In which countries do people eat beetles?

10.06.2003

We encourage ourselves: insects are no more disgusting than what you normally eat ...
Is it generally disgusting to eat insects just because they are not eaten in Europe? Hardly likely. If you take a closer look, you will notice that European eating habits are no more appetizing or even healthier than those in other parts of the world. Habit decides what is perceived as "disgusting" or "tasty". This can easily be demonstrated by contrasting what is familiar and what is unfamiliar to the Central European:

Not for everyone unusual body parts of animals. The most attractive meat for Central Europeans is muscle meat. Non-European customs such as eating animal eyes or chicken feet are met with incomprehension. But exotic body parts are also part of the kitchen in Europe, for example offal such as liver, kidney or lungs. Possibly even more exotic are the brain (often in the form of cervelatwurst) or beef tongue and pork snouts. The custom of consuming the blood of an animal (as blood sausage) is also widespread, which is categorically rejected in several cultures.

Usually there will be no raw animal products consumed. The Central European turns away with horror when he hears of the Thai custom of eating raw monkey brains. And completely forgets the normal chopped raw meat (ground meat, tartare), raw fish (including matjes herring), fish eggs (a special delicacy) or raw chicken eggs (e.g. in eggnog and tiramisu).

Also the Form of preparation plays a big role in judging food. How terrible do the Europeans look at banana beer (pombe) and millet beer (merissa), which are traditionally made in Africa by chewing the raw materials (the starch is digested in the process). Sometimes the saliva is also added by spitting. In Vietnam there is a popular sauce made from fermented fish and seafood. In Japan, miso, a condiment made from moldy grain and soybean meal, is used. Soy sauce, a product made from fermented soybeans, is widespread throughout East Asia. In parts of Southeast Asia, you can also find hatched bird eggs, a meal for special occasions.
As terrible as it sounds to the European: he uses the same methods and lets food "grow old" and "spoil". For example, he has a weakness for fermented plants (sauerkraut, pickles) and old, hung meat.
Asians are already not enthusiastic about fresh milk. Much worse in their eyes is the consumption of spoiled milk in the form of sour cream, kefir, yoghurt, cheese or even moldy cheese.

But nothing can be more disgusting than eating the swallows' nests, which are very popular in China, which are made from the hardened saliva of birds. A Excretion of an animal: something like this is not eaten in Europe. Except for milk and honey. Forest honey in particular is even excreted by two animals before humans ingest it, namely by the aphid and then by the bees.

The custom, To eat animals alive, triggers particular horror in many. In Korea, for example, freshly caught octopuses are chopped alive. The still wriggling parts are served on a plate with a sauce. The Europeans are also familiar with the consumption of live animals, e.g. fresh oysters or dying lobsters thrown into boiling water.

Last but not least, it is a matter of getting used to which animal one eats. Mussels, frogs or even horses are eaten in Europe, but by no means by everyone. Europeans frown on guinea pigs (food in South America), and predators such as dogs (valued in China) or e.g. the civet cat, which has just gained sad fame in southern China as a presumed natural host of the SARS virus. On the other hand, the pork, valued by Europeans, is considered inedible, e.g. in Islamic countries.
It should be noted that a great variety of animals serve as food for people all over the world. Among other things, insects.

The self-experiment
Now that it is clear that eating from insects triggers a feeling of disgust solely because of a lack of habituation, the next step is consequently to get used to it. So a meal with insects was planned.

The first step, of course, was to acquire insects. The choice fell on zophoba larvae. Zophoba morio are native American relatives of the black beetle. Their larvae look like larger versions of the mealworm. While zophobas themselves are rarely eaten by humans, they are similar to many species that are used as food in large parts of the world.



Zophoba meal
(See text for recipe)

As popular food animals (especially for lizards), zophoba can easily be purchased in pet shops or on so-called insect fairs.
They were prepared as follows:


Wash the zophobia larvae with cold water to clean them up and reduce their agility. Then kill the larvae by scalding them with boiling water. Fry in oil with crushed garlic and ginger, then add a little sesame oil and soy sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.