Minnesota Musing: My Experiences Eating Bugs and Weeds
My Mother Was a Culinary Adventurer
Weeds are green plants that grow in places that they weren't manually put. In other words, the wind blew a seed to that spot, the rain drenched it just right, the sun beamed down a time or two, and the little speck of life inside that little seed decided to germinate and grow. These are the plants that I am debating about consuming.
I come by this trait honestly. My mother was one of the original pioneer-type women who wanted to experience rough, adventuresome culinary trails (well, plant-wise, at any rate). I'm more of a bug person.
Yeah, a Bug Person!
It interests me to someday try many different types of food. As I recall, I have read books that proclaimed people eat grasshoppers with honey. These people, as I believe, put raw grasshoppers in their mouths. Now, I'm leery of doing that, since those grasshoppers spit out a brown substance when you pick them up. We used to call it tobacco juice when I was a kid, some 40 years ago.
So, for me to even consider eating a grasshopper, I would need to cook it somehow. Somewhere online, someone was talking about the pros and cons of eating grasshoppers. Apparently, there are things that they carry when they are raw. I'd have to look up what they were. Cooking them is safer, apparently.
My Bug-Eating Experiences
My first experience with eating bugs came when I was about five years old. There were some little red ants on the sidewalk and on the steps next to me. I think the kid that I was sitting with picked up an ant and started chewing it. Not to be outdone, I also picked up an ant and put it in my mouth.
The flavor of a red ant is sour. Way back when, I ate that ant. Then, six years later, I was telling someone about the experience, and being a daring kid of 11 years, I picked up yet another red ant and popped it in my mouth.
Years later, I came to find out that the actual reason that red ants are sour tasting is that their flavor comes from formic acid. Yes. That's where formic acid comes from—red ants. Need I add that formic acid is not something that a human should be consuming? In fact, apparently, formic acid has been suggested to cause brain damage. That explains everything, doesn't it?
Do Red Ants and Black Ants Taste Different?
I did try a black ant, just for a taste comparison. Needless to say, I only ate one black ant—it was not as tasty as a red ant. In fact, the memory of the flavor escapes me, but one fact remains from the experience. Black ants do not like to be chewed. I think the ant did fight back and bite my tongue. I'm not going to pop another ant in my mouth to qualify my story, but I only ate one.
I recall, in my fifth year on this earth, that a bee tried to enter my mouth on its own free will, buzzing around until my father swooshed it away with some sort of paper object—probably the newspaper.
I killed a wasp the other day, as was seriously musing about what flavor it would be. It didn't move very far from where I smooshed it. I did manage to take a picture of it. It was full of bug spray and was spinning in a circle, so the flavor would probably have been whatever flavor insect spray is. My assumption would be that the flavor would be some bitter, yucky flavor that I would regret consuming.
Bees Are Eaten in Other Places
Aren't bees supposed to be tasty? Or, is the hype of eating fried bees just hype? Is it like one of those exclusive things like trying a deep-fried banana or deep-fried macaroni and cheese?
I'm truly not sure where my motivation is. I picked a bunch of weeds the other day in my garden and of course, when I looked up a description of them, I was greeted by pages and pages of text exclaiming what virtues they possessed.
I did pick some weeds, and two things happened. I threw them in a bucket but got inspired to do some sort of comical picture of a line of weeds being forced to walk out of my garden. The picture included me standing by the edge of the garden with a firm look on my face and pointing "out" of the garden.
I also mused about a picture of my same garden with about twenty rabbits laying on the ground next to it, their bellies so full of whatever they were munching o and miserable because they ate too much. Hard to feel sorry for them in situations like that. Those rabbits did it to themselves!
Some Facts and Opinions That I Will Share Now
- Fact Number 1: a mouthful of spiders has more protein in it than a mouth full of cooked chicken. I'm not sure why, but many of the people that I have shared that fact with have made comments about preferring chicken. I don't know how they could know that they prefer chicken. I can't say I prefer chicken. Preferring means that I have tried spiders and I have facts for consideration in making a choice. I have not.
- Fact Number 2: Purslane is supposed to be full of omega-3, that wonder drug that cures pain and inflammation. If it weren't for the fact that I have read that it has a diuretic effect and causes diarrhea, I would try it. I have seen recipes for salads and pickled leaves but have not been brave enough to try it.
- Fact Number 3: One year, I planted a Meclun Mix of lettuce. The only problem that I found was that, although I got a lot of odd-looking plants like the package promised, the weeds in my garden looked strangely similar, and I don't think it's safe to start chewing on just anything in the garden. Do you know what I mean?
- Opinion: I have a problem with planting certain colors of tomatoes as well. We like to eat red tomatoes, but there are some varieties of tomatoes that turn bright yellow or blackish/maroon when they are ripe. Tomatoes, to me, are one of those items that, unless it smells okay and looks okay, I have a hard time putting it in my mouth. Red tomatoes that aren't rotten are delicious. Food poisoning from a rotten tomato is horrible, and the worst of it is that you don't know how a tomato tastes until you put it in your mouth. By then, it's too late.
Safe Weeds and Bugs
I'm sure that there are plenty of bugs that run into our mouths when we sleep. We'd probably be quite shocked at how many we have already consumed. But, I'm talking about free will and choice here.
Care to share what you've tried and how the flavor was and if you make a regular habit of it?
This reminds me of nightcrawlers, those long worms that come out and eat leaves at night after a rain storm. I have heard that you can cook them like in a frying pan and make pieces of worm that taste like bacon bits. Does that make your teeth hurt just a little? I have heard of people who use them like green beans in green bean casserole. Again, I'm not adventurous enough to try them.