News

Go ahead, eat a bug

By ELIZABETH CIEPIELA

Staff writer

At the University of Washington, David Gordon’s colleagues knew him as a science writer. But after he was whisked away by a limo sent by the USA cable television network, they began to suspect something was up.

Gordon’s mission was to cook bug dishes on TV. As it turns out, Gordon is much more than a naturalist, a biologist and a recipient of journalism awards. He is a bug-cooking and eating enthusiast.

“I like to show people bugs are more than something you swat at,” Gordon said.

He said people have a very narrow perspective of what to eat, and he likes to broaden their horizons. Entomaphogy is the practice of eating bugs, Gordon said, and many cultures do it.

And for that reason, Gordon — dressed in a blue apron and a chef’s hat with green, glittery bug antennas attached — showed a group of children how to prepare and eat three insect dishes at the Woodmont Public Library last Wednesday. One of the dishes featured a lightly grilled shish kabob of marinated grasshopper bits — legs, thorax and heads — nestled between slices of mushrooms and peppers.

“The bottom is really good,” Gordon told the kids, “but I like the heads the best. They’re really crunchy.”

David Allen, 8, tried a grasshopper kabob. He said the grasshoppers “were hard on the outside and chewy on the inside.” He liked the kabobs and said grasshopper tastes like chicken.

Gordon travels the country teaching people how to eat and prepare bugs. He first became interested in bug eating while researching and writing his first book, “The Compleat Cockroach.” He came across 100-year-old cockroach recipes from England and soon discovered that many cultures eat insect delicacies.

Gordon said he spent a summer experimenting with bug cuisine. He found his dishes tasty and published them in the “Eat-A-Bug Cookbook.”

Gordon told the kids that many common household items — such as ketchup, jams, jellies and lipstick — may contain bug bits. Some fruit juices obtain their coloring from carmine — essentially, dried bugs. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published guidelines for the allowable limits of insects in food.

Another dish Gordon prepared at the library with the kids’ help was Super Worm Tempura — salted mealworms dipped in tempura batter and fried on a wok in hot oil.

“It tastes like popcorn,” one boy said.

“You get those at Petco?” another boy asked after trying the worms. “I’m gonna get some of those.”

Gordon said that at home, he prepares insect dishes about “once every two weeks.” One of his favorites is Orthopteran Orzo, or sauteed crickets in orzo pasta.

He said he also “really likes” silkworms. “They eat mulberry leaves, so they taste kind of fruity.”

Gordon’s mission is his passion, and his schedule is relentless. In a few weeks, he will be cooking up bugs in Times Square in New York City.

“Eat-A-Bug Cookbook” is selling well and garnered a five-star rating on amazon.com. One reviewer wrote the book is “the ideal gift for your mother-in-law.”

Staff writer Elizabeth Ciepiela: 925-5565, eciepiela@fedwaymirror.com

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