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Old 16-04-2004, 05:50 AM
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Default Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat
Epicures Ready to Make a Meal of High-Pitched Pests

By Cameron W. Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 16, 2004; Page A01

When buzzing hordes of 17-year cicadas rise from the earth next month,
some people will marvel, some will cower, some will shrug their

Jacques Tiziou, a Frenchman-turned-American who lives in a
tree-fringed colonial in Northwest, will gather as many as he can,
eating a few right away and saving the rest for later. Silver-bearded
and gentle of disposition, he speaks in accented English that makes
even bugs sound irresistible.

"You're going to grab one and put it in your mouth alive," he says
with a twinkle in his eye. "You have to."

Tiziou offers a guest two ways of consuming a few of the cicadas he
still has in his freezer from 1987, the year of their last emergence
in the Washington area. Some he sautés, leaving them enrobed in
parsley and butter. And some he presents plain, black things about as
big as the top half of your pinky, wingless but still leggy, on a
little white saucer.

Cicada-eating has a long history on this continent. The original
inhabitants ate them. The current population is less enthralled, or
maybe less hungry. Either way, some people are trying to revive human
cicada consumption.

At Fahrenheit, a restaurant in the Ritz Carlton Hotel, cicadas almost
made the menu this year. "The soft-shelled cicada, it's done just like
a soft-shelled crab," says executive chef Frank Belosic, describing
how freshly molted cicadas should be rolled in flour, pan-fried in
olive oil, and finished with a sauce of white wine, butter and
shallots. Served as an appetizer, the dish would have cost diners $10
or so.

"Higher-ups," Belosic adds, crushed the idea, in order not "to scare
people away."

Such is the hard slog of the enterprising American
entomophage{ndash}the eater of insects. In many parts of the world,
people ingest bugs with regularity and even delight. In Western
countries, insect-eating triggers the gag reflex.

Consider Kara Watkins, a waitress from Modesto, Calif., who consumed
three live potato bugs on an April episode of NBC's "Fear Factor" as
her co-contestants giggled convulsively.

"They were freaky-looking," she says of her six-legged snacks in an
interview on the show's Web site. "They were huge. I didn't want them
to bite me so I bit off their heads first and then popped in their
bodies. They tasted like vomit."

"They're totally in the process of making things look yucky," sighs
David George Gordon, a science writer in Port Townsend, Wash., and the
author of "The Eat-A-Bug Cookbook." For him, insects are items of
haute cuisine, and the cicadas about to emerge in the eastern United
States should be considered a delicacy. "They have a nutty flavor," he
says, "almost like a pistachio nut."

Gordon's cookbook offers a recipe for cicada-topped pizza. As an
accompaniment, he suggests a crisp chardonnay or a semillon blanc. He
also recommends you begin drinking as you cook, "to fortify yourself."

Although Americans are gradually increasing their intentional insect
intake -- a few bug parts get into everything from apple butter to
wheat flour -- the practice remains more a matter of novelty than
nutrition. But when the billions of cicadas belonging to Brood X (the
X stands for 10) leave their underground habitats next month, people
who want to taste a bug may find their garage doors laden with

The brood is one of 15 batches of periodical cicadas, a set of species
unique to the eastern United States. The insects spend 13 or 17 years
underground before emerging into a cacophonous adulthood that lasts
only a few weeks and consists of mating, egg-laying and dying.
Entomologists expect the cicadas to emerge in the District and about
15 states beginning in mid- to late May.

The males will create their trademark din, and cicadas of both sexes
may startle and annoy the people in their midst, but the insects do
not sting or bite. For many birds, mammals and reptiles, the cicadas
will provide weeks of meals.

Experienced cicada-eaters advise would-be entomophages to be alert for
the mass emergence that will begin one May evening, when nymphs -- as
many as 1.5 million per acre -- will crawl out of the soil and head
for a vertical surface, usually a tree.

There they will molt, taking about an hour to squeeze out of their
dust-colored skins. Once they have broken free, it is your moment to
strike: Pluck the creamy white adults off the trees. Gather as many as
you desire for the culinary adventures ahead. Admire their red eyes
and furled wings.

Do hurry. The exoskeletons of the newly molted adults will turn black
within about 12 hours and harden over the next couple days. Once that
happens, the cicadas remain eminently edible but they lose their
soft-shell cachet. They're also easier to apprehend in their
just-molted stage.

If you don't want to eat your cicadas right off the tree, cookbook
author Gordon recommends placing your bounty in the freezer. "It's a
dignified death; they drift off into a deep sleep and never feel any
pain," he says.

With your cicada supply on ice, the options unfold.

Native Americans dry roasted them using fire-heated rocks. John Zyla,
an amateur naturalist in Ridge, in southern St. Mary's County,
suggests laying a few dozen on a cookie sheet and baking them in a
350-degree oven for five minutes.

