If your image of bugs as food remains comfortably plated in the novelty realm — grub worm lollipops, chocolate-covered ants, Anthony Bourdain popping a few grasshopper snacks here and there — you need to meet Monica Martinez of Don Bugito (get her fantastic video after the jump).
Martinez is not serving up the typical sensationalized, candied-bug affairs. She says her dishes are inspired by her native Mexico, where bugs were part of pre-Hispanic cuisine. Martinez wants you to learn to love bugs, so she treats them with carne asada respect. As Martinez describes it, she creates “amazing dishes that simply happen to have an unexpected ingredient.” Think tacos made with handmade blue corn tortillas filled with wax moth larvae sautéed with garlic/pasilla peppers and served with red pickled onions, herb salsa and queso fresco (photo above).
The idea came from an art project-turned-micro farm in her backyard. Martinez says she wanted a cow, but it was too big for her San Francisco backyard — so she designed a worm high-rise instead. But Martinez tells it so much better than we do in her video, which is currently on Kickstarter. She is raising start-up funds with the hopes of building a mobile bug cart (donations must be made by Friday, April 27, to reach her $40,000 goal).
And yes, Martinez sounds well aware that selling insects to those accustomed to a very different kind of ground meat in their burgers is not going to be easy. But she has a pretty clever business plan (and the support of the women-in-business nonprofit La Cocina).
First she'll take the cart to San Francisco history museums, schools and wherever else she can spread the local insect taco love. Down the road, she hopes, those tasting carts serving up toffee mealworms over vanilla ice cream with cactus syrup will make ice cream truck-hour appearances in other cities. Besides, where else with a $250 pledge are you going to get a kit to learn to grow your own mealworms, complete with recipes?
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