Digging into the latest culinary trend, “entomophagist,” or bug-eating expert, Martin expounds upon the “ecological, nutritional, economic, global and culinary” benefits of consuming insects.
The author’s interest in eating insects began when she was studying pre-Columbian food and medicine in Mexico, where she intentionally ate her first bug. Later, she read a galvanizing article detailing a bug cook-off between insect chefs in Virginia. “The article discussed new research on insects as a possible global food source, a potential solution to world hunger, and an eco-friendly alternative to beef and other livestock,” she writes. The author’s conversational style blends science, popular culture and personal insights, and she chronicles her interviews with a host of bug-cuisine promoters, including chefs, environmental consultants and entomologists. Martin also discusses her visits to a pop-up food market in San Francisco; a lab in Holland devoted to studying “the potential of edible insects as a food source for humans and animals,” and a fried-insect stall in Thailand. The author deconstructs the various tastes and textures encountered while munching on insects—e.g., crickets are nutty; bee larvae resemble bacon-chanterelles; giant water bugs emit the scent of a crisp green apple. Overall, insects possess a generally nutty taste, which blooms when roasted. Rich in minerals, their exoskeletons provide a pleasing crunch. For those seeking new culinary adventures, Martin includes helpful tips for raising bugs at home, an essential list of edible insects, cooking basics, and recipes for preparing a host of delights, including wax moth tacos, salty-sweet wax worms, sweet-and-spicy summer June bugs and cricket-y kale salad. Never didactic, Martin gently nudges readers toward open-mindedness at the prospect of eating bugs: “Why not make the best of what we have the most of?”
Regardless of readers’ culinary proclivities, Martin’s lively book poses timely questions while offering tasty solutions.