Cook­ing Ci­cadas

That's China - - That's China 城市漫步 -

Hu­mankind have been eat­ing ci­cadas for cen­turies, it seems. Eaten skew­ered, deep-fried or stir-fried, they are known to have been en­joyed as far back as An­cient Greece as well as in China, Malaysia, Burma, Latin Amer­ica and the Congo. Aside from its value as a de­li­cious snack, the high pro­tein con­tent and medic­i­nal value of the ci­cada shell has long been recog­nised by the Chi­nese peo­ple, who be­lieve that ci­cadas can in­vig­o­rate the kid­ney and strengthen ‘yang’ (the ‘qi’ of men). No won­der the price for a kilo of pro­cessed ci­cadas has topped 130 yuan! Re­cently, the United Na­tions’ Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­gan­i­sa­tion re­leased a re­port hint­ing that ed­i­ble in­sects could be con­sid­ered one of the so­lu­tions to the global food short­age. Dubbed “shrimp of the land”, pe­ri­od­i­cal ci­cadas such as the Magi­ci­cada from North Amer­ica, spend 17 years slowly grow­ing un­der­ground and feed­ing on tree roots, be­fore burst­ing out in large num­bers. His­tor­i­cally eaten by Na­tive Amer­i­cans, mod­ern chefs have cre­ated in­no­va­tive ways of de­vour­ing the bug. For those who feel squea­mish when think­ing about eat­ing a ci­cada on a stick, other al­ter­na­tives have emerged such as ci­cada-flavoured ice cream, or used as an in­gre­di­ent in dishes such as tacos, pizza, sushi or tossed in a salad.

nd In 2011, a Mis­souri ice cream store pro­duced an in­trigu­ing ci­cada fla­vored batch that sold out in no time, as peo­ple were ea­ger to give the un­usual treat a try.When the store went to make their sec­ond batch, lo­cal health of­fi­cials ex­pressed their con­cerns even though bi­ol­o­gists re­port the bug as ed­i­ble, so the fla­vor was dis­con­tin­ued. Low-carb and gluten-free, the crunchy beady-eyed snack is suit­able in small doses, but those with shell­fish al­ler­gies are told to stay away as they may also be al­ler­gic to ci­cadas.While male ci­cadas are known for their singing abil­i­ties, the fe­male ci­cada is prized to be meatier as they can be slightly big­ger. Aside from ci­cadas, other in­sects po­ten­tially sav­ing us from star­va­tion also in­clude bee­tles, but­ter­fly larva, bees, ants and lo­custs. In 2004, "ci­cada" ranked 6th in Mer­riam-Web­ster's Words of the Year.

Deep-fried ci­cada, a Chi­nese del­i­cacy

Sparky’s Home­made Ice Cream in Columbia, Mis­souri Ci­cada peanut but­ter cups from "A Cook's Guide" (Mar­i­lyn Po­cius).

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