Cicada Salad, Anyone? | God's World News

Cicada Salad, Anyone?

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    Zach Lemann makes recipes with cicadas at the Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The insectarium serves other insect dishes at the in-house snack bar. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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    Children line up to taste cooked insects at the Audubon Insectarium. (AP/Gerald Herbert)
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    Would you try cooked cicadas? (AP/Aurelien Morissard)
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An invasion of cicadas is coming this summer. Once the ground warms to 64° Fahrenheit, two broods that hatch once every 13 and 17 years will surface. The insects, along with annual cicadas, will emerge from the soil and spread across 16 American states.

Some scientists say they will average around one million bugs per acre. Their buzzy cacophony will fill areas in the Midwest and South. The broods may overlap in central Illinois. Many folks say that if you run with your mouth open during the peak, you’ll probably end up eating bugs. Some chefs think that’s a fine prospect.

It turns out these trillions of red-eyed creatures could make a tasty snack. The Audubon Insectarium in New Orleans, Louisiana, already serves an array of insect treats at its Bug Appétit café. “Cinnamon Bug Crunch,” chili-fried waxworms, and crispy, cajun-spiced crickets are among the menu items. Now staff hatch ideas for cicada dishes.

The Insectarium’s curator of animal collections is Zack Lemann. He donned a chef’s smock last week to show off a few of his recipes. They include a green salad with apple, almonds, blueberry vinaigrette—and cicadas. Fried cicada nymphs were dressed on top with a warm mixture of creole mustard and soy sauce.

“I do dragonflies in a similar manner,” Lemann says. He uses tweezers to plop nymphs into a container of flour before cooking them in hot oil.

Depending on the type and the way they are prepared, cooked cicadas taste similar to toasted seeds or nuts. The Insectarium isn’t the first to promote the idea of eating them. Over the years, the insects have appeared on a smattering of menus and in cookbooks.

Jenna Jadin was a graduate student at the University of Maryland when she and fellow “cicadamaniacs” wrote Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas in 2004.

Jadin told Washingtonian that young grubs are the most tasty to eat because they haven’t yet developed a hard exterior. These wriggling morsels can be found only when they’re coming out of the ground in the evening. Plan on harvesting after 9:00 or 10:00 p.m.

The last time a double brood of cicadas toured was when Thomas Jefferson was president in 1803. He mistakenly called the creatures locusts, but cicadas are less harmful. They don’t cause major crop damage like locusts do.

If the thought of swarms of cicadas freaks you out, think like a chef. Just stick a fork in them.