Then serve with toothpicks and a selection of condiments for dipping,
ranging from sweet to savory: chocolate sauce, honey, melted cheese,
ketchup, mustard. Viola: cicada fondue.

The females, loaded with eggs, are more of a bite than the males,
whose abdomens are largely hollow, in part because of the anatomical
structures that allow them to make noise. Zyla likens the dry-roasted
males to an "air-puffed Cheeto."

Some purists simply boil cicadas for a minute or two, in order to
better appreciate their flavor. Other entomophages recommend
stir-frying them; they will absorb the flavors of the rest of the
dish. Some aficionados like their cicadas battered and deep-fried.

Grubco Inc., a Fairfield, Ohio, company that is one of the nation's
leading suppliers of edible insects, reports that human consumption is
rising. Company President Dale Cochran estimates that he sells 20,000
crickets, mealworms and wax worms every week to people who will eat
the insects themselves or serve them to others. A decade ago, he sold
a quarter as many bugs for human consumption. "It goes in cycles," he
says. "The 'Fear Factor' show has kind of increased demand, and at
Halloween time we get quite a few people ordering them."

"The overall idea of eating insects is probably more widely accepted
than it was 20 years ago in the U.S.," adds Tom Turpin, professor of
entomology at Purdue University and founder of The Bug Bowl, an annual
festival focused on insects that begins today in West Lafayette, Ind.

More than 30,000 people were expected to attend this year's two-day
event, three times the number who showed up five years ago. Thousands
of Bug Bowl-goers consume a stir-fried mealworm or a chocolate-dipped

Still, persuading people to eat a bug isn't easy. "We've all grown up
to think of insects as basically the enemy," says Michael Schauff, a
research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Not so in Asia, where Thais munch on fried grasshoppers and Japanese
eat the rice grasshopper known as hashi, a practice that curbs the
need to use pesticides in the paddies. Africans adore locusts and many
varieties of caterpillars. Many people in Central and South America
consume ants, grasshoppers, stink beetles, and, well, the list is

Bug-eating enthusiasts suggest that Americans should include a few
more insects in their diet. At a time when the safety of many sources
of protein -- from beef to salmon -- is being called into question,
insects offer an alternative. Shrimp and lobsters, part of the same
biological phylum that includes bugs, are essentially sea insects. No
one thinks twice about spreading toast with honey, known among
wise-cracking entomologists as "bee vomit."

"If we broadened our palate," says Gordon, "we'd have a much better
time of surviving in large numbers."

Chez Tiziou, the buffet awaits. "By itself, [a cicada] doesn't have
much taste, you know," he says.

He's right. His delightful parsley-and-garlic butter certainly perks
up a the insect's gastronomic appeal. Served plain, cicadas have more
crunch than flavor.

Once they're in the mouth, the unmistakable feeling is one of
anticlimax. In the end, a cicada is just another creature available
for the eating. And like anything else that's been frozen for 17
years, the plain ones taste like freezer.

.................................................. .

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Old 17-04-2004, 03:57 AM
Blair P. Houghton
Posts: n/a
Default Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

frazer wrote:

Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

Periodicity: 17 years.

"Yes, I was."
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Old 19-04-2004, 01:04 AM
Karl Hungus
Posts: n/a
Default Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

"frazer" wrote in message

Tiziou offers a guest two ways of consuming a few of the cicadas he
still has in his freezer from 1987, the year of their last emergence
in the Washington area.

Good Lord, I lived in the D.C. area (Fairfax County, VA) in '87, and I
remember the cicadas all too well. The racket was absolutely incessant!

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Old 19-04-2004, 01:11 AM
Karl Hungus
Posts: n/a
Default Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

"Blair P. Houghton" wrote in message
frazer wrote:

Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

Periodicity: 17 years.

Yes, that was explained in the article. It kinda sounds like you were
merely looking for an excuse to use a snazzy word like "periodicity."

Color me impressed.

"People who object to weapons aren't abolishing violence, they're begging
for rule by brute force, when the biggest, strongest animals among men were
always automatically 'right.' Guns ended that, and social democracy is a
hollow farce without an armed populace to make it work."
-- L. Neil Smith

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Old 20-04-2004, 04:38 AM
Blair P. Houghton
Posts: n/a
Default Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

Karl Hungus wrote:

"Blair P. Houghton" wrote in message
.. .
frazer wrote:

Cicada: The Other, Other White Meat

Periodicity: 17 years.

Yes, that was explained in the article. It kinda sounds like you were
merely looking for an excuse to use a snazzy word like "periodicity."

It's an internet thing.

Color me impressed.

Midnight Blue.

"Periodicity: 1 newsgroup."

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