mentioned National Salad Week. It was the day before. Well, it seems I may have made an error. You see, National Salad Week begins the fourth week in July and if my calendar serves me correctly, that would be today!!!

Back to the picnic. As it turned out, our family picnic quickly became a barbecue once everyone decided they would much rather plop in my sister's backyard than drive all the way to Heckscher State Park. Personally, I would have preferred going to Heckscher. I have fond memories of Heckscher State Park. Not only is it the home of the first beach where I learned how to sail a Catamaran, it is also the berth of my first place Hobie Cat race trophy. (I won first place in a novice race:)And, it was my very best favorite place to hike out across the bay to the infamous OBI and Fire Island. With Cherry Grove as my destination, I was often a spectator at The Miss Fire Island Contest. There was lots of dancing @ both destinations and this "girl" loves to dance:) Ah, those were the days:)

Before I get all caught up in my "salad days of yore," let me get this "pesky" Confetti Salad recipe situated for National Salad Week.

Confetti Salad
With colors of red, white, and green, this is a happy salad, almost to pretty to eat.
1 cup cooked crickets
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 celery, finely chopped
1/4 cup pimiento-stuffed olives, finely chopped
1/4 cup green pepper
1/4 cup pimiento, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 tbs. mayonnaise
1 tbs. lemon juice
2 tomatoes, cut in wedges
1/2 cup French dressing
In a large bowl, combine crickets, rice, celery, olives, green pepper, pimiento and onion. Cover and chill. Just before serving, mix salt, pepper and mayonnaise in a smaller bowl. Toss with cricket mixture. Add lemon juice and mix again. Spoon mixture on lettuce and garnish with tomato wedges. Serve with French dressing.
Basic Cooked Insects:
1 cup cleaned insects
2 cups water
1 tsp. salt
2 dashes pepper
1 tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. sage
2 tbs. onion, finely chopped
Place ingredients in medioum size saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 30 minutes or until tender.

So, I figured out what to do with all those pesky insects that intruded on the picnic that almost was. Toss them in the salad!!! Whew! I'm glad I got that out of the way. Fried dragonfly, anyone? hehehe...got cha!!!

The "delectable" recipe for Confetti Salad was dug up one night while I was paging through a book titled Entertaining with Insects Or; The Original Guide to Insect Cookery by Ronal L. Taylor and Barbara J. Carter and illustrated by John Gregory Tweed. I said it was Salad Week. I didn't say what was going to be in the salad I was preparing for the occasion. Oh now, don't get in a huff. Insects in your food shouldn't come as too much of a surprise. Chances are, you "noshed" on an insect in the past few days and didn't even know it. And, according to the FDA, it's quite acceptable.

You may not be in the habit of dining on insects and I may not be accustomed to having Beetle Sausage sizzling on the grill however, the custom of eating insects is well documented in the early writings of most cultures. While we may think of them as pests, insects are prized for their nutritional value and tastiness. Yes, as in delish! Sure, we have hot dog day and hamburger day. Heck, nearly everyday we have a food to celebrate. Well just what would happen if I decided to call a day Eating Bug Day? Oh not today, we're just diving into Salad Week. I'll surprise you!!!

A person who is an “entomophage” (en-tem-o-fozh) is a “bug-eater”. Many people around the world eat insects. Some just eat bugs as a tasty snack, but others eat insects as an important part of their diet. Not all insects taste good, and some are even poisonous! There are over 1,462 species of edible insects in the world. In Algeria, the people eat desert locusts cooked in salt water. Australian Aborigines eat cooked witchety grubs and honeypot ants. The Japanese eat fried grasshoppers and cicadas. In Nigeria, the west Africans eat roasted termites and crickets. These insects are a good source of nutrition and are easy to find. They take up less space and are less expensive to feed than grazing animals like cows. Many species of insects are even higher in protein than beef, pork, and chicken. Have you ever eaten a bug? Living in the United States, most people will never deliberately eat an insect. But you will consume over a pound of insects in your lifetime! Many foods that we eat have insects and insect parts in them that we can’t see. The Food and Drug Administration publishes a list of food standards called the “Food Defect Action Levels.” These standards set the maximum acceptable levels of insects allowed in food products. It is almost impossible to grow crops in open fields, harvest, and process them without some insects getting mixed in. To keep all insects out of our food, farmers would have to increase the frequency and potency of the pesticides that they use. This would be dangerous to people who consumed the products. PDF file

Insects taken into the stomach, may generally be destroyed by taking a small quantity of vinegar and salt. When insects get into the ears, use a little salad oil, or melted lard. Domestic Cookery, Useful Receipts, and Hints to Young Housekeepers by Elizabeth E. Lea

Just think, there was a time our "duty" was to be the live in exterminator. I know this to be true because, many of the vintage cookbooks in my collection include a chapter which lists the assorted ways of disposing of Insects and Vermin. How many times have you asked yourself, "Will I ever solve my Garden Pest Problem??" I know for a fact Chef Tom has asked himself this question at least once. Jady from Thyme Goes By awaits her next visitor with great anticipation. What about you? Here's another question. Are you an adventurous eater? Take the Omnivore’s Hundred survey and find out for yourself. Don't worry, it's safe:) Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting we start using insects as food. Heck, most of the western world wouldn't dream of doing such a thing. What I am asking, is for you to let me share a few recipe ideas for cooking with insects. How bad can that be? We'll share some Ant Tacos (or whatever is locally available; locusts, snails perhaps?) followed by some Sweet Treat Insect Recipes. Feel like taking a quick trip to Connecticut College to sample some delicacies? No. That's okay, I don't blame you for your hesitation. Others have hesitated because of the "fear factor." Instead, let's watch the video.

I have a sneaking suspicion it's just about that time to really contemplate the nutritional value of insects. Are insects good for you? That's an important question these days along with value. Does a 100g Emperor moth have more protein than a 100g chicken? According to Cornell University, it certainly does. graphic PDF file

Well, enough is enough. We wouldn't want to become gluttonous bug eaters now would we. From Entertaining with Insects:

This cookbook, which is the outgrowth of an earlier book by one of the present authors, Ronald L. Taylor, entitled Butterflies in My Stomach or Insects in Human Nutrition. That work's scope and intention are broader and, in a sense, more serious. Briefly summarized, it shows that numerous insects are cleaner than many of the animals man regularly eats, there are no special religious prohibitions against the eating of insects as such, insects have been eaten throughout man's history and are eaten today, certain insects are relished and regarded as delicacies by civilized as well as primitive societies, insects are likely to be the most reliable source of animal food for the individual lost in the wilderness, insects play significant roles as therapeutic agents in man's drug arsenal, and, perhaps most important, insects are clearly a nutritious source of human food. As the book makes clear, insect eating (entomophagy) is not inherently abhorrent or unnatural-in fact, quite the contrary-for insects are a perfectly acceptable alternative source of food for man. Entertaining with Insects (1976)
"If all insects disappeared from the Earth, in 50 years time, there would be no life; 
but if all people disappeared from Earth, in 50 years time life would flourish."

1. Bert Christensen's Weird & Different Recipes
2. Lots of recipes @ the Bug Blox
3. Bug Girl’s Blog
4. Weird Foods: Bugs
5. The Audubon Insectarium
6. Bay Area Bug Eating Society
7. Eating insects with Heston
8. NOVA documentary
9. Insects on the menu (restaurant)
10. National Salad Week (UK)