Pro­tein of the fu­ture

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING -

AN ar­ti­sanal pasta- maker in north­east­ern France is strug­gling to meet de­mand af­ter adding a crunchy, pro­tein- rich in­gre­di­ent to the noo­dles.

“The name of the in­gre­di­ent may be a turnoff, but it's re­ally de­li­cious, es­pe­cially with game meat,” smiles Alain Li­mon as he spreads cricket- flavoured fusilli on a dry­ing rack.

Li­mon, 52, is the only em­ployee at the Ate­lier a Pates ( Pasta Work­shop) in Thiefosse, north­east­ern France.

His boss Stephanie Richard be­gan her home­made pasta busi­ness in 2012, and is now hir­ing again thanks to the suc­cess of her lat­est cre­ations made from in­sect flour.

“The in­sect is the pro­tein of the fu­ture,” Richard says. “It’s pro­tein of high qual­ity that is well di­gested by the body.”

In fact, a 2013 by the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion ( FAO) noted the “huge po­ten­tial” of in­sects, for feed­ing not only peo­ple but also live­stock.

In­sects are al­ready a com­mon food in many de­vel­op­ing coun­tries across Asia, Africa, Latin Amer­ica and Ocea­nia.

Some Euro­pean cheeses also con­tain or use in­sects, like France's mi­mo­lette, whose grey crust is the re­sult of cheese mites in­ten­tion­ally in­tro­duced to add flavour, or the Sar­dinian casu marzu, which con­tains live in­sect lar­vae.

For Richard's unique pas­tas, she uses pul­verised crick­ets and grasshop­pers, some­times mix­ing the two, and some­times mix­ing ground cepes with cricket flour.

“There's a kind of nutty taste thanks to the cepes, mak­ing it taste more like whole wheat pasta,” Richard says.

She was de­vel­op­ing a high- pro­tein pasta for ath­letes when an in­sect dis­trib­u­tor in east­ern Lyon con­tacted her.

Sold on the idea, she be­gan pro­duc­ing pasta made from in­sect flour in time for the De­cem­ber hol­i­days, and around 500 pack­ages flew off her shelves.

“The prod­uct piqued the cu­rios­ity and had great suc­cess,” says Richard, who is also a part­time French teacher.

Whole eggs are added to a mix­ture of 7% in­sect flour to 93% or­ganic spelt wheat flour, pro­duc­ing a brown­ish pasta that is shaped into ra­di­a­tori, fusilli, spaghetti and penne.

At first Richard made plain fresh egg pasta be­fore di­ver­si­fy­ing her pro­duc­tion while keep­ing it strictly within the culi­nary tra­di­tions of the Lor­raine re­gion, us­ing wild gar­lic, net­tles and safran, for ex­am­ple.

All of her in­gre­di­ents were from Lor­raine ex­cept du­rum semolina, which Richard says is in­com­pat­i­ble with the cli­mate.

Four years on with the ad­di­tion of in­sect flour to the mix, “it's work­ing so well that we will soon be able to hire a se­cond per­son,” Richard says, proud of her weekly pro­duc­tion now at some 400kg.

And she does not plan to stop there she is work­ing on a new recipe us­ing Maroilles cheese from north­ern France, and plans to start mak­ing stuffed pas­tas.

At a lit­tle over RM27 for a 250g pack­age, in­sect flour pas­tas are more ex­pen­sive than stan­dard kinds, but Richard notes that they can re­place meat for veg­e­tar­i­ans – or for peo­ple who pre­fer crick­ets.

“Peo­ple with iron or mag­ne­sium de­fi­cien­cies will also eat th­ese prod­ucts,” she says. – AFP Re­laxnews

An em­ployee of the fac­tory mak­ing a spe­cial pasta with flour of in­sects. — AFP

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