A pot luck–style dinner at the house of local edible-bug blogger Aly Moore served as an introduction to eating insects for about a dozen people. The menu featured mealworm Massaman curry, smoked cricket avocado toast, cricket powder–infused lentils and dessert-ish cricket-cajeta cookies.
The sautéed tomato hornworm, which spent its life gorging on leaves of the tomato plant, looks exactly like the plump caterpillar from a children's book. But tonight, the typically wiggly grub is quite literally grub, unmoving and shiny with olive oil. I grabbed one, still sizzling, out of the pan, dropped it in my mouth and chewed.
“Not bad,” I thought as the worm's chlorophyll-saturated body burst with a bite. If not for the texture, I could have been eating a bean sprout. Or maybe a fried green tomato. Some people even tasted a hint of soft-shell crab or shrimp.
But this was not extreme eating for extreme eating's sake. The private dinner held last week was the first unofficial gathering of L.A.'s contribution to a small but growing international movement of scientists, chefs, farmers, sustainability advocates and food fanatics who see edible insects as a future food, one that Western culture must quickly embrace in order to accommodate the needs of a growing world population.