#273 Eat Insects

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I don’t like insects as much as the next guy. I’m not terrified of them but I’m not snuggling up with them at night in bed either. At least, not to my knowledge.

When I see spiders in my apartment, I don’t kill them. Yes, I’m one of those guys who says, “But the spiders eat all the other insects!” I know everyone hates people who say that. I don’t care. Me and the spiders in my apartment have a mutual understanding. They kill all the other insects and don’t crawl on my face and I leave them alone.

Any other insect, I don’t like and will KOS (that’s kill-on-sight). I’m man enough to admit that sometimes I still get the willies killing bugs. I mean, what if their guts squirt onto your face? Or you miss and they run up your arm and into your ear Wrath of Khan style? No thanks.

Given that I don’t eat a lot of meat, I have been doing a lot of reading on alternative protein sources. Of course there are always the vegetable protein sources like beans. But I’ve heard a lot lately about eating insects.

It makes sense. They’re easy to raise, nutritious and cheap. However, there’s the fact that, well, they’re fucking insects and look gross.

But aren’t shrimp just giant bugs anyway? Giant delicious bugs? In a way, shrimp are grosser than insects because they are scavengers. Yet they taste amazing with some lemon and cocktail sauce.

A quick google search of insect serving restaurants in LA came up with the Typhoon Restaurant located at the Santa Monica Airport. It was rated decently enough and they served three types of insects: scorpions, crickets and larvae. It was on.

I wanted to bring somebody along for the adventure. Chrystine, a coworker and friend of mine as well as a reader of SYED, was all for it as long as she didn’t have to eat bugs. Hmm. We’ll see about that…

The restaurant itself was pretty cool. Located on the third story of a building overlooking the Santa Monica Airport which is an airport for small, private and chartered planes. We sat down and ordered the scorpion shrimp toast, crickets and some “regular” food. I opted out of the larvae just because I thought it would be too much food, especially since Chrystine wasn’t going to be partaking in the insect feast.

The scorpion toast arrived first. It was two pieces of shrimp toast with two tiny scorpions on top. “I thought it’d be bigger,” Chrystine said. If only I had a dollar for every time a woman said that me. It looked pretty creepy but I picked up a piece and bit right into it. I mostly tasted the shrimp toast and a bit of crunchiness from the scorpion. I had bitten the thing in half, the front body remained. This time I pulled the rest of the scorpion off and ate it by itself. It was crunchy without much flavor.

“Aren’t you going to eat one?” I asked Chrystine, not really expecting her to. To my surprise, she looked like she was seriously considering it, despite her intense fear of insects. I reassured her it wasn’t gross, that it was a mental thing. After a few minutes of deliberation, she picked up the toast and bit into it, consuming the scorpion tail. She chewed and swallowed. She flipped out a little bit. She drank water and accidentally ate a hot pepper to get the taste out of her mouth but she did it. I was so proud. A little SYED protegé.

The next course was the crickets which were fried with little potato strings. This looked a little more intimidating because there were so many of them. I could almost imagine them writhing on the plate. But at the same time I was pretty hungry and when I’m hungry I’ll eat almost anything.

I took a big spoonful to start. Again, they were crunchy and I mostly tasted the potatoes. Then I tried one on its own. The cricket had a somewhat nutty flavor. It was actually kind of good. I ate most of the rest of it, saving a few crickets for Chrystine. But Chrystine looked like she was done with insects for the night.

After awhile, the waiter came by to take our plates. “Last chance for the crickets,” I said, full expecting Chrystine to pass. But she didn’t. She told the waiter to leave the plate. She cleared out a space in front of her (in case she freaked out), picked up a cricket and popped it in her mouth. She even chewed it!

I was so happy that Chrystine had scared herself. This blog is obviously all about me, but when I can share some of my experiences with somebody else, and even get them to scare themselves, it becomes all the more satisfying. I’ve had readers write me and tell me how I’ve inspired them to scare themselves which is amazing, but seeing it first hand is just that much cooler.

Overall, the insects were pretty good. I don’t know if I’ll ever say to myself, “Man, I’m really in the mood for crickets today” but if someone put a plate of them in front of me, I’d dive right in.

